(Senate - March 11, 2008)

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[Pages S1832-S1839]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []


  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. Under the previous order, the 
Senate will resume consideration of S. Con. Res. 70, which the clerk 
will report.
  The bill clerk read as follows:

       A concurrent resolution (S. Con. Res. 70) setting forth the 
     congressional budget for the United States Government for 
     fiscal year 2009 and including the appropriate budgetary 
     levels for fiscal years 2008 and 2010 through 2013.

  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator from Michigan.
  The Senator from Montana.
  Mr. BAUCUS. Mr. President, I wish to speak on the budget resolution 
and about an amendment I will offer when that amendment is in order. As 
I understand, that will be after the luncheon hour.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator is correct.
  Mr. BAUCUS. Mr. President, the author and poet, Cervantes, had a 
character say:

       My wages . . . I have earned with the sweat of my brows.

  And so it is with America's hard-working families. They have earned 
their wages with the sweat of their brows. This afternoon, along with a 
number of other Senators, I intend to offer an amendment that would 
take the surplus in the budget resolution and give it back to hard-
working American families who earned it.
  First, our amendment makes the 10-percent tax bracket permanent. That 
is a tax cut for all taxpayers.
  Second, we are making permanent changes to the child tax credit. That 
is a $1,000 tax credit per child. This tax credit recognizes that a 
family's ability to pay taxes decreases as their family size increases. 
Unless we act, the child tax credit will fall to $500 per child in 
  We are making permanent the marriage penalty relief. Couples should 
not pay more taxes because they are married. This relief makes sure a 
married couple filing a joint return has the same deductions and tax 
brackets as they would if they filed as individuals.
  We are making permanent the changes to the dependent care credit. 
This credit is important to working families. It recognizes the 
increased cost of child care for thousands of Americans, especially 
child care for households where both parents work outside the home.
  We are making permanent the changes to the adoption credit. Most 
adoptions cost more than $20,000. This provision offers a credit of 
$10,000 for those willing to give a child a home.
  This amendment is also important because in it we believe it is 
important to pause and reflect on the sacrifices our men and women in 
uniform make for us every day.
  Nearly 1.5 million U.S. service men and women have served in Iraq, 
Afghanistan or both. Nearly 30,000 troops have been wounded in action.
  In September, I went to Iraq. I was impressed by what an amazing job 
our troops are doing. It is astounding. I met many Montanans from small 
towns such as Roundup and Townsend. I saw firsthand what a heavy burden 
our troops bear for all of us. They face hardships, they face danger, 
but they keep at it every day. Today, one small way to support them is 
to make the Tax Code a little more troop friendly. We can extend the 
special tax rules that make sense for our military that expire in 2007 
and 2008. We can also eliminate roadblocks in the current tax laws that 
present difficulties to veterans and servicemembers.
  One problem this amendment would address is how the Tax Code treats 
survivors of our fallen heroes. The families of soldiers killed in the 
line of duty receive a death gratuity benefit of $100,000. But the Tax 
Code restricts survivors from putting this benefit in a Roth IRA. 
Today, we can make sure family members of fallen soldiers can take 
advantage of these tax-favored accounts. Another hazard in the tax laws 
impedes our disabled veterans. I am thinking of the time limit for 
filing for a tax refund. Most VA disability claims filed by veterans 
are quickly resolved, but many disability awards are delayed due to 
lost paperwork or the appeals of rejected claims.
  Once a disabled vet finally gets a favorable award, the good news is 
the disability award is tax free, but the bad news is many of these 
disabled veterans get ambushed by a statute that bars them from filing 
a tax refund claim. Today we can give disabled veterans an extra year 
to claim their tax refunds.
  Most troops doing the heavy lifting in combat situations are the 
lower ranking, lower income soldiers. Their income needs to count 
toward computing the earned-income tax credit, or EITC. Under current 
law, however, income earned by a soldier in a combat zone is exempt 
from income tax. This actually hurts low-income military personnel 
under the EITC.
  The EITC combat pay exception allows combat zone pay to count as 
earned income for purposes of determining the credit. That way, more 
soldiers qualify for EITC. But this EITC combat pay exception expired 
at the end of 2007.
  The EITC is a beneficial tax provision for working parents. It makes 
no sense to deny it to our troops. Today we can help to make combat 
duty income count for EITC purposes.
  In this amendment, we are making permanent provisions to allow combat 
pay as earned income for purposes of the EITC. This amendment allows 
hard-working, low-income military personnel to get the full benefit of 
the EITC.
  A soldier's rucksack is heavy enough as it is without loading it down 
with tax burdens. We owe the soldiers fighting in our Armed Forces an 
enormous debt of gratitude. This amendment is one small way we can 
salute our men and women in uniform for all they do.
  Also in this amendment, we are giving some certainty to American 
families on the estate tax. Lowering the estate tax to 2009 levels is 
the least we can do as we move toward estate tax reform. This is the 
minimum that we can and will achieve.
  And we are committed to exploring what more we can do. We are 
conducting thorough studies of the issue in hearings on that subject 
this week.
  I plan to offer a second amendment that would dedicate enough 
additional funds to estate tax reform that we can achieve a $5 million 
exemption and a 35-percent rate.
  Through these efforts, Congress will show that we support America's 
small businesses, ranchers, and farmers. Today's amendment also helps 
to address the housing crisis. Our amendment would allow middle-income 
taxpayers who do not itemize their deductions to nonetheless get a tax 
deduction for property taxes. That would give some relief to hard-
strapped homeowners.
  Now, this amendment will not do everything. But we will do more. As

[[Page S1833]]

chairman of the Finance Committee, I am fully committed to tax reform. 
Tax reform can mean giving tax relief to American families and 
businesses through simplification and sound tax policy.
  This year, the Finance Committee will do the spade work. We will hold 
hearings and prepare for the fundamental tax reform that we all want 
and expect next year, so when the next President takes office, he or 
she will make a major recommendation to the Congress on tax reform. We 
are holding hearings on that so we are ready.
  But today the amendment we will offer shows our commitment to 
American families. American families earned their wages with the sweat 
of their brows. This amendment takes the surplus and gives tax relief 
to those hard-working families. It is no less than what they have 
  Mr. President, I yield the floor.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator from Texas is 
  Mrs. HUTCHISON. Mr. President, I rise to talk about the Senate budget 
resolution. This is going to be considered for an entire week. It does 
provide the American people with Congress's blueprint for spending and 
fiscal policies and priorities. And while not binding, it does 
establish the direction for later consideration of our appropriations 
  I, like many of my colleagues, have been reviewing the chairman's 
mark that came out of committee and the results from last week's 
markup. I am impressed with parts of this budget. There are some 
priorities in here that I share with the chairman and the committee. It 
fully funds the defense budget. It fully funds NASA, including the 
additional $1 billion that Senator Mikulski and I sought last year to 
reimburse the agency for the Columbia disaster, because we know NASA 
has been pulling from operating funds to repair the damage done from 
the Columbia disaster, and this has kept it from keeping up its 
research commitment.
  We cannot have an agency that is supposed to be doing the state-of-
the-art research and pushing the envelope not only in aeronautics but 
in science and medicine. Yet we have a billion-dollar shortfall taken 
from the research that could fuel scientists for years to come.
  It funds the America COMPETES Act, which improves education, and that 
is such an important priority for us to remain competitive. We need 
more of our young people to go into science and engineering, the 
physical sciences, the hard sciences.
  We are losing our edge in this global marketplace. Congress, in a 
bipartisan way, did pass the America COMPETES Act, and there is funding 
for much of that in this bill.
  We must extend the sales tax deduction, which is a provision that is 
close to my heart because my State and seven others have a sales tax 
but no State income tax. So we believe it is a matter of equity that 
sales taxes be deductible, rather than just the State income taxes 
which is available to all of the other States but not available to the 
seven States that do not choose to fund their Government with an income 
  These parts of the budget deserve our attention and support. However, 
this budget has a major flaw. Before long the budget had increased $22 
billion above the President's request. We have now found that over the 
period of time that it has languished in the Senate committee, we are 
now looking at what appears to be a ballooning of that increase in 
spending. Yet the budget projects a surplus of $177 billion in 2012, 
$160 billion in 2013, and yet the budget has increased by $210 billion 
over 5 years.
  Now, how can we have this increase in spending and yet still have 
surpluses? My economics 101 tells me there has to be a catch because we 
know there is no free lunch. So in addition to the large spending 
increases, the budget includes the largest tax increase in the history 
of America, $1.2 trillion. The budget allows the incredibly beneficial 
tax cuts from 2001 and 2003 to expire.
  Now, these are the tax cuts that spurred our economy and created 
millions of new jobs in our country. It spurred the growth in our 
economy. When these tax provisions expire, 43 million families with 
children will have to pay an average of $2,300 more each year, and 18 
million senior citizens will owe $2,200 more on average. Twenty-seven 
million small businesses, the engine of economic growth in America, 
will owe $4,100 more in taxes on average. Almost 8 million low-income 
workers will be added back to the tax rolls.
  Especially during this time of economic uncertainty, why would we ask 
our fellow citizens to pay more and rob the jobs that have been created 
with the tax cuts of 2001 and 2003?
  The first thing we did when we saw the slowing economy was, on a 
bipartisan basis, have an economic stimulus package. And what was the 
crux of the stimulus package? It was to give money back to the people 
who have paid taxes in rebates to help spur the economy. So why would 
we turn around in this budget and increase taxes and ask the people to 
whom we just gave rebates, that will be in the mail in the next 6 
weeks, to pay more?

  Consider what a $2,300 tax burden would pay if the average American 
family could keep the money they earned in that amount: groceries for 
about 8 months, health care expenses for about a year, electricity and 
home heating oil for about a year, and gasoline for the car that we 
know is now rising as we speak.
  How can we consider taking money away from families when we are 
seeing the strain of this economy be a burden on those same families? 
This budget makes great promises for American families, but it also 
pulls the rug out from under them by saying: Here is the burden we are 
going to give to you to pay for this big Government spending budget.
  So I hope as we consider the budget this week that we will take a 
serious look at keeping some of the major priorities, but having the 
good sense to cut in other places or to remain steady in other places 
where there is not the essential need right now. We do need a budget 
that looks out and says for the long-term competitiveness and vitality 
of our country and our society and our work concerns and our work 
force: We do need to spur investment. We need to spur research. We need 
to have more engineers and scientists graduating from our universities, 
and we can do that by funding NASA fully, by funding the American 
COMPETES Act. We must do that for the long term. But why not do what 
every family in America does when we have essential needs for long-term 
planning, but we are on a limited budget and we want to bring down that 
deficit? And that is, make choices.
  Can we not come together and make choices just as we came together 
for the stimulus package? The last thing we want to do, since we did 
pass a bipartisan stimulus package which the President's supported, is 
to wipe it all out and say: Well, we are going to give you back a 
little bit but we are going to take more. We are going to take more at 
a time when we know America is a little jittery about the economic 
condition and looking to the future of the economy and our country.
  I hope we will do what we can on a bipartisan basis and hash out what 
the priorities are and that we can have the priorities in spending 
without the ballooning budget and the tax increases they propose to pay 
for this ballooning budget.
  We do not need tax increases. We need to make the tax cuts permanent 
that have helped so many people get back to work, get on their feet, 
small businesses make investments, and keep our economy going when this 
home mortgage crisis is trying to sort itself out.
  Unless we can make some major changes in this budget, I cannot 
imagine supporting it. But we do have time. We do have time to do the 
right thing. I am hoping we go through the amendment process, that we 
make the choices that will take the taxes out, will put the priorities 
in, and will get our 10-year plan started that will create jobs, that 
will create more opportunities for scientists and engineers to graduate 
from our colleges and universities and have good careers, solid 
careers, because we have made the right investments in 2008.
  I yield the floor.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator from Michigan is 
  Ms. STABENOW. Mr. President, in a moment I am going to yield to 

[[Page S1834]]

Whitehouse, but I do want to respond for a moment because what my 
friend from Texas is talking about, frankly, in terms of focusing on 
middle-class families, is exactly what this budget does. It will be 
enhanced by the Baucus amendment, that takes surplus dollars that are 
in the budget and targets them right back to middle-class families, 
putting dollars into their pockets in terms of extending the middle-
class tax cuts that we all support.
  But we also do more than that. We focus on jobs. We focus on health 
care, investing in education and opportunity for the future. We are not 
more of the same. This budget resolution is not more of the same of 
what has been occurring since 2001, in the last 8 years, particularly 6 
years of that when we have seen our colleagues on the other side of the 
aisle and the White House basically controlling all of the agenda in 
terms of the priorities in the budget and spending and so on.
  We create a budget that offers a change, a set of priorities based on 
the values that are important to the American people, American 
families, American jobs here, investing here. Let me first say, 
overall, we have a situation where basically we have seen, under this 
President, more debt, more tax cuts for the wealthy, more spending in 
Iraq, less investment in America. That is what we have seen.
  In listening to the outline of what I understand will be a Republican 
budget alternative that will be presented this week, it is more of the 
same. It is more of the same. We want to reduce that and balance the 
budget by 2012, focus tax cuts on middle-income workers, hard-working 
Americans who have not seen tax relief or investments in their future 
and in their children's future.
  We want to refocus. Instead of talking about the spending in Iraq, we 
want to be focused on spending at home. We have somewhere near $12 
billion to $15 billion a month being spent right now in Iraq. Even 
though we know the Iraqi Government is receiving dollars in oil 
revenues, we continue to be the ones investing in rebuilding their 
communities and their jobs, their infrastructure.
  Our budget invests in America--American jobs, American families, 
American communities. I am hopeful we will see a strong vote for the 
budget resolution we are presenting.
  I now yield up to 30 minutes to my friend and colleague from Rhode 
Island, Senator Whitehouse.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator from Rhode Island.
  Mr. WHITEHOUSE. Mr. President, I salute the leadership and the energy 
of the Senator from Michigan in this area. The Senator is clearly 
passionate about the economic issues we see across the country but 
those that particularly affect her State. There is not a person in this 
body who is not aware of how deeply she cares and how hard she fights 
for the people of Michigan. I am pleased to join her on the floor.
  Last month we received the President's budget request for fiscal year 
2009. I am a member, like Senator Stabenow, of the Budget Committee. 
This is the last budget we will receive from President Bush, and I 
think it is an opportune time to look at how this administration's 
policies have affected our economic circumstances and how average 
Americans will suffer as a result.
  The Bush policies have generated what deserves to be known as and 
what I will call today, ``the Bush Debt,'' a legacy of indebtedness 
that will burden our children and grandchildren for generations to come 
and cost us the opportunity to help millions of Americans all over this 
country lead lives of promise, prosperity, and happiness. As I have 
traveled across my State, Rhode Islanders have told me over and over 
their stories about struggling to make ends meet--from seniors 
stretching fixed incomes to pay for prescription drugs and housing to 
working families trying to heat their homes and send their children to 
college. Yet President Bush in his budget for fiscal year 2009 has 
proposed deep cuts to Medicare, deep cuts to home heating assistance 
for low-income families, and deep cuts to Federal student aid, 
weakening access to citizens' basic needs.
  The administration cites the need for fiscal discipline. The 
President says discipline is necessary to address our Nation's growing 
budget deficits. What the President does not say--and probably never 
will say--is that his own ill- advised, misguided policies created 
those record deficits. It did not have to end this way. But it did, and 
the President must bear the responsibility.
  Seven years ago this January, George Bush stood on the western steps 
of this hallowed building and took his oath of office as President of 
the United States. In his first address to the Nation, George Bush 
pledged to call for responsibility and try to live it as well. After a 
divisive election, many Americans found comfort and hope in those 
words. On the budgetary front there was good reason for optimism on 
that cold January morning. After decades of deficit spending, 
bipartisan cooperation between President Clinton and a Republican 
Congress had set the Nation on its healthiest fiscal path in 
generations. After 28 straight years of multibillion dollar budget 
deficits, our Nation saw surpluses beginning in 1998. In President 
Clinton's last full year in office, we saw the largest budget surplus 
in our Nation's history--$236 billion.
  The good budgetary news wasn't behind us. The month George Bush moved 
into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, the Congressional Budget Office, the 
nonpartisan accounting arm of Congress, projected we would see 
surpluses straight through the decade. These budget surpluses, the 
product of responsible governing--some might even say fiscally 
conservative governing--were projected to be enough to completely wipe 
out our national debt by 2009. Let me say that again: to completely 
wipe out our national debt by 2009. In other words, the hard work had 
been done. If President Bush had stayed the course of fiscal 
responsibility, he could have been the first President of the United 
States since Andrew Jackson in 1836 to govern a debt-free United 
States, an America with the power and the freedom to support its people 
as they sought new opportunities and new frontiers. Imagine that.
  This President's fiscal year 2009 budget, instead of including debt 
service payments, could have requested significant funds for Pell 
grants, for LIHEAP, the badly needed overhaul of our health care 
system, bridge construction, investment in small and environmentally 
friendly business, and countless other valuable programs for ordinary 
  When President Bush took office, leading economists were debating the 
consequences of this great Nation debt free, standing tall in the world 
with no claim on it by foreign powers. But this President made a 
different choice. Instead of keeping our Nation on the path to economic 
security and prosperity, to new investments in our health care system, 
students, seniors, and veterans, the President who called for 
responsibility squandered away the surpluses he inherited, mortgaged 
our children and grandchildren's futures, and compromised the quality 
of working Americans' lives.
  How can we measure the magnitude of the harm done to our economy and 
our people by this administration's decision to deviate from the 
responsible policies of President Clinton?
  The first chart shows the budget plans of President Clinton as he 
left office and the budget formulated by President Bush. As you can 
see, the Clinton line, represented in blue, based on his levels of 
taxation and spending, has budget surpluses for every single year of 
this decade. In contrast, the Bush budget line, represented in red, has 
deep record-setting deficits in every year after 2001.
  This next chart illustrates the value of the differences between the 
budget landscape planned by President Clinton and the one created by 
President Bush. As we can see, the difference between the two is a 
staggering $7.7 trillion. This number represents the fiscal harm 
President Bush has inflicted on our Nation. This number is ``the Bush 
Debt.'' It consists of a decade of foregone surpluses and new 
borrowing, much of it from foreign nations such as China, Japan, and 
Saudi Arabia. We have even become a debtor nation to Mexico.
  Mr. President, $7.7 trillion is more than double the amount of public 
debt when President Bush took office. Like most concepts of enormous 
size, this amount takes some thought to comprehend: $7.7 trillion is 
$25,000 owed by every adult or child in the United States, squandered 
surpluses and new debt created by this President.

[[Page S1835]]

  How did we move from the path of surpluses away from the promise of 
wiping out our national debt to trillions of dollars in new national 
liabilities? One would hope this administration could at least justify 
the Bush Debt by pointing to borrowing policies that improved average 
Americans' lives. Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the 
truth. Rather, this dramatic change of course stems largely from two of 
this President's many poor decisions over the past 7 years: first, tax 
cuts that overwhelmingly benefited the wealthy at the expense of the 
less fortunate and, second, the President's endless, misguided, unpaid 
war in Iraq. In the same inaugural address in which he called for 
responsibility, President Bush vowed to reduce taxes, even though the 
American economy was booming in the 1990s, under tax levels set by 
President Clinton which were low by both historical and international 
  The irony, of course, is that President Bush's tax cuts of 2001 and 
2003 were the height of irresponsibility. Because these massive tax 
cuts were predominantly directed at high-income families rather than 
low-income families, many Americans most in need of assistance were 
shortchanged. These extravagant tax cuts are weighted heavily toward 
the wealthiest Americans. In fact, 71 percent of the value of the tax 
cuts in 2009 will go to the wealthiest fifth of Americans, with a 
staggering 28 percent of the value of the tax cuts going to the top 1 
percent and almost nothing at all going to the lowest earning fifth, 
families who earn $15,000 a year or less. This is George Bush's idea of 
fair tax cuts. And President Bush's insistence on forcing through these 
cuts without making up for the lost revenue, to defer that pain to 
later administrations and later years, was not only cowardly 
leadership, but it left our budget in precarious straits. The Bush tax 
cuts cost a staggering $1.9 trillion and account for 25 percent of the 
$7.7 trillion Bush Debt measured from the start of the Bush presidency 
through 2010, when the tax cuts are set to expire.
  Every American knows the importance of balancing his or her own 
household budget. Every American knows the struggle of keeping spending 
in line with income, making sure there is enough money to pay for 
clothing, food, home heating, college tuition, and maybe a little for 
vacation or going out to the movies. Most Americans do a good job of 
balancing budgets but not President Bush. Rather than living by his 
inaugural pledge of responsibility, President Bush preferred to score 
political points by delivering massive tax cuts to his wealthiest 
supporters. He chose not to remain on a responsible fiscal path and 
instead put this country under the crushing burden of a multitrillion-
dollar debt, the Bush Debt.
  These tax cuts, while a large slice of the Bush Debt pie, are 
unfortunately not the whole story. There is also a large spending 
component to the Bush Debt, driven principally by the war in Iraq. By 
the end of this year, the price tag for the war in Iraq will have 
exceeded $600 billion. Even if we are successful in pressuring this 
President or the next President to begin redeploying our troops, 
American taxpayers will still have spent at least $740 billion on this 
misguided war by 2010.
  Even if the next President gets us quickly out of Iraq, as I hope she 
or he will, we will be paying costs related to this war for years to 
come. We must care for our veterans and for the families of fallen 
soldiers. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the cost of 
medical care, disability payments, and compensation for the families of 
fallen soldiers will cost between $10 billion and $13 billion in the 
next 10 years alone. We have a moral obligation to take care of the 
brave men and women who sacrificed their youth, health, limbs, and 
sometimes their lives to serve their Nation. These are costs, however, 
that we need never have had to bear. While they pale in comparison to 
the personal cost incurred by service members and their families, these 
monetary costs are nonetheless significant, and they will affect 
America's security for decades to come.
  Like all debt, the Bush Debt requires interest payments. Every day 
Americans make interest payments on mortgages, car loans, student 
loans, or credit cards. According to President Bush's proposed budget 
for fiscal year 2009, next year alone, America will owe $260 billion in 
interest on the Bush Debt. Two hundred sixty billion in interest 
payments equates to $857 to our creditors in Japan, China, and Saudi 
Arabia for every man, woman, and child in the United States, next year 
and the year after that and long into the future.
  To make matters worse, if you can believe this--hold on to your hat--
the Bush administration is borrowing the money to make the interest 
payments, further adding to the debt. Imagine if we could take the $7.7 
trillion Bush Debt off budget and set up a separate revenue system to 
make the interest payments--to feed the beast. Then every taxpayer 
would see we are doing something about this unprecedented debt. We 
should consider forming a commission, a Bush Debt repayment authority, 
to study the possibility of bringing the Bush Debt off the budget to 
show the American people how much this President has cost them, to pay 
the Bush Debt down responsibly over time, the way Government often 
steps in to pay down a disaster debt responsibly over time, and to show 
our children and grandchildren that we were not all cowards pushing our 
costs onto them.
  This enormous interest payment isn't an abstract idea dreamed up by 
economists. This $260 billion is precious cash flow that could 
otherwise be spent improving our health care system, building new 
schools, repairing our roads and bridges, or helping our businesses 
compete against foreign competition.
  Individual Americans may not be writing $857 checks to Japan or China 
or Saudi Arabia, but each one of us pays a steep price for the Bush 
debt--a price that is already evident in the President's budget for 
this year.
  The budget request that included $260 billion for interest payments 
also included tough talk about belt tightening. The President proposes 
to hold discretionary spending growth to 1 percent--effectively a cut 
since the consumer price index grew 4.1 percent last year.
  His budget plan slashed funds for low-income heating assistance; the 
COPS Program, which keeps police officers on the beat to protect local 
communities; Federal student aid programs, which help young people 
afford a college education; and community development grants, which 
provide badly needed assistance for low-income families and small 
businesses. The President's budget also calls for tremendous cuts in 
Medicare and Medicaid over the next 5 years--cuts that would surely 
affect medical care for American families.
  President Bush is asking for more money to continue his misguided war 
in Iraq, more money to service the debt he created, and more money to 
pay for tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, but less money to help 
the millions of people all across this country who need health 
insurance or food for their families or better schools for their 
children or a home they can afford. Those are not the correct 
priorities for America, President Bush.
  What if President Bush had never cut rich Americans' taxes or taken 
us to war in Iraq? What if the fiscally responsible policies of the 
Clinton administration had continued to the present day? What if our 
public debt had been paid entirely by the end of next year, leaving us 
free to invest in our people and our future? What if there were no $7.7 
trillion Bush debt and no $260 billion in interest payments next year? 
What could this country--the land of opportunity and possibility--be 
doing with an extra $260 billion a year?
  Well, for just $5 billion--or 2 percent of the interest cost of the 
Bush debt in 2009--we could provide health insurance to 3.8 million 
more children through the Children's Health Insurance Program--the very 
initiative President Bush vetoed last year. Actually, according to the 
Kaiser Family Foundation, we could provide health insurance to every 
uninsured American--adults and children--for $173 billion. So well 
within the amount of money we will need to spend next year to service 
the Bush debt, we could completely cover every American with quality 
health care.
  There are many other worthy programs we could fund with the remainder 
of the $260 billion interest payment. Our Head Start Program, which

[[Page S1836]]

helps prepare preschool-age children from low-income families to 
succeed in kindergarten and beyond, currently has barely enough 
resources to cover half of the 2 million children who are eligible. The 
remaining 1 million children could be covered for an additional $7 
  Pell grants, named after my distinguished Senator from Rhode Island, 
Claiborne Pell, help college students afford the steep costs of their 
education. We made progress last year in increasing funding for the 
Pell Grant Program, but Pell grants only fund a small fraction of 
tuition for many students. It used to fund about half of the tuition. 
It has slipped to less than a third today. We could double every single 
Pell grant next year, raising the maximum grant to over $8,400, for $18 
  With the remaining $62 billion in our ``world without Bush,'' we 
could bring up to code 95 percent of the structurally deficient and 
functionally obsolete bridges in the country, with all the work and 
jobs that would entail. My home State of Rhode Island has the unhappy 
distinction of having the highest percentage of structurally deficient 
bridges in the country. But following the tragic bridge collapse in 
Minneapolis last year, there is a renewed awareness of the urgency of 
updating our national transportation infrastructure. That $62 billion 
covers 95 percent of our Nation's deficient bridges and funds those 
repairs in fiscal year 2009. What about the other 5 percent? Well, we 
will have another $280 billion in Bush debt interest payments coming up 
in 2010. We could spend it--if we could--to fix those bridges.
  Another year of tragic lost opportunities. We will make annual 
interest payments of this magnitude until a future President takes on 
the daunting challenge of paying down the principle of the national 
debt left for us by President Bush.
  Well, that is quite a list: cover every uninsured American with 
health insurance, fully fund the Head Start Program, double each and 
every Pell grant, and repair our deficient bridges. Sadly, we do none 
of that. We use that money to pay the interest on the Bush debt. We 
will be making payments for the Bush debt for decades into the future.
  An often ignored yet critical aspect of the Bush debt is the effect 
interest payments have on our national security--the very interest the 
administration purports to be advancing through its misguided war in 
Iraq. This chart illustrates the point.
  To service the Bush debt, we have borrowed more money from 
foreigners, more money from other nations, such as China, Japan, and 
Saudi Arabia, under George Bush than under all 42 of his predecessors 
combined. The result of this foreign borrowing is that a large portion 
of the interest payments we make gets sent overseas, supplementing the 
income of foreigners and allowing foreign nations to invest in their 
economies and infrastructures. If not for the Bush debt, that money 
could be invested here at home, helping to grow American businesses and 
generate income and strength for our own future generations. Instead, 
the Bush debt has helped, and will continue to help, boost the Chinese 
economy at the cost of our own. The Bush debt will send trillions of 
dollars to foreign nations over the coming years, giving them even more 
dollars to buy up our American businesses.

  When the Presidency of George W. Bush comes to its long-anticipated 
end on January 20, 2009, it will leave in its destructive wake 
trillions of dollars in debt owed to other nations, many of which do 
not have America's best interests at heart. This administration will 
leave behind an America whose standing in the world and whose regard 
among its fellow nations has been weakened and degraded by a war that 
seems to have no end--a fiscally weakened nation, a borrower, with a 
falling economy, struggling under the Bush debt.
  Worst of all, this President will leave behind millions of Americans 
who, had this administration merely stayed the course of fiscal 
responsibility chartered by President Clinton, would be far better off 
than they are today. They would be, starting in 2009, in a debt-free 
United States that could afford to assist working families with the 
costs of a college education, to overhaul our health care system, to 
repair our crumbling infrastructure, to invest in small and green 
businesses, and to improve the lives of average Americans in countless 
other ways.
  We cannot ignore the Bush debt. While George Bush starts packing for 
his retirement on his Texas ranch, those of us who care about the 
future of our Nation--the future of our children--must work toward 
undoing the damage this President has done.
  Mr. President, I submit that we need to see the Bush debt as a 
serious national problem, a fiscal, economic, and national security 
threat, and engage in a solemn and serious way, as the trustees of our 
national welfare, to confront the Bush debt.
  Mr. President, I yield the floor.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. Who yields time?
  The Senator from Colorado.
  Mr. ALLARD. Mr. President, I believe I am scheduled to give a speech 
for about 10 minutes or so.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. Without objection, it is so 
  Mr. ALLARD. Mr. President, I spoke last week in the Budget Committee, 
of which I am a member, about the differences between this year's 
consideration of the budget resolution and last year's.
  Last year, we were obligated to accept the assurances from the 
majority that under their new regime pay-go would be respected, 
spending would be curbed, the entitlement crises would be addressed, 
and the debt would be attacked.
  I do want to take a moment to respond to the attempt of my colleague 
from Rhode Island--who just left the floor--about trying to say this is 
all President Bush's problem. It is not. It is all of our problem. For 
example, the budget we have before us has over $2 trillion that it adds 
to the national debt. There are some basic reforms we have to do if we 
are going to correct the debt problem that has been accruing over the 
years. We have to reform entitlements especially.
  We now, however, have results in this budget, not predictions. When 
all was said and done last year, there was an $83 billion increase in 
discretionary spending. There was $143 billion in pay-go violations. We 
did not close the tax gap. We added to the debt. We did nothing for 
entitlement reform. Reconciliation was used to add spending, not reduce 
it. Reconciliation was originally put in for that sole purpose: to 
reduce spending. We assumed tax increases.
  So as we begin consideration of the fiscal year 2009 budget 
resolution, I hope everyone is aware of what was promised last year and 
what transpired. I hope they will use that knowledge when considering 
this budget document.
  I would like to talk about the items that concern me in this budget. 
Now that our economy is trending in the wrong direction, and when we 
really need the benefits of a reasonable and progrowth tax policy, we 
are going to depress our economic growth by adding to the debt and 
increasing taxes in this budget.
  We are not addressing the entitlement crises in this budget. Everyone 
knows it is there. It is a huge avalanche of debt waiting to bury our 
future. The sooner we act, obviously, the better. The longer we wait, 
the more drastic it will be, and more expensive. But we do nothing. We 
are not even doing something as productive as fiddling. We are just 
talking, year after year, and perhaps wishing our national debt will go 
  In this budget, we are raising taxes on the middle class. This budget 
cannot be paid for by closing the tax gap. It cannot be paid for by 
closing loopholes. It cannot be paid for by shifting dates around on 
revenues or outlays. And it surely cannot be paid for by increasing the 
taxes paid by the super-rich, the rich, or just the very-well-to-do. It 
will only be paid for by reaching down into the average earners and 
raising their taxes as well. Under this budget, the average family with 
children will pay $2,300 more each year. Seniors will pay $2,200 more 
each year. Small businesses will pay $4,100 more each year.
  When we consider these tax increases, let's remember, last year we 
were assured we would see tax relief. The first vote we were presented 
on the budget last year was to budget for an

[[Page S1837]]

alleged middle-class tax cut. But this never materialized.
  What has materialized is spending increases. This budget adds $210 
billion over 5 years. The gross debt will expand by $2 trillion by 
2013. This year, we are spending three-quarters of a billion dollars of 
the Social Security surplus. This year, we are increasing spending by 
$22 billion, without fully funding the war.
  Now, about that. I know there will be those who say they are just 
following the President. But the budget is a congressional document. 
Say what you want about the ideas in this document, but it was written 
and prepared on the sixth floor of Dirksen, not in the White House. The 
``they did it first'' argument is not one I accepted from my children, 
and I am not going to accept it here.
  We know the war is expected to cost $170 billion this year. We have 
an obligation to budget for that amount. It is honest budgeting. I will 
be offering an amendment to do just that. If we are going to pay for 
this war, fiscal discipline and legitimate budgeting requirements 
demand that we include those costs.
  There are those who do not want to fund our campaign in Iraq. There 
are those who want to end the war as soon as possible, regardless of 
the damage that might do. They are entitled to those views. But there 
is no legitimate reason to fail to include the known estimates of the 
war into our budget. Failure to do so is pure gimmickry and devalues 
the budget exercise in which we are engaged. Hiding the war costs from 
view, when every Member knows we will be spending more, is ridiculous.

  On that topic, my second great concern with this budget is the budget 
continues the erosion of fiscally responsible processes. We are seeing 
increases in reserve funds. There are 37 this year, up from 24 last 
year. They contain up to $300 billion in spending that hangs over our 
Treasury and taxpayers as a threat. I have heard them referred to as 
harmless, but any device that serves to weaken the authority and 
legitimateness of our budget is simply not harmless.
  Many feel these reserve funds have become an overcomplicated type of 
sense of the Senate, but they weave weakness into what should be a 
rigid and honest budget document.
  Another erosion of fiscal discipline is the use of reconciliation--a 
process originated to cut Government spending--for spending increases. 
We saw that last year. We have heard rumors and intentions of it being 
done again this year. Unfortunately, this will be something we are not 
sure of until it is too late, and that is when the conference report is 
before us.
  We also see pay-go rules being verbally respected but ultimately 
dodged through various ploys. The first year test of deficit neutrality 
was dropped. We have shifted the timeliness of tax payments and 
spending costs to meet technical definitions that have no basis in 
reality. We have enacted wildly unrealistic program cuts and sunsets to 
hide true costs. Pay-go has been promised and praised, but it allowed 
$143 billion in deficit spending to occur.
  I noticed when we started the session this year, Senator Gregg, our 
ranking top Republican on the Budget Committee, was pointing to his 
Swiss cheese example of how they have been able to get around the pay-
go rules.
  I believe Congress, and especially the Budget Committee, should be 
committed to rigid budget discipline, not politically expedient 
gamesmanship. I would urge a return to a tighter and more credible 
budget document. I plan to offer several amendments to shore up the 
fiscal discipline we are seeing erode in this budget.
  I yield the floor, and I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  Ms. STABENOW. Mr. President, rather than do that----
  Mr. ALLARD. Mr. President, I withdraw that request.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator from Michigan is 
  Ms. STABENOW. Mr. President, I know we are waiting for other 
colleagues to come to the floor, but let me summarize our priorities 
for a moment in terms of this budget resolution.
  There are a number of things we are doing that are very important, 
such as restoring the cuts the President made overall in health care 
and the fact he wanted to eliminate the COPS Program that puts 
thousands of police officers on the streets in our communities. We have 
restored those and other essential dollars for homeland security, 
firefighters, and so on.
  We have also picked three priorities, as we did last year, to focus 
on in terms of new investments, given what is happening to middle-class 
families across the country and given the fact that middle-class 
families feel squeezed on all sides. Gas prices are up. In fact, I saw 
today they are inching toward $4 a gallon. According to the Detroit 
News, a paper in Michigan, the chances that gas prices will hit $4 a 
gallon in the summer are growing with every uptick in the price of oil. 
We are hearing all about what is happening to families in terms of the 
price of gas, the price of health care, the price of college and on and 
on and on. People are being squeezed on all sides.
  We also know the best economic stimulus is a good-paying American 
job. So to address that, we have focused on three priorities in this 
budget. It is very simple: jobs, jobs, jobs. What do I mean by that? We 
are focusing on three areas, one that also addresses our dependence on 
foreign oil. It addresses the critical issue of global warming and 
where we need to go as we look to the future for our families. But it 
also creates jobs. There is a green-collar jobs initiative to invest in 
those new technologies, the new energy efficiency jobs, weatherization 
jobs, innovation for the future, green-collar jobs. We know we can 
create thousands and thousands of jobs by focusing in this area, and we 
do that.
  The second area is jobs for rebuilding America. We know for every $1 
billion we put into rebuilding our roads and bridges and schools and 
water and sewer, we create 47,500 new good-paying American jobs. You 
can't outsource those jobs. Those are jobs here in America, and that is 
what we need to do.
  Then, finally, there is a focus on education and job training. We 
know that for the future, for ourselves, and for our children and 
grandchildren, it is opportunity, it is education, it is fully funding 
the law that was passed called Leave No Child Behind and creating job-
training opportunities. People in my State have lost their jobs because 
of trade, so we have something called trade adjustment assistance that 
has been consistently underfunded. Yet we have individuals, through no 
fault of their own, who have seen their jobs go overseas. They are 
middle-class families trying to care for their families, trying to pay 
that mortgage we are all talking about right now with the housing 
crisis and trying to have the American dream for their families. Yet 
TAA, which was set up to help them go back to school, get training, 
help cover their health care costs for 2 years while they are doing the 
training, has been consistently underfunded. We have legislation to 
fully fund and expand the support for families under TAA.

  So we wish to make sure job training and education are also a part of 
this. This is jobs, jobs, jobs.
  I wish to focus for a moment on one of those areas because it 
directly relates to what I said a moment ago as it relates to gas 
prices inching up toward $4 a gallon. We have to change this scenario. 
I know our Presiding Officer understands this and has spoken about 
this. We have to get off foreign oil, invest in the new alternative 
energies that create jobs, that create alternatives in terms of being 
independent of foreign oil, and address gas prices directly, which are 
hitting people right between the eyes right now in terms of what is 
  Our green-collar jobs initiative focuses on energy efficiency and 
conservation, investment in battery technologies, retooling older 
plants so we are keeping our jobs here in America, and biofuels 
production and access. We have to have the pump available. You can grow 
the fuel, you can make the vehicle, but the pumps, if they are not 
available, we are not going to achieve the goal.
  Finally, there is a green-collar job initiative. These are five areas 
we have focused on in terms of investing in the future of our country. 
That is what we are all about. For us, this is all about focusing on 
America, about focusing on folks who every day get up, play by the 
rules, work hard every day, and want to know America is going to work 

[[Page S1838]]

them and that they are going to be able to keep their home and be able 
to send their kids to college and have the health care they need and 
have that job which is going to allow them to be able to keep their 
standard of living and, in fact, live the American dream. That is what 
our budget resolution is all about: jobs, jobs, jobs. I am very pleased 
we have, in fact, put together something that makes sense for American 
  I see my colleague from Maryland is here and who is a distinguished 
member of the Budget Committee. He was a distinguished leader in the 
House of Representatives before coming to us. So I yield now to the 
Senator from Maryland for whatever time he wishes to consume.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator from Maryland is 
  Mr. CARDIN. Mr. President, I thank my friend from Michigan for her 
friendship, but more importantly I thank her for her work on this 
budget resolution we have before us. She has been a very articulate and 
effective leader on the Budget Committee to make sure our budget 
resolution focuses on job growth in America and that invests in the 
people of this country so we can compete internationally and keep jobs 
here in America. I thank her very much for her leadership on the 
committee and for what she has done to help the people of our country.
  This budget resolution, as the Senator from Michigan pointed out, is 
our blueprint. It is what we believe are the priorities of America in 
terms of what we need to do to move this Nation forward. I think we can 
perhaps judge how important this budget resolution is, based on what 
happened last year. I heard a lot of my friends comment about last 
year's budget resolution, whether it would make a difference in the 
lives of people in our country. When we look at the budget resolution 
we enacted last year, based upon the President's submission, I think we 
have a right to be proud of how important this debate is for the 
American people. Let me point out that if we didn't pass that budget 
resolution last year--my colleagues know about the higher education 
bill that passed and was signed into law and supported by almost all my 
colleagues; that is going to make a major difference in the ability of 
families to afford higher education, the largest single increase in 
financial aid since the GI bill after World War II. Well, that bill 
couldn't have happened but for the ability of the budget resolution to 
allow it to be considered. So I think we should be very proud we were 
able to accomplish that. My colleagues seemed to support that, although 
some seem to have questions about this budget resolution. The 
President's budget would not allow us to have had that.
  I have heard most of my colleagues talk in glowing terms about what 
we did last year to help our veterans through veterans health care. Let 
me remind my colleagues it was our budget resolution, not the 
President's, that made that a reality. It is important what we include 
in a budget resolution. It speaks to the priorities of our country.
  We had significant bipartisan support--two-thirds of our Members--who 
supported the Children's Health Insurance Program. We made room for 
that in the budget. I regret that the President vetoed it. The 
President was wrong. We are going to come back to that. But we, as 
Members of the Senate, spoke to the priorities to take care of our 
children's health care needs. That was in last year's budget. What we 
did last year is create a glidepath that is going to bring us to a 
balanced budget faster than the President. So not only are we investing 
in America's future, we are doing it in a more fiscally responsible 
  I also appreciate--and I might speak parochially for one second for 
the people of Maryland--the cuts to the Chesapeake Bay program would 
have been very severe if the President's budget was passed. 
Fortunately, we had our budget resolution that allowed our committees 
to come in with resources so the Federal Government could continue to 
be a partner in the Chesapeake Bay.
  So I think this debate is very important. I think the budget 
resolution that is before us, as my friend from Michigan pointed out, 
speaks to investing in the people of this country and speaks to job 
growth in America. Now, how is that done? Well, this budget resolution, 
compared to the President's, allows us to invest in education. Last 
year, we did it in higher education. This year, we can invest in 
teacher quality and in schools in our communities so every child can 
get a quality education. That should be our goal. Our budget moves us 
toward a Federal partnership to achieve those goals; whereas the 
President's budget would not let us move forward.
  We all talk about how we are going to become energy independent and 
how we are going to become friendlier toward the environment. Our 
budget resolution allows us to move in that direction; once again, 
compared to the President's budget, it wouldn't happen.
  In health care, our budget provides for the expansion of the 
Children's Health Insurance Program. I know we have a difference with 
the President on this. We are going to win this battle. If it is not in 
2008, we will win it in 2009. Over 100,000 children in my State have no 
health insurance. The Children's Health Insurance Program needs to be 
expanded. We need to make sure every child in America--quite frankly, I 
think every family in America--should have access to affordable, 
quality health care.
  For infrastructure needs, meaning investing so we can create jobs, is 
very important. I came from a meeting with biotech leaders in my State 
where we talked about what we need to do as a Federal partner to help 
in the biotech industry and to help with new, creative innovations in 
America. We talked about the NIH budget and how the Bush 
administration's budget would level fund--which is a reduction--the 
number of projects NIH could participate in. The budget resolution we 
have before us today would allow us to invest in research in America to 
help keep jobs here in America, to develop the type of technology that 
we know Americans are capable of doing.
  But the Federal Government should be a partner, and NIH always has 
enjoyed bipartisan support. Our budget allows NIH to expand to cover 
more of the very worthy requests that they receive every year.
  The budget provides for dealing with the housing crisis. We have a 
continuing housing crisis in all parts of our Nation. In my State of 
Maryland, we have record numbers of foreclosures--people who cannot 
afford their mortgages because of the adjustable rates coming in that 
were subprime mortgages. We can do better than that. We have already 
heard bipartisan support for giving the Government more authority to 
deal with refinancing loans, giving better counseling to people who are 
in the market to buy a home and take out a mortgage. I hope to provide 
additional incentives so people can stay in their homes, and so they 
can buy homes, and so homeowners can sell their homes. We need to do 
that for the sake of the individuals involved. We need to do it to 
preserve communities, property tax revenues for local government, and 
we need to help spur economic growth.
  This budget allows for those types of programs to reach the floor of 
this body for consideration. The President's budget would not allow us 
to do that. This budget provides for middle-income tax relief. You have 
heard the chairman talk about it. The AMT is very important. It is 
important that we extend that relief; otherwise, literally hundreds of 
thousands of Marylanders will fall within the AMT, and millions of 
Americans will fall into a tax we never intended for them to have to 
pay. Our budget resolution provides for that type of relief.
  One more thing about this budget resolution. This budget resolution 
actually moves us toward a balanced budget faster than the President's 
budget. I could go back and talk about 7 years ago, and how we had all 
these surpluses, and how the Bush policies have led to these huge 
deficits. I can talk with a lot of credibility on it because I didn't 
support the President's economic plan. I said it was wrong for us to 
spend the surplus before it was fully there, wrong for us to do this 
war funding without paying for it, wrong to give out tax cuts to 
wealthy people when we were in a deficit. I thought we owed it to our 
children and grandchildren to pay for our bills today. But I was 
outvoted and we did it. Now we

[[Page S1839]]

have the Bush deficits that we have to deal with, and we cannot rewrite 
history. It is our responsibility to balance the Federal budget.
  The budget resolution we have before us, offered by the Budget 
Committee, puts us on a glidepath to balancing the budget at a faster 
rate than the President's budget would. So we are acting fiscally 
responsible and investing in America's future, investing in jobs, and 
providing the appropriate tax relief for middle-income families.
  I thank Chairman Conrad for his cooperation and leadership and for 
bringing us all together on the Budget Committee. I particularly thank 
him for the help on an amendment I was able to get into the budget 
resolution, which will help in providing dental care particularly to 
our children.
  I mention that whenever I can because a little over a year ago, a 12-
year-old boy from Maryland, who lived about 6 miles from here, Deamonte 
Driver, had a toothache. His mom tried to get him to a dentist. Social 
workers made numerous phone calls to try to find a dentist to take care 
of his needs. That was in 2007, in the United States of America, in my 
own State of Maryland. They could not find a dentist who would take 
care of him. He only needed an $80 tooth extraction. Instead, he 
suffered from abscessed teeth and he had to go through two brain 
surgeries, costing a quarter of a million dollars, and he lost his life 
because we would not invest in access to affordable dental care for our 
  I thank Chairman Conrad for allowing an amendment to be added to this 
budget bill that will allow the Finance Committee to bring a bill to 
this floor that will make sure we will have no more tragedies like 
Deamonte Driver's in America, and make sure our children have access to 
dental care. It is the No. 1 leading disease affecting children. The 
number of children who have untreated tooth decay is alarming, 
particularly in minority communities and in rural areas. We can do much 
better. This budget resolution will allow us to move in that direction.
  I thank Chairman Conrad for allowing us to move forward with NIH 
research so we can do much better. In the 1990s, we were committed to 
doubling the amount of money in NIH. It was a great day for this 
Nation. But the Bush budgets would have us fall back and lose our 
competitive advantage. The budget before us will allow us to continue 
to make progress in the Federal Government on NIH research.
  On Amtrak funding, I thank the chairman and the committee for 
allowing us to move forward. Senator Lautenberg has been particularly 
effective in bringing this issue to our attention. We need an efficient 
rail system in this country.
  We have read recently about how we have to monitor our water more 
effectively. The budget before us gives us a much better chance of 
achieving those objectives than the President's budget. This budget is 
a good investment for America's future--that is what it is--so we can 
become more competitive and pay down our debt, so we can provide the 
appropriate relief to middle-income families. It is about choices, and 
we made tougher choices. We could not do everything we wanted to do.
  I want to make this point: Considering the legacy of the Bush 
deficits we have to deal with, considering the economic problems this 
Nation is confronting, considering the political realities we have to 
work with, where there are serious differences between the majority in 
Congress and President Bush, considering all those issues, considering 
the Bush budget and how that would lead us into red ink by providing 
tax relief to individuals who I don't believe need it--particularly 
when we are asking our children and grandchildren to pick up those 
costs--considering all that, and considering that this budget puts a 
priority on job growth and the competitiveness of our Nation, I urge my 
colleagues to support this resolution. I think it is worthy of strong 
support in this body. I am certain when we pass this resolution and 
reconcile it with the House, many of the implementing bills are going 
to enjoy large bipartisan support.
  This budget resolution deserves that support. I am proud to endorse 
it, and I urge my colleagues to support it.
  Mr. CARDIN. Mr. President, I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The clerk will call the roll.
  The assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. CARDIN. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. Without objection, it is so