April 15, 2011
Reid Spokesman: GOP Should Admit Their Plan Hikes Drug Prices For Seniors To Finance Tax Breaks For The Rich
Washington, D.C. – Jon Summers, spokesman for Nevada Senator Harry Reid, released the following statement in response to continued lies from Republicans about their dangerous plan to finance tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires by ending Medicare in ten years and immediately reopening the doughnut hole for today’s seniors:
“Spin can’t change the fact that Republicans’ plan reopens the doughnut hole, costing seniors more than $2 billion next year alone. No matter what they say, the fact is the GOP wants to finance their tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires by hiking prescription drug prices for seniors.”
Myth: House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan wrote, “The House Republican budget keeps America’s promises to seniors and those near retirement by making no changes to their current arrangements.”
Fact: Under the GOP budget, Wisconsin seniors will pay $39 million more for their prescription drugs next year alone.
Myth: House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said yesterday, “Now we are also saying for today’s seniors as well as those nearing retirement, we’re not touching your benefits because we know the political peril that is attached to that.”
Fact: Under the GOP budget, Virginia seniors will pay $51 million more for their prescription drugs next year alone.
Myth: “If you are 55 and older, it would mean no changes to Medicare whatsoever,” said U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Miami.
Fact: Under the GOP budget, Florida seniors will pay $155 million more for their prescription drugs next year alone.
Myth: “These programs would only affect people 54 and under,” said U.S. Rep Todd Rokita (R-IN).
Fact: Under the GOP budget, Indiana seniors will pay $54 million more for their prescription drugs next year alone.
April 15, 2011
Reid: Republican Plan To End Medicare, Hike Drug Prices For Seniors To Pay For Tax Breaks For Millionaires Will Never Pass The Senate
Washington, D.C. – Nevada Senator Harry Reid released the following statement after House Republicans voted to approve their budget this afternoon:
“The Republican plan to end Medicare and immediately raise prescription drug costs for seniors in order to pay for millionaire tax breaks will never pass the Senate. The fact that it passed the House shows just how far to the right the Tea Party has dragged the Republican Party.
“In addition to ending Medicare and doubling seniors’ health care costs down the road, the Republican plan would also destroy nearly two million American jobs and undermine our economic growth. Republicans’ plan would only benefit the wealthiest Americans, who would get another round of tax breaks they don’t need and that our economy can’t afford.
“In contrast to Republicans’ plan to end Medicare, Democrats support a responsible approach to reducing the deficit that doesn’t simply shift the burden onto seniors and the middle class, who did nothing to put us in the fiscal hole we are in today. As the President outlined this week, we can reduce the deficit by as much as $4 trillion by making targeted cuts in federal spending that protect seniors’ hard-earned benefits, and by asking millionaires and billionaires to contribute their fair share.”
April 14, 2011
Reid To House Republicans: Friday’s Vote Will Show America Whose Side You’re On
Washington, D.C. – Nevada Senator Harry Reid released the following statement on tomorrow’s House vote on the Republican budget:
“The vote you’ll cast tomorrow presents a clear choice between millionaires and the middle class. Whose side are you on?
“It will also answer for the country this question: Are Republicans serious about reducing the deficit, or are they going to continue pretending we can do it without asking millionaires, billionaires and corporations to pay their fair share?
“Our federal budget is like any family’s budget in that there are two columns: what we take in and what we spend. We can’t have a serious conversation about balancing the budget until Republicans stop pretending that the ledger has only one side.”
April 14, 2011
Fact Check On Senator Kyl
Senator Jon Kyl: “So it’s simply incorrect to say that millions of seniors would be directly affected by the Ryan budget with respect to their Medicare coverage.” [Kyl Floor Speech, 4/14/11]
New Report: GOP Budget Would Immediately Repeal ‘Donut Hole’ Fix, Costing Seniors An Additional $2.2 Billion in Rx Drug Costs Just Next Year. http://democrats.senate.gov/newsroom/record.cfm?id=332500&
… Seems like another #notafactualstatement from Senator Kyl
April 14, 2011
New Report: GOP Budget Would Immediately Repeal ‘Donut Hole’ Fix, Costing Seniors Additional $44B In Rx Drug Costs Through 2020
Republican Budget Would Roll Back ‘Donut Hole’ Fix; New Reform That Just Took Effect Provides 50% Discount To Seniors Who Hit Gap In Medicare Drug Coverage
New State-By-State Report Outlines Devastating Immediate Impact On Nation’s Seniors—Next Year Alone, Seniors Currently In Donut Hole Would Pay An Additional $2.2 Billion For Prescription Drugs
Senators: ‘Extreme GOP Budget Proposal Would Start Hurting Seniors From Day One’
Washington, D.C. – Today, Senate Democrats released a new report outlining how the House Republicans’ FY2012 budget proposal will begin harming seniors immediately if passed into law. This contradicts GOP claims that the budget does not affect Medicare for anyone 55 or older.
If the budget—drafted by Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI)—is enacted into law, it will cost the average senior who currently falls into the “donut hole” approximately $11,794 between 2012 and 2020, according to a report issued by the Department of Health and Human Services. In all, Ryan’s budget will cost seniors an estimated $44 billion in prescription drug costs over that period, including $2.2 billion next year alone. In 2010, approximately 3.7 million seniors fell into the “donut hole.”
“If Congressman Ryan’s budget plan were to be enacted into law, it would immediately hurt senior citizens currently enrolled in Medicare,” said Senator Charles E. Schumer, Chairman of the Democratic Policy and Communications Center. “The oft-repeated talking point that the Republican budget won’t impact current enrollees is simply not true.”
The Republican budget plan would repeal parts of the federal health care law, including measures to close the “donut hole.” Health reform fixed a deficiency in the Medicare prescription drug program by addressing the gap in Medicare Part D that had forced beneficiaries to pay 100 percent of their drug costs after they exceeded an initial coverage limit and until they qualified for catastrophic coverage. That gap in coverage—which totaled $3,610 in 2010—has existed since the drug benefit’s creation in 2006.
Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, signed by President Obama in March 2010, seniors who get stuck in the “donut hole” will now see the costs of their brand name drugs discounted by 50 percent, phasing out the “donut hole” completely over the next ten years.
The DPPC projections for this report used data from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).
April 14, 2011
Rank-And-File Republicans Disagree With GOP Leaders, Say Serious Approach To Deficit Must Include Revenues As Well As Spending Cuts
Boehner, McConnell Tried To Rule Out Revenues Yesterday, But All-of-The-Above Approach to Deficit Has Bipartisan Backing
Schumer: Grand Bargain Is ‘Next To Impossible’ If GOP Leaders Dig In On Protecting Millionaire Tax Breaks, Other Giveaways
WASHINGTON, DC—Rank-and-file Republicans are sharply breaking from their party’s leadership to say that any serious approach to tackling the deficit must include raising revenues.
Prior to President Obama’s speech yesterday outlining an “all-of-the-above” approach to deficit reduction, House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell both tried to rule out any look at the tax code in the upcoming deficit talks. But this ideological approach to the negotiations has been rejected by several top Republicans who say that any serious deficit reduction effort must include enhanced revenues.
Senator Charles E. Schumer, Chairman of the Senate Democratic Policy and Communications Center, said: “A grand bargain on long-term deficit reduction is next to impossible unless we look at raising revenues as well as cutting spending. Republican leaders in Congress will lose credibility on the deficit if they put on ideological straitjackets and dig in their heels on protecting tax breaks for millionaires. Many rank-and-file Republicans who are serious about balancing the budget have said that revenues must be part of the equation, and they are absolutely correct. To rule out revenues right away would mean scuttling any deficit talks before they even begin.”
GOP LAWMAKERS BREAK FROM LEADERSHIP, SAY REVENUES MUST BE ON TABLE
Coburn Supports Raising Taxes If Spending Cut Too. Coburn: “Even though I’ve said we don’t need increased taxes, I’ll take increased taxes if we cut spending. We have to look down the road and solve the problems for everybody, no matter what their label is.” [CSPAN Washington Journal, 11/17/10]
· Fiscal Conservative Tom Coburn Supported Ending Tax Credits for Ethanol to Reduce Nation’s Debt. Coburn wrote in a letter to Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist, “Continuing to issue blanket defenses of all tax expenditures is a profoundly misguided embrace of progressive, activist government and a strategy for tax complexity, tax deferment, excessive spending and unsustainable deficits.” [Bloomberg, 3/30/11]
Chambliss Says Revenue Reform Must Be A Part Of Solving Debt. “Can the folksy Georgian persuade his fellow Republicans, including his buddy Speaker John Boehner (Ohio), to embrace a tax reform package that lowers rates but raises revenue to cut the deficit? …‘John [Boehner] and I have had conversations about the fact that solving this problem is going to be very, very difficult. We have not gotten into the specifics of it,’ Chambliss said. ‘Ultimately I’m hopeful that Republicans in the House and Democrats in the House will see that this problem is so serious and the only way you are going to solve it is to look at the three pillars — cuts in discretionary, entitlement reform and revenue reform.’” [Roll Call, 4/13/11]
Lamar Alexander Says Federal Subsidies for Coal, Oil, and Gas “May Be too Expensive.” At a Department of Energy, Energy Innovation Summit, Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander said, “Sometimes we get so entranced with an idea that we initiate a federal subsidy for it, and it never goes away. We’ve done that with renewable energy, ethanol, mature sources such as coal, oil and gas. That may be too expensive.” According to Platts, “Later, on the sidelines of the conference, Alexander, the third ranking Republican in the Senate, said he may support some of President Barack Obama’s proposal to eliminate $26 billion in oil and gas tax breaks.” [Platts.com, 3/2/11]
Johanns: Let’s Not Take A Thing Off The Table. Johanns said, “You know when I did a letter, and got 32 Republicans and my colleague, Michael Bennet, got 32 Democrats, that letter went to the President. I was asked the same question and I said, look, let’s not take a thing off the table. We’ve got to go into the room ready to work through this. The more we take off the table, the more we say you can’t do this you can’t do that, the less chance we can solve this…I do not like tax increases. But let’s go into the room, everybody with an open mind. And let’s start working through this.” [ABC, 4/13/11]
Freshman House Republican Reid Ribble Believes Oil Subsidies Should Be “Looked At” As Way to Reduce Debt. Republican Congressman Reid Ribble said on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal that subsidies to the oil and gas industry should be “looked at.” When asked for clarification, Ribble’s spokesman said in an email, “America is $14 trillion in debt and as a member of the Budget Committee, Congressman Ribble believes we’ve got to review all our spending priorities. The Congressman sticks by what he said on C-SPAN. He thinks that all energy subsidies should be thoroughly reviewed in this upcoming budget. He believes energy companies should stand on their own without subsidy. It’s time for these companies to sink or swim in the private sector without handouts from the federal taxpayer.” [CSPAN, 4/8/11; Huffington Post, 4/13/11]
Senator Mark Kirk Believes Supports Nixing Big Oil Subsidies; They’re “Doing Just Fine on Their Own.” Q: “Why can’t we start collecting royalties, finally, from the oil companies? Or do something about the subsidies that these very wealthy corporations have? Why can’t we get rid of these tax havens? Why can’t we talk about those things? Why can’t we put those on the table as well?”
KIRK: “I think we should. In the House of Representatives, I voted to wipe out many of the oil company subsidies. They’re doing just fine on their own. I think that many of the corporate welfare programs are misplaced.” [CSPAN, 3/1/11]
Senator Dan Coats on Deficit Reduction: “I Said Everything is on Table and That Includes Ethanol, That Includes All Subsidies.” Coats said, “I said everything is on the table. And that includes ethanol, that includes all subsidies. We have got – I’m elected here to come to Washington to make the tough decisions. And even though they go against the political grain of things, no pun intended there regarding ethanol there — I’ve talked to ethanol people. I’ve said that this is something that’s got to make economic sense.” [ABC News, 4/13/11]
April 13, 2011
Reid: Reno Incident Shows Need To Make Our Airports As Safe As Possible As Soon As Possible
Senate-Passed Aviation Jobs Bill Would Modernize America’s Air Travel, Improve Aviation Safety and Protect Travelers
Washington, DC— Nevada Senator Harry Reid made the following remarks today on the Senate floor. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
“As the country learned today, there was a terrifyingly close call at the Reno airport last night. It is a miracle that everyone is okay. We’re grateful that they are.
“This is what happened: Only one air-traffic controller was in the tower during last night’s overnight shift. A medical aircraft carrying a critically ill passenger couldn’t land because that controller fell asleep on the job.
“We now know that the pilot circled the airport several times. He tried to call the tower not once or twice, but seven times. The controller slept through every one of those calls.
“More than 15 minutes later – minutes during which no one could reach the air-traffic controller while a critically ill passenger suffered – the pilot landed without any guidance from the airport.
“This shouldn’t happen in Nevada. It shouldn’t happen anywhere in the country. It shouldn’t happen to any airplane. And it certainly shouldn’t happen to an air ambulance.
“I spoke today with the Secretary of Transportation, Ray LaHood, and I’m pleased he’s acting quickly to make sure this doesn’t happen ever again – in Reno, or anywhere else.
“Why did it happen? Reno was one of 27 airports in the country that sometimes had only one air-traffic controller on the overnight shift. Because of Secretary LaHood’s quick action, there will now be zero. Effective immediately, every airport will have at least two controllers in the tower.
“I’ve flown into and out of that airport in Reno many times. In October, I was there for the opening of its new control tower. It was badly needed. When the Reno airport’s old control tower was built, Dwight Eisenhower was in the White House and the Dodgers were in Brooklyn.
“In the half century since, the area’s population more than tripled. So it was fitting, we said at the time, that the airport opened a control tower three times as tall as the old one.
“But last night’s near-tragedy reminds us that state-of-the-art structures and the best technology work only as well as the people operating them. If those people fall asleep on the job, they risk the lives of the millions of Americans who fly into and out of our airports every day.
“Secretary LaHood and Randy Babbitt, the FAA Administrator, are doing their jobs. I appreciate their responsiveness and share their outrage that this ever happened.
“Congress has a role to play, too, and we have to do our job. The Senate passed a bill in February – two months ago – to modernize America’s air travel. It would improve aviation safety and protect travelers. It would even help reduce delays, and improve access to rural communities. And it would do all of this while creating jobs.
“The Republican House also passed a companion bill this month. But the House bill is almost the opposite of ours. It’s dangerous. It doesn’t protect passengers; it imperils them.
“The Republican bill would cut the modern navigation systems at our nation’s airports. The FAA said that the House bill would force it to furlough safety-related employees. Not just any employees – those whose primary job is keeping air travel safe. That doesn’t make any sense.
“It would also keep airports from making the infrastructure improvements they need, and would completely end the program that ensures rural communities – small towns like Ely, Nevada – have air service.
“The Senate-passed bill and the House-passed bill are now in conference committee to work out the differences. Clearly, there are a lot of differences, and the conferees have some choices to make. But they need to make them quickly so that both houses can pass this bill and send it to the President.
“Again, we’re grateful that everyone in Reno is okay. But the next time, we may not be so lucky.
“Let’s make our airports and air travel as safe as possible, as soon as possible, so that next time, we don’t have to rely on luck.”
April 13, 2011
Senate Democratic Women Call On Republicans To End Continued Assault On Women’s Health
Washington, DC—Today, Senate Democratic women joined together to urge their Republican colleagues to vote against the upcoming resolutions that would eliminate funding for Planned Parenthood and roll back health care reform, and to end a continued legislative assault on women’s health care options. The Senators highlighted the devastating impacts these resolutions would have on women and families across the country.
“Even though the Republicans want to take women back to the Dark Ages, we will not go,” Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-MD) said. “We will fight them with every legislative tool at our disposal. Make no mistake: This entire process has not been about reducing the debt or the deficit – it’s been about reducing opportunity. The major constituencies that bear this burden are the women and children”
“I am proud to stand here with my Democratic women colleagues to send the message that we are not going to allow women to be thrown under the bus in this – or any other – budget debate,” said Senator Patty Murray (D-WA). “As a woman and a mother, I am angry that women’s health care is even up for debate right now. I truly hope that once we win these votes and put the issues behind us, Republicans stop playing ideological political games, and work with us in good faith on the serious issues facing our country.”
“This is simply an opportunity for the right wing to turn back the clock and really sock it to American women,” said Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA). “To be clear, to end federal funding for Planned Parenthood is to stop providing critical health care to millions of American women, the majority of whom are poor and cannot afford the range of preventative health services provided in California and around the country.”
“While claiming to be focused solely on deficit
reduction, Republicans have been pushing an extreme ideological agenda that threatens the health and lives of American women,” said Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), We will continue to stand up for the millions of women and families who rely on these preventive and life-saving health care services.”
“While our budget hangs in the balance, Republicans have chosen to wage a war on women’s health, and we are the last line of defense,” said Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA). “We should not be diverted by an extremist social agenda not supported by the majority of Americans. Let’s get back to putting Americans back to work, creating new jobs, and moving our economy forward.”
“Votes on unrelated political issues are a distraction from the real debate over the budget, which itself is a distraction from what we should be talking about–creating jobs,” said Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI). “It’s very troubling that a vote to cut cancer screenings and routine care for women was what the Republicans demanded in exchange for not shutting down the government.”
“Just days after a bipartisan budget agreement, I am frustrated that the Senate will spend valuable time on a partisan measure that threatens to take away vital health services for millions of vulnerable American women,” Senator Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) said. “Last year, North Carolina Planned Parenthood facilities performed more than 11,000 breast and cervical cancer screenings and 18,000 STD tests for women who could not otherwise afford these services. I hope my colleagues will stop playing political Russian Roulette with women’s health services and instead focus on a bipartisan, comprehensive plan to reduce our long-term debt.”
“In some parts of New Hampshire, Planned Parenthood is the only provider of preventive health care services to low-income women,” said Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.). “It’s going to be far worse for patients and more expensive for the government if we eliminate this funding.”
“The election last November was not a mandate for any one political party or ideology,” said Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY). “It was a mandate for action – for solutions that will create jobs and get our country going again. But what are the House Republicans focused on? Not creating jobs. Not growing our economy – but an assault on the rights of women, and health services for millions of American families. These votes to defund Planned Parenthood and repeal health care reform show a disregard for women. If Republicans continue their anti-woman agenda, they will continue to find a fight in the Senate.”
April 13, 2011
Reid Statement On President’s Plan To Reduce The Deficit
Washington, D.C. – Nevada Senator Harry Reid released the following statement on President Obama’s speech on long-term deficit reduction:
“The President’s responsible vision for reducing the deficit provides a clear contrast with Republicans’ reckless plan to end Medicare and Social Security. The President’s plan will reduce the deficit by more than $4 trillion while protecting seniors on Medicare, and it recognizes that Social Security should be dealt with separately. The Republican plan, on the other hand, uses the shared goal of reducing our deficit as an excuse for slashing seniors’ hard-earned benefits in order to pay for tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires.
“There’s been a lot of talk about shared sacrifice when it comes to cutting spending and reducing the deficit. Republicans believe the sacrifice should fall mainly on seniors and the middle class, while millionaires and big corporations get more tax breaks. As the President made clear, Democrats have a different view. We believe that the responsible approach is to make sure the wealthiest Americans contribute their fair share as we try to bring our fiscal situation back into balance.
“I look forward to sitting down with my colleagues and the President to chart a course to deficit reduction that strengthens the middle class and protects seniors.”
April 13, 2011
Reid Spokesman: Republicans Rejecting Plan They Haven’t Read And President Hasn’t Announced To Distract From Their Extreme Plan To End Medicare
Washington, D.C. – Jon Summers, spokesman for Nevada Senator Harry Reid, released the following statement in response to premature Republican attacks on the President’s deficit-reduction plan, which they launched hours before the President released his plan:
“What do you do when you’re scared that the centerpiece of your entire agenda is about to be exposed as a Trojan horse for your real goal of ending Medicare and Social Security to pay for tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires? You kick and scream and create a diversion, just like Republicans are doing now by criticizing a plan they haven’t even seen yet.
“Democrats are serious about reducing the deficit and protecting seniors’ hard-earned benefits, unlike Republicans who are rejecting the president’s plan without even reading it. Republicans’ shallow, knee-jerk reaction proves that their posturing on the deficit is just an attempt to distract from their bankrupt ideas.”
April 12, 2011
It’s All About Priorities
Democrats Fighting for Programs that Reflect Our Values: Strengthening Middle Class, Protecting Seniors, Women, Children
Washington, D.C. – Nevada Senator Harry Reid made the following statement today on the budget. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
“I’m always moved to hear the Pledge of Allegiance that marks the beginning of a new legislative day in the United States Senate. On the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War, the words ‘one nation, indivisible,’ mean more today than on most days. Along with Chaplain Black’s inspired invocation, the Pledge motivates us and reminds us of the true purpose of our work.
“Together, they recall our responsibility to our country, to our countrymen and to our conscience.
“I’m particularly pleased to see the Senate open this morning. As we all know, last week at this time – and even as recently as a few evenings ago – whether the government would stay open was a very real question.
“As I said here late on Friday night, I’m pleased we reached an agreement on a budget in time to keep the country running. And I’m pleased that budget will make historic cuts – saving the country money so we can lower our deficit and do a better job of living within our means.
“All indications show that the American people are pleased, as well. A clear majority of the country is glad we reached an agreement, and they approve of the agreement we made.
“At the beginning of this debate, and throughout the last few weeks, I reminded the Senate that in this negotiation – like in any negotiation – neither side would get everything it wanted.
“From the start, I also expressed my firm belief that what we cut will always be more important than how much we cut. That is because our nation’s budget is a representation of our values, and of what we value. It is one of the many ways we demonstrate – as a Congress and as a country – what matters most to us, what is important.
“This concept is not unique to Democrats. As the Republican Speaker of the House and the Chairman of the House Budget Committee have both said, our budget is a moral document.
“But those following the budget debate have noticed something unmistakable: While both parties may agree, in principle, that a budget is more than simply a collection of numbers, our priorities couldn’t be more different.
“We value Americans’ rights to afford a healthy life. That’s why we passed historic health reform last year. But Republicans tried to use the budget to repeal those rights. We stayed true to our values, and we didn’t let them.
“We value women’s health. But Republicans tried to use the budget to make it harder for women to get contraception that reduces abortions. Their budget also tried to make it harder for women to get cancer screenings, and tried to slash funding for cancer research. We stayed true to our values, and we didn’t let them.
“We also value our seniors’ ability to support themselves. But Republicans tried to use the budget to slash the Social Security Administration. That would have meant delays for seniors and disabled Americans who count on the benefits they’ve earned over a lifetime of hard work. They also tried to use the budget to re-open the doughnut hole, which would have sent seniors’ prescription drug bills skyrocketing. We stayed true to our values, and we didn’t let them.
“We value our children’s education. But Republicans tried to use the budget to kick boys and girls out of pre-kindergarten programs, and slash the Pell Grants that help so many students afford college. We stayed true to our values, and we didn’t let them.
“We value our environment. But Republicans tried to use the budget to give polluters a free pass to poison the air we breathe and the water we drink. We stayed true to our values, and we didn’t let them.
“We value our economic security. But Republicans tried to repeal the promise we made to taxpayers that they will never again be asked to bail out a big bank when that bank loses its risky bets. They tried to use the budget to reverse the rules we put in place to hold Wall Street accountable. We stayed true to our values, and we didn’t let them.
“Finally, we value our responsibility to create jobs. But Republicans also tried to use the budget to reverse the momentum we’ve seen in recent months. The policies they tried to jam through the budget would have cost us 700,000 jobs, slashed job-training programs and slammed the brakes on our economic growth. We stayed true to our values, and we didn’t let them.
“There are many more examples in this vast budget – examples of programs Republicans wanted to destroy but that Democrats demanded we protect. There are many examples where they wanted to cut recklessly and we insisted on cutting responsibly.
“Throughout this debate, we stayed true to our values. The American people noticed, and they’re glad we did. By clear majorities, our constituents are glad we stood up for health reform, for women’s health, for cleaner air, and on and on.
“This budget battle has once again illustrated for the American people the fundamental differences between the two parties. In some cases, our priorities are poles apart. That’s obvious to the American people – as well it should be. They are the ones who will always decide which of their representatives’ morals most closely match their own.
“As we work toward finalizing this year’s budget, as we start the conversation about next year’s budget, and as we engage in the many other debates before us, Democrats will continue to insist on policies that reflect and respect our values.”
April 12, 2011
Schumer, In Senate Floor Speech, Urges Rep. Ryan To Go Back To Drawing Board On Budget That Cuts Medicare To Pay For Millionaire Tax Breaks
Ryan Proposal Would Take Savings From Medicare Cuts To Bring Millionaires’ Tax Rates To Lowest Level Since Herbert Hoover
Schumer: When It Comes To Tackling Rising Medicare Costs, President Did It First—And Did It Better—In Healthcare Law
Senator Says President’s Speech on Deficit Reduction Will Draw Important Contrast with House GOP
Washington, DC—Today, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer said the Senate would never pass the House Republicans’ budget proposal that cuts Medicare and urged the plan’s architect, Congressman Paul Ryan, to go back to the drawing board and pursue a fairer proposal.
“The Ryan budget puts the middle class last instead of first. As a result, it will never pass the Senate,” Schumer said.
Schumer said Medicare is better reformed by pursuing broader changes to the health care delivery system like the healthcare law signed by President Obama last year did.
“If we are serious about reining in Medicare spending, there is a far better starting place than the Ryan budget. It is the healthcare law passed by Congress last year,” Schumer said. “Republicans are patting themselves on the back lately for leading on entitlement reform. But when it comes to reining in the runaway costs of Medicare, the truth is, the President did it first and he did it better.”
Ryan’s budget plan, which is expected to receive a vote in the House this week, would end traditional Medicare and replace it with a voucher system that would force seniors to find private insurance. The savings from the plan would fund tax code changes that would reduce rates on millionaires and billionaires to the lowest level since Herbert Hoover’s presidency.
A full copy of Schumer’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, appears below.
U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer
Senate Floor Remarks
April 12, 2011
As Prepared for Delivery
Madam President, I rise to discuss the issue of our budget.
Later this week, the House will vote on its FY2012 budget resolution. Congressman Paul Ryan, the author of that blueprint, calls it the “Path to Prosperity.”
Madam President, it may be a path to austerity, but it is hardly a path to prosperity.
Nonetheless, with negotiations finished just days ago on last year’s budget, Congressman Ryan has succeeded in jumpstarting the debate about next year’s.
The President himself will join this conversation about how best to do long-term deficit reduction in a major address tomorrow at George Washington University.
This is a debate we must have, and the President’s entrance to it comes not a moment too soon. It will make for a powerful contrast with the House Republicans’ plan.
The contrast we will hear from our President tomorrow will likely not be in terms of commitment to deficit reduction. Paul Ryan’s goal in his budget is to trim the deficit by $1.6 trillion over the next 10 years. He does not succeed in meeting this target, according to CBO—in fact, budget experts say his proposal only achieves $155 billion in deficit reduction—but the number itself is not the issue. Without a doubt, we must be ambitious in setting a target for deficit reduction. We cannot be gun-shy about achieving fiscal discipline.
So no, the contrast will not be about how much we seek to reduce the deficit. It will be about how we go about doing so.
The Republicans would like the looming debate to be one about numbers, but it will instead be one about priorities. And, Madam President, the Ryan budget has all the wrong priorities.
The House Republican budget puts the entire burden of reducing the deficit on senior citizens, students and middle-class families. At the same time, it protects corporate subsidies for oil companies, lets waste at the Pentagon go untouched, and would give even more tax breaks to millionaires.
In short, the Ryan budget puts the middle class last instead of first. As a result, it will never pass the Senate.
In the days since he first rolled out his budget proposal, Congressman Ryan has been hailed for taking on the tough challenges. But a closer look at his proposal shows that it is not bold at all. In leaving Pentagon spending and revenues completely untouched, Ryan’s budget hews exactly to his party’s orthodoxy. It doesn’t gore a single Republican ox. It is a rigid, ideological document.
Consider what Congressman Ryan wants to do on Medicare. In the name of ideology, Paul Ryan’s budget proposes getting rid of Medicare as it exists today and replacing it with a private system that would cut benefits.
Madam President, we’ve seen this movie before. Five years ago, President Bush tried to sell the country on a plan to privatize Social Security. The public rejected it.
Well, if you didn’t like what President Bush tried to do to Social Security, just wait until you see what Paul Ryan and the House Republicans want to do to Medicare.
Their budget plan proposes putting the Medicare system into the hands of private insurance companies. That is a recipe for disaster. It would mean an end to Medicare as we know it.
Beginning in 2022, Americans turning 65 would no longer be enrolled in Medicare, but instead receive a voucher to go shopping for their own health insurance on the open market.
Insurance companies, however, would not be required to honor that voucher, which would average about $8,000. Many private insurance plans for seniors far exceed that price already today. But under the Ryan plan, seniors who cannot find an affordable plan at the value of their voucher will simply have to make up the difference themselves.
This problem would only worsen over time as health care costs rise. Ryan caps Medicare’s spending at the level of inflation even though historically, healthcare costs rise higher than that. As Ryan’s voucher covers a smaller and smaller fraction of actual healthcare costs, seniors would have to cover the gap out-of-pocket.
This is why Alice Rivlin, a Democrat and President Clinton’s former OMB Director who worked with Ryan on his approach for a time, has distanced herself from his final product. She told the Washington Post that she opposes the Ryan plan. She has said: “In the Ryan version, he has lowered the rate of growth and I don’t think that’s defensible. It pushed too much of the cost onto the beneficiaries.”
Other Medicare experts agree with Rivlin. Stephen Zuckerman, a health care economist at the non-partisan Urban Institute said, “The most serious flaw is that the focus of this approach is on limiting federal spending on Medicare, without being concerned about the potential of this change to shift costs to Medicare beneficiaries.”
A better way to rein in Medicare spending would be to trim waste and inefficiency out of the delivery system. But it turns out that Ryan’s plan not only does nothing to reduce overall health care costs, it increases them.
According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, in 2030, traditional Medicare insurance would cost just 60 percent of a private policy purchased with Ryan’s proposed voucher. In other words, the Ryan health care plan would cost two-thirds more than traditional Medicare.
Not only would the Ryan plan increase insurance costs, it would force seniors to shoulder a higher share of those costs.
CBO said, “Under the proposal, most elderly people who would be entitled to premium support payments would pay more for their health care than they would pay under the current Medicare system.”
How much more, Madam President? It is staggering when you look at the numbers. Under the current system, the average senior on Medicare in 2022 will contribute about 25 percent of the cost of their healthcare. CBO found that under the Ryan plan, the share paid by seniors would go up to 68 percent.
This is a crippling burden that would drive the average Medicare recipient into poverty. It is not only too much to ask of our seniors, it destroys the foundation of our healthcare system.
The bottom line is, the House Republican budget would cause the cost of health insurance to rise, and then would make seniors pay a greater share of that higher cost. It is a cut in benefits, plain and simple.
If we are serious about reining in Medicare spending, there is a far better starting place than the Ryan budget. It is the healthcare law passed by Congress last year.
Republicans are patting themselves on the back lately for leading on entitlement reform. But when it comes to reining in the runaway costs of Medicare, the truth is the President did it first and he did it better.
In the healthcare law, Madam President, we made a good start on reducing waste, inefficiency, and duplication in the system. We started down the path of making delivery system reforms. We set up a system for studying the effectiveness of different methods and treatments so that care could be delivered more efficiently. We made a down payment on shifting the larger healthcare system away from a fee-for-service model towards a system that pays providers for episodes of care.
The Ryan proposal adopts none of these cost-cutting approaches. In fact, his budget calls for the repeal of the healthcare law altogether. Left unsaid is that this would have a side effect of re-opening the donut hole, another hit to Medicare beneficiaries.
Now, if the Ryan budget’s only goal was to end Medicare, that would be ample enough cause to work tooth and nail to defeat it. But the Ryan budget doesn’t even put most of its savings from ending Medicare towards deficit reduction. Instead, it puts the savings towards further tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans.
That’s right, Madam President. Ryan’s budget not only seeks to permanently extend the Bush tax cuts for millionaires. He wants to cut their taxes even lower than the Bush levels.
As unbelievable as it sounds, he wants to give millionaires and billionaires an extra tax break.
Ryan’s budget proposal would bring the top rate down from 35 percent to 25 percent. This would make for the lowest level since 1931 when Herbert Hoover was President.
This is the trade Congressman Ryan proposes we make: cut Medicare benefits for seniors so we can afford to give millionaires an extra tax break.
This is the exact opposite of what the public wants. They don’t think millionaires and billionaires should even be getting George Bush’s tax cut, let alone an extra one atop that.
In last month’s NBC/Wall Street Journal poll that asked Americans what proposals they most support to reduce the deficit, 81 percent of Americans said they would support a tax on millionaires. This was the highest-polling answer. One of the lowest-polling answers was—you guessed it—cutting Medicare benefits. So the Ryan budget has its priorities completely upside down.
Now, you may ask if Congressman Ryan puts all his savings from cutting Medicare into millionaire tax breaks, how does he propose to achieve any deficit reduction?
The answer is, by targeting the programs most important to middle class Americans. It turns out that the Republican plan to end Medicare is also a plan to end other important programs.
For example, the Republican plan to end Medicare is additionally a plan to cut tens of thousands of teachers. And the Republican plan to end Medicare is additionally a plan cut Head Start for kids. The Republican plan to end Medicare is additionally a plan to cut medical research on diseases like cancer. And the Republican plan to end Medicare is additionally a plan to cut clean energy projects that create jobs and help us become energy independent.
In all, the Ryan plan assumes a steady squeezing of government until by 2050, the total cost of everything save for Social Security and health care is shrunk from 12 percent of GDP to just 3 percent.
But he doesn’t spell out a single detail of how to achieve those cuts. He has a number, but no specifics. That is the definition of a meat axe approach as opposed to a smart, sharp scalpel.
But even though Ryan doesn’t spell out where the cuts would come from to meet his goal, it isn’t a total mystery. We can fill in the blanks. The just-completed debate on the FY2011 budget offers plenty of hints what the Republican approach to cutting spending is.
In the budget debate we just had, Republicans wanted to cut the very programs that create good-paying jobs and help the middle class. They targeted everything from cancer research to financial aid for college.
We fended off many of their worst cuts by successfully pushing to include $17 billion in cuts from the mandatory side. We also got them to agree to reduce Pentagon spending by nearly $3 billion compared to their original budget.
This was not the Republicans’ preferred way to reduce the deficit. Because of ideology, they disproportionately targeted the domestic discretionary part of the budget for cutting, even though it only represents only 12 percent of the total budget.
But our deficit problems weren’t caused by Head Start and cancer research, and we won’t fix them by going after Head Start and cancer research. In the budget debates to come, we need to broaden the playing field beyond domestic discretionary spending.
It should include, for instance, waste in the Department of Defense. The Pentagon makes up half of the discretionary side of the budget, but Republicans continue to treat it as off-limits. Ryan himself leaves it virtually untouched, save for a symbolic trim. To say there isn’t waste at the Pentagon like there is waste elsewhere in the budget is absurd.
The bottom line is, any budget that leaves defense and revenues off the table is ultimately not serious. We need an “all of the above” approach that puts all parts of the budget on the table. A dollar cut from mandatory spending or the Pentagon is just as good as a dollar cut from non-defense discretionary spending.
Deficit reduction is an important goal, but the sacrifice must be shared. The Ryan budget fails that test.
This Democratic Senate will not stand for any proposal that seeks to balance the budget on the backs of the middle class and seniors.
I look forward to hearing the President’s remarks tomorrow. As for Congressman Ryan, I would encourage him to go back to the drawing board and come up with a fairer, more balanced plan.
Thank you and I yield the floor.
April 12, 2011
Reid Statement On 150th Anniversary Of The First Battle Of The Civil War
Washington, D.C. – Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid made the following statement on the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the Civil War:
“On this day 150 years ago, the first shots of the Civil War were fired in South Carolina, marking the beginning of four dark years when our nation seemed irreparably divided. Today we commemorate this defining time in our history, recalling the sacrifices by so many Americans, and celebrating the first steps toward ending the stain of slavery and bringing true liberty to all Americans. Nevada joined the Union at the height of that war, and our Battle-Born State will continue to push for equality for all our citizens.
“Today we should also remember that the work of creating the perfect Union envisioned by the founders, and for which those soldiers fought so long ago, is ongoing. Even 150 years later we must continue, as Lincoln said, to dedicate ourselves to the unfinished work for which so many patriots gave their lives: to create a nation rooted in the belief that all people are created equal, and dedicated to making sure they are treated equally in this world.”
April 12, 2011
Reid, Mikulski, DeLauro Mark Equal Pay Day By Introducing Bill To Close Pay Gap For Women
Paycheck Fairness Act Strengthens Federal Pay Equity Laws
Washington, D.C. – In honor of Equal Pay Day, Nevada Senator Harry Reid joined Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.) today in introducing the Paycheck Fairness Act to strengthen federal pay equity laws and ensure equal pay for equal work. Congresswoman Rosa L. DeLauro (D-Conn.) introduced the bill in the House of Representatives. Equal Pay Day is the day that represents how far into 2011 women have to work to earn what men earned in 2010.
“Every week the average American woman must work seven days to take home the same paycheck it takes a man only five days to earn. Sadly, this benchmark represents progress,” Senator Reid said. “That’s why we must all work harder every day, including Equal Pay Day, to ensure every American’s salary is determined by skill rather than gender. The Paycheck Fairness Act is an important step toward eliminating gender pay discrepancies in the workplace, which is more important than ever as more women become the dominant breadwinners for Nevada families.”
“Women make this country run – we are business leaders, entrepreneurs, politicians, mothers and more,” Senator Mikulski said. “We also bring home a growing share of the family pocketbook. But we earn just 77 cents for every dollar our male counterpart makes, and women of color get even less. Inexplicably, these disparities exist across all levels of education and occupation. In Maryland, the average woman has to receive a bachelor’s degree before she earns as much as the average male high school graduate. This is unacceptable, and with many Americans earning less and operating on smaller family budgets, the issue of pay equity is being felt now more than ever. “
The Senate bill is co-sponsored by Senators Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Robert P. Casey Jr. (D-Pa.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), John Kerry (D-Mass.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Frank R. Lautenberg (D-N.J.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Carl Levin (D-Mich.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).
In 2009, Senator Reid helped lead the effort in the Senate to pass the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which increased protections for individuals facing pay discrimination. But according to U.S. Census data, women are still paid 77 cents on the dollar for the same job as men. The Paycheck Fairness Act builds on the promise of the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and helps close the pay gap by empowering women to negotiate for equal pay, closing loopholes courts have created in the law, creating strong incentives for employers to obey the laws and strengthening federal outreach and enforcement efforts.
Specifically, the legislation:
· Clarifies the ‘any factor other than sex’ defense so an employer trying to justify paying a man more than a woman for the same job must show the disparity is not sex-based; is job related and is necessary for the business.
· Prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who discuss or disclose salary information with their co-workers.
· Strengthens the remedies available to include punitive and compensatory damages. Under the EPA currently, plaintiffs can only recover back pay or, in some cases, double back pay. The bill would ensure that women can receive the same remedies for pay discrimination that are available under other laws for discrimination based on race and national origin.
· Requires the Department of Labor to improve outreach and training efforts to work with employers in order to eliminate pay disparities.
· Enhances the collection of information on women’s and men’s wages in order to more fully explore the reasons for the wage gap and help employers in addressing pay disparities.
· Creates a new grant program to help strengthen the negotiation skills of girls and women.
April 12, 2011
Summary of Bipartisan Budget Deal
The bipartisan agreement cuts spending by $78.5 billion from the President’s FY2011 budget request – the largest annual spending cut in our history. These are real cuts that will save taxpayers money and have a real impact. Democrats safeguarded investments we need to stay competitive and protect our economic gains. We also made sure that this was a debate about spending cuts, not social issues or an ideological agenda that has nothing to do with our budget.
Final Plan Increases Investment in Key Democratic Initiatives
Head Start: Democrats denied Republicans’ attempt to cut more than 200,000 children from Head Start early education programs and, instead, actually increased our investment in Head Start by $340 million over Fiscal Year 2010.
Race to the Top: Democrats denied Republicans’ attempt to eliminate support for Race to the Top, an initiative designed to spur systemic reform and embrace innovative approaches to teaching and learning in America’s schools, and instead were able to increase the investment in this important program.
Veterans’ Affairs: Democrats increased funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs, including increased funding specifically for veterans’ health care.
Wall Street Reform: Democrats increased investment in the Securities and Exchange Commission and Commodity Futures Trading Commission to protect consumers.
Public Health and Safety: Democrats increased support for the Food and Drug Administration in order to protect public health and safety.
Mine Safety: Democrats increased the federal investment in the Mine Safety and Health Administration so we the agency can improve emergency response and carry out aggressive enforcement actions to protect American workers.
Final Plan Protects Domestic Discretionary Investments That Are Key to our Economic Growth
Public Schools: Democrats denied Republicans’ attempt to slash Title I education funding for 2,400 schools serving one million students.
Community Health Centers: Democrats denied Republicans’ attempt to force community health centers nationwide to shut their doors.
Job Training: Democrats denied Republicans’ attempt to eliminate job training state grants for Adults, Youth and Dislocated Workers.
Cancer Research and NIH: Democrats provided $1.4 billion more for the National Institutes of Health than Republicans originally proposed, protecting life-saving research into cancer and other diseases.
Transportation Investments: Democrats denied Republicans’ attempt to eliminate investments in the TIGER program, which supports transportation infrastructure projects and helps spur local economic growth. The Republican cuts would have put more than 30,000 jobs at risk.
For a full list of the domestic discretionary cuts, see the Senate Appropriations Committee summary, available here: http://www.appropriations.senate.gov/news.cfm
Final Plan Includes $18 Billion In Mandatory Spending Cuts (“CHIMPs”)
Democrats succeeded in spreading out the cuts across other parts of the budget. $18 billion of the final cuts came from changes to mandatory programs, or “CHIMPs”. These are real cuts and produce real savings, but including mandatory cuts staved off severe cuts to key domestic programs like education, clean energy and medical research.
Mandatory cuts in the final compromise include:
$6.8 billion cut from Labor, HHS, Education CHIMPS
•$3.5 billion cut from CHIPRA Performance Bonuses
•$2.5 billion cut from the fund to encourage health care cooperatives
•$493 million cut by ending year-round Pell Grants (consistent with proposal in the President’s FY2011 Budget)
•$30 million cut from job training program for student loan processors
$5.6 billion cut from Commerce, Justice, Science CHIMPS
•$4.9 billion cut from DOJ Crime Victims Fund
•$495 million cut from DOJ Assets Forfeiture Fund
•$68 million cut from Commerce Promote and Develop Fisheries Transfer
•$59 million cut from OPM, Patent and Trade Office Employee Health Benefits Pre-funding
•$40 million cut from DOJ Working Capital Fund
•$4 million cut from DHS Citizenship and Immigration Services Transfer
$3.2 billion cut from Transportation and HUD CHIMPS
•$2.5 billion cut from transportation earmarks
•$630 million cut from DOT Federal highway aid
$1.5 billion cut from Agriculture CHIMPS
•$350 million cut from Environmental Quality Incentives Program
•$331 million cut from CCC Export Credit Guarantee Program
•$207 million cut from Rural Economic Development Grants
•$176 million cut from Wetlands Reserve Program
•$165 million cut from Watershed Rehabilitation Program
•$134 million cut from Biomass Research and Development
•$117 cut from CN Fruit and Vegetable Transfer Limitation
•$35 million cut from crop insurance rebate program
•$15 million cut from SNAP Employment and Training
$473 million cut from Financial Services CHIMPS
•$400 million cut from Treasury Forfeiture Fund
$140 million cut from State and Foreign Ops CHIMPS
•$140 million cut from H1B and L Fraud Prevention and Detection
$89 million cut from Interior and Environment CHIMPS
•$42 million cut from Interior Department Mineral Leasing and Associated Payments
•$30 million cut from National Park Service Land Acquisition and State Assistance
$23 million cut from Homeland Security CHIMPS
•$23 million cut from the Treasury Forfeiture Fund
Final Plan Streamlines Defense Spending as Requested By Secretary Gates, Eliminating $3 Billion In Wasteful Pentagon Spending Against GOP Objections
Democrats won the argument, advanced by Secretary Gates, that waste at the Pentagon should not be immune from spending cuts. The final agreement eliminates nearly $3 billion in unnecessary Pentagon spending that was contained in HR1. These reductions are supported by Secretary Gates, and they ensure that no parts of the budget are treated as off-limits when it comes to cutting waste and inefficiency.
•The Department of Defense will be funded at $513 billion, about $3 billion less than Republicans proposed, and up from $508 billion in FY10.
•The CR does not include funding for an alternative engine for the Joint Strike Fighter.
Final Plan Denies GOP Extreme Policy Riders
Democrats fought off major social policy attacks on the budget – including attacks on women’s health. The Republican overreach on ideological add-ons had no place in a budget debate.
Key Riders That Republicans’ Wanted But Are NOT In the Final Compromise Include:
•Denied GOP attempt to bar EPA regulations
•Denied GOP attempt to defund the Wall Street Reform law
•Denied GOP attempt to defund the Affordable Care Act
•Denied GOP attempt to bar the Department of Education from implementing rules protecting students at for-profit colleges
•Denied GOP attempt to defund Planned Parenthood
•Denied GOP attempt to eliminate Title X Women’s health funding
•Denied GOP attempt to restore “Mexico City” policy
•Denied GOP attempt to defund the United Nations Population Fund
•Denied GOP attempt to bar needle exchange programs
•Denied GOP attempt to bar net neutrality rules
•Denied GOP attempt to eliminate the Presidential Election Campaign Fund
•Denied GOP attempt to defund NPR and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting
•Denied GOP attempt to consider nuclear storage at Yucca Mountain
Key Riders That Are Included in the Final Compromise Include:
•Final plan restores the D.C. abortion ban for five months
•Final plan restores D.C. school voucher pilot program
•Final plan bars regulators from using the Endangered Species Act to protect wolves in Idaho, Montana and portions of Oregon, Washington and Utah
•Final plan restricts the transfer of prisoners from Guantanamo Bay
•Final plan includes compromise language on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Climate Service
•Final plan includes compromise language on NASA’s work with China and Chinese-owned companies
•Final plan includes four studies on the Affordable Care Act and an independent study of the Consumer Financial Protection Board
•Final plan includes a compromise on the Department of Defense Joint Forces Command
•Final plan restricts NOAA from implementing programs to restore fisheries in the Gulf and Atlantic through catch share programs
•Final plan includes compromise language on the FEMA Firefighter grant program and Urban Area Security Initiative Grant program