Mr. SCHUMER. Mr. President, on a more bipartisan note than the speech from the minority leader, we are now moving toward some legislation that has two bits of good news for the American people; one, it will help create jobs and employ those who have been out of work for too long a time; second, it is bipartisan. For the first time in a long time, we have a bill that is supported by both Democrats and Republicans. I would like to salute the five Republicans from the other side who joined us in
moving the bill forward. I am very hopeful there will be a large number of those from the other side of the aisle who will join in this bipartisan measure that will show the American people that, at least when it comes to jobs, we can--and must for their good--work together.
First, let me discuss the proposal, the part of the proposal authored by Senator Hatch and myself. It is very simple. It is a holiday from the payroll tax for any employer that hires a worker who has been out of work for 60 days.
Let me discuss why I think it will work. First, it is immediate. Most businesses, particularly small businesses, if you tell them they will get some kind of tax credit if they hire someone, but they will get that credit a year from April, are not very interested. This occurs immediately, the minute the worker is hired.
Second, it is simple. Again, you tell a businessperson, particularly a small businessperson, they have to fill out 30 pages, maybe hire an accountant to get a tax credit for a new worker, that is not life. They are going to tell you to forget it.
But here all the new employee has to show is that he or she was out of work for 60 days. It is very easy to show 60 days of unemployment compensation, and it immediately takes effect.
Third, it goes right to small business. So this is not a large government program. The money goes right to small business and is cost effective, which is the fourth point. If 3 million people are hired by this tax credit, it will cost $15 billion. That is a lot of money. But compared to the stimulus of $880 billion, it is much smaller. The money is cost effective. It goes right to where it should.
Finally, my last point is, it is bipartisan. The country is asking us to come and work together. Obviously, there are diverse views, both within the parties and certainly between the parties. But that does not mean, on areas that are getting close to emergencies, we cannot work together.
This proposal, let it be the start. But let this proposal be the start of a coming together on issues we can agree on. There are some job proposals my colleagues on this side of the aisle would support and my colleagues on the other side would not and vice versa. There are some they would support and we would not.
But there are a large number we can all agree on. We ought to endeavor to do them because what the American people want is not us just talking at one another and accomplishing nothing but us getting something done.
Finally, going back to the merits of this proposal, it should not be sold as a panacea. This is not a magic wand that is going to be waved and all our joblessness will decline.
But what it does do is harness the economic growth we have seen in the last quarter, 5.7 percent, and translates it into the creation of jobs. Let me explain. In the last quarter, there was economic growth, 5.7 percent, but hardly a job was created. You cannot sustain an economy and get an economy moving upward unless jobs are created.
But the growth gives us an opportunity--not every employer but a significant number of employers are getting new orders. They are thinking to themselves: Should I hire that new worker or should I just extend overtime or cut back somewhere else?
This job provision, a payroll tax holiday, says to the employer--to some, not all but to many--I am going to take that gamble and hire that worker and hire them now so it will help jump-start our economy. It will work for businesses, not those that see declining sales or flat sales but those that are beginning to see sales go up and will translate those increased sales into increased jobs, which will then, hopefully, create the virtuous cycle of more jobs, more money in the economy, more jobs
still, more money in the economy still, and we can get out of this awful recession.
In conclusion, I wish to save enough time for my friend from New Hampshire. I traveled around my State this last Presidents week break. In every corner of my State, I sat with the unemployed. It was heartbreaking. Think of those people and those faces, what they had to say late at night.
A woman from Rochester had worked for 20 years for Xerox, lost her position in human services up in Rochester. She has been looking for 2 years, close to 2 years, for a job. She made a very good salary. She did not have a family. Her job was her life. She has turned things inside out to try and find comparable work. She cannot.
I met a man who was a blue-collar worker. He had risen to the top of his craft, tool and die. He thought he had a great life--worked hard, had six children, a good marriage. A year ago he lost his job and is still paying the mortgage. His wife cannot work to support him because of the six kids, one of whom was 2 years old, as I recall.
What is he going to do? You meet people like this again and again. Young college students get out of college, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, and cannot find work. How disillusioning at the beginning of their career.
So we have an imperative to do something. We have an imperative not to say: It has to be my way or no way. We have to put those people back to work.
That is what Senator Hatch and I attempted to do with our proposal. To our leader, I wish to pay him a tremendous tribute. He was focused on getting this done. He took brickbats left and right. But the ultimate wisdom of what he did is now being seen as we move this bill on the floor today.
Hopefully, it will go through the House and be on the President's desk shortly. I thank Senator Hatch and all my colleagues who, hopefully, in a few minutes, will come together in a bipartisan way and tell the workers who are [Page: S719]
unemployed: Yes, there is some hope. Tell the voters from Massachusetts: Yes, we have heard you. We are focusing on jobs.
I yield the floor.
Mr. GREGG. Mr. President, I believe the first obligation of a government--or one of the obligations, especially of Congress--is to live by its own words and live by its own rules. With great fanfare a couple weeks ago, the Democratic leadership and its membership passed a pay-go piece of legislation which says that when you bring spending legislation to the floor, it should be paid for. There was great breast-beating on the other side of the aisle about how this would discipline the government
and make us fiscally responsible.
Now we see, as the first piece of legislation to come forward since the pay-go resolution passed, a bill which violates that pay-go resolution. This bill spends $12 billion that is not paid for under the pay-go rules over the next 5 years. It is in violation of the concepts and the rules which were put forward by the other side as the way we would discipline spending.
I understand--and I think most of us understand--the issue of the economy is critical, getting people back to work is critical, but I don't think we get people back to work by loading more and more debt onto the next generation. Probably we create an atmosphere where folks who are willing to go out and invest and create jobs are a little reticent to do so because they don't know how all that debt the Federal Government is putting on the books will be paid for. I presume that is one of the reasons
the pay-go legislation was brought forward a couple of weeks ago, to try to give some certainty to the markets and to the American people who were upset with all the deficit and debt, that we would discipline ourselves.
Now the first bill that comes forward violates the rules of the Senate by adding $12 billion of spending which is not paid for, which will be deficit spending, and which will be added to the debt. I am not sure how you vote for this bill when it violates that rule which you just voted for 2 weeks ago. It seems a bit of inconsistency that is hard even for a political institution to justify.
On top of that, this bill has massive gamesmanship in the outyears. It is a bill of $15 to $18 billion in spending, but actually, because of the games played in the highway accounts, it adds $140 billion of spending that is not paid for which will be added to the debt if this bill is passed. That is a hard number. That is a big number. That is a real number.
The simple fact is, this bill, in the classic gamesmanship we see from the highway committee, spends money we don't have and then claims we have the money. In the end, all that money has to be borrowed because there are no revenues to cover it.
If this bill is passed, there will be $140 billion in new debt put on our kids' backs as a result of this alleged small number. I forgot what the number is they claim is actually in the bill. How does that happen? This bit of gamesmanship ought to be explained because it keeps being undertaken by the highway committee in the most egregious way relative to proper fiscal management. In fact, if this were done in an accounting cycle that was subject to accounting rules, the people who claim this
sort of sleight of hand would go to jail. It is that simple. They would go to jail because this is such a fraud on the American taxpayer.
What they are claiming is that the highway fund, on which they have committed to spend much more money than is coming in, and they knew they would spend more money than was coming in because they wanted to spend more money than was coming in, what they are claiming is that highway fund lent the general fund money 10 years ago and that money should have had interest paid on it. Of course, at the time, they actually waived the interest, assuming interest should have been paid on that. That interest
has been recouped a couple of times now, allegedly, even if it were owed. But what they claim is that because the money is coming out of the general fund to fund the highway fund, they are calling that an offset so it won't score.
Unfortunately, under the present rules with which we budget around here, it doesn't score because it is built into the baseline. It adds up to $140 billion over the next 10 years, approximately, that is going to come out of the general fund to fund the highway fund because the people who run the highway fund don't have the courage to fund what they want to spend. So they are going to take it out of the general fund. Where does the general fund get its money? It borrows it from our children and
grandchildren. It runs up debt. That is why, under any scenario, no matter what gamesmanship you play around here on naming this event, it turns out to be the same thing: debt added to our children's burden.
Our children already have a fair amount of debt coming at them as a result of this Congress's profligacy. Under the President's budget, the deficit will double in the next 5 years and triple in the next 10 years. We will add $11 trillion of new debt to the backs of our children over the next 10 years under the President's initiatives, every year for the next 10 years. We will average deficits of $1 trillion.
The American people intuitively understand that cannot continue; it can't keep up. We are on an unsustainable course. We are running this Nation into a ditch on the fiscal side of the ledger. We are putting this Nation into financial bankruptcy because of the fact that we are running up deficits and debt far beyond our capacity to repay. In fact, if you look at these deficits and debt just in the context of what other industrialized nations do--for example, the European Union--they don't allow
their states to exceed deficits of 3 percent or a public debt to GDP ratio of 60 percent. The way this works out, we are going to run deficits of about 5 percent every year for the next 10 years, we will have a public debt situation of well over 60 percent next year, and we will get to 80 percent
before the next 10 years are up. Those are numbers which lead to one conclusion--that we are in deep trouble. We are in deep, deep trouble. Yet we come here today with a bill which aggravates that situation relative to the pay-go rules by $12 billion and relative to the highway fund by $140 billion.
Mr. GREGG. What we have before us today is a bill which, first, violates the pay-go rules which we just passed a couple of weeks ago to the tune of $12 billion and, second, puts in place a glidepath, which should be called a nosedive, toward $140 billion of new debt being put on the backs of our children, with the alleged justification that it is offset when, in fact, the offset is superficial, Pyrrhic, and nonexistent.
Mr. INHOFE. Mr. President, when the Senator from New Hampshire talks about what we can and can't do to our children, I remind my fellow Senators, I happen to be blessed with 20 kids and grandkids. I am probably more concerned than anyone else here about future generations. Let me say, to redeem myself in advance, I am a conservative. I have been ranked No. 1 by the ACU, Man of the Year by Human Events. Yet I think we are supposed to be doing something when we come here to Washington. I have always
said, when I run for office, that the two main things we are supposed to do are defend America and infrastructure. Yes, I am the ranking member on the Environment and Public Works Committee. I was the sponsor of the bill in [Page: S720]
and I am proud of it because we had to do something about infrastructure. I don't know, maybe there aren't any roads in New Hampshire, but I can tell you, don't buy into the argument that this is all debt. We are talking about $12 billion.
This bill actually does two things. It has some very good reductions in taxes. I remember so well that John Kennedy, when he was President, said we have to raise more revenue. The best way is to reduce marginal rates. From 1961 to 1968, it went from $94 billion to $153 billion. That is in this thing. But the main thing here I am concerned about is we keep doing nothing about roads and highways and infrastructure. That is what we are supposed to do.
I know the Senator is sincere when he comes up with this, but where was his concern back when he voted to give an unelected bureaucrat $700 billion? That wasn't offset. We can say that was a loan, but we all know better.
There are some things we are supposed to be doing in America, and the second most important thing, in my view--I know others don't share this view--is to do something about infrastructure. This bill does it. This carries it on to the end of the fiscal year, about 11 more months. If we don't do it, it is costing about $1 billion a month by inaction. If we try to do this by extending it month by month, each one of us in this body is going to lose a lot of money that goes to roads and highways and
Last week had a crumbling bridge in Oklahoma where no one was killed, but it came very close to that. We saw what happened up in Minnesota. We have to do something, instead of spending all of our money, as this administration is doing, on social engineering. We need to start building bridges and roads and repairing them.
Mr. SCHUMER. Mr. President, we have had so much partisan gridlock. Today we have a real opportunity to show that this new legislative year can break through that with something meaningful to the American people, a jobs bill. I am hopeful that many colleagues on the other side of the aisle will join us. There has been great input from Senator Inhofe and Senator Hatch. These are people who are conservative, have different voting records than I, but they say we have to do something.
I thank the new Senator from Massachusetts for leading the way and breaking through the miasma. This is a good, focused bill. It is a modest bill, but it will do some good for the hundreds of thousands and perhaps millions who are looking desperately for work. When they find jobs, our economy begins to move forward. That is long overdue.
Both sides of the aisle can show the American people we have heard them by overwhelmingly passing this well-crafted, well-honed, modest piece of legislation aimed at issue No. 1: jobs and the economy.
I yield the floor.