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Senate Proceeding on Sep 19th, 2007 :: 9:29:32 to 9:50:39
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Chuck Grassley

9:28:18 to 9:54:37( Edit History Discussion )
Speech By: Chuck Grassley

Chuck Grassley

9:29:21 to 9:29:36( Edit History Discussion )

Chuck Grassley: everybody living in this country country, particularly the wrelt wealth wealthy, ought to pay a little bit of tax as a matter of fairness. now, you can argue whether that's a good rationale, but

Chuck Grassley

9:29:36 to 9:29:50( Edit History Discussion )

Chuck Grassley: that was the rationale back in 1969. so you can see that there's a massive amount of revenue projected to come in from people that were never supposed to pay it that somehow you're supposed to offset.

Chuck Grassley

9:29:50 to 9:30:04( Edit History Discussion )

Chuck Grassley: so that that revenue that was never supposed to come in isn't lost. now, i know that doesn't sound reasonable to the average commonsense american listening to me out there but that's the way our budget

Chuck Grassley

9:30:04 to 9:30:21( Edit History Discussion )

Chuck Grassley: laws is -- or the budget laws are and that's the way that congress has to respond to it, whether it makes sense or not. | left alone, the congressional budget office calculates that more than 60% of

Chuck Grassley

9:30:21 to 9:30:36( Edit History Discussion )

Chuck Grassley: the families and individuals in america will fall prey to the alternative minimum tax as it absorbs more than 15% of the total tax liability by the year 2050. this new -- this next chart that i'm going to

Chuck Grassley

9:30:36 to 9:30:52( Edit History Discussion )

Chuck Grassley: show you taken from the same congressional budget office publication illustrates how under law, revenues collected by the government are projected to push above their historical average and to keep

Chuck Grassley

9:30:52 to 9:31:10( Edit History Discussion )

Chuck Grassley: growing as the a.m.t. brings in more and more money. and you can see the historical average over a period into the future now for 40 years, but it follows a historical average going back 40 years

Chuck Grassley

9:31:10 to 9:31:23( Edit History Discussion )

Chuck Grassley: before now. and just because of the alternative minimum tax mostly, but for other law changes, current law, we're going to see the revenue coming into the federal government growing to almost 25% of gross

Chuck Grassley

9:31:23 to 9:31:42( Edit History Discussion )

Chuck Grassley: national product. now, from a philosophical point of view and an economic point of view, what's wrong with that? philosophically, less freedom for the americans. as we spend more of their money,

Chuck Grassley

9:31:42 to 9:31:56( Edit History Discussion )

Chuck Grassley: they have less economic freedom. but more importantly, the economic harm that comes from 535 members of congress speing 25% of the gross national product instead of using the historical average of about

Chuck Grassley

9:31:56 to 9:32:10( Edit History Discussion )

Chuck Grassley: 18%, that 7% difference means that we're going to make decisions on how to spend it instead of the 137 million taxpayers in this country deciding how to spend it, when it will turn over in the

Chuck Grassley

9:32:10 to 9:32:31( Edit History Discussion )

Chuck Grassley: economy more times than if we spend and do more economic good and create more jobs and have more economic freedom. that's what's at stake here in this whole debate if we don't do anything about t

Chuck Grassley

9:32:31 to 9:32:47( Edit History Discussion )

Chuck Grassley: alternative minimum tax. and it continues to grow to 15% of the total tax liability by the year 2050. so this chart points out the increasing power of congress through taking more money from the

Chuck Grassley

9:32:47 to 9:33:03( Edit History Discussion )

Chuck Grassley: taxpayers without even changing law if we don't do something about this alternative minimum tax. anyone who maintains that the alternative minimum tax reform or repeal needs to be offset is not actually

Chuck Grassley

9:33:03 to 9:33:20( Edit History Discussion )

Chuck Grassley: doing anything about the problem that these charts illusate. the problems the alternative minimum tax is responsible for are the ballooning federal revenues above historical levels and a burden

Chuck Grassley

9:33:20 to 9:33:39( Edit History Discussion )

Chuck Grassley: on middle-class taxpayers thateeps increasing over time, off setting the alternative minimum tax revenue does absolutely nothing to address these issues and seems to me to be an attempt to pretend to solve

Chuck Grassley

9:33:39 to 9:33:53( Edit History Discussion )

Chuck Grassley: a real problem by actually trying to hide that problem. aside from the long-term problems with the alternative minimum tax, we can solve by repealing it, the alternative minimum tax poses a short-term

Chuck Grassley

9:33:53 to 9:34:11( Edit History Discussion )

Chuck Grassley: problem to the taxpayers who will fall into its clutches this year if congress does not act, putting aside the legitimacy of keeping this tax is not doing what it was intended to do, putting aside

Chuck Grassley

9:34:11 to 9:34:26( Edit History Discussion )

Chuck Grassley: the long-term solution, we're going to end up right now with 19 million more families and individuals being caught by the.m.t. this year. that 19 million probably include many taxpayers making estimated

Chuck Grassley

9:34:26 to 9:34:35( Edit History Discussion )

Chuck Grassley: tax payments. some of these families and individuals may not be taking the a.m.t. into account as they make their quarterly payment simply because they do not realize they ought to take this into

Chuck Grassley

9:34:35 to 9:34:50( Edit History Discussion )

Chuck Grassley: consideration. additionally, there may be some taxpayers who are required to make estimated tax payments when subject to the alternative minimum tax but are not required to make the estimated payments

Chuck Grassley

9:34:50 to 9:35:02( Edit History Discussion )

Chuck Grassley: under the regular income tax system. at the end of this tax year not only could those well-meaning filers find themselves subject to the alternative minimum tax, but they could also face the increased

Chuck Grassley

9:35:02 to 9:35:18( Edit History Discussion )

Chuck Grassley: insult of being fined by the i.r.s. for unintentionally miscalculating their estimated tax payment. i do not believe that these well-intentioned taxpayers ought to be penalized because congress has not come through

Chuck Grassley

9:35:18 to 9:35:36( Edit History Discussion )

Chuck Grassley: on its promise to at least keep the a.m.t. from running wild -- in other words, going beyond those 4.5 million taxpayers that are already hit by it and not including, not including the 19 million

Chuck Grassley

9:35:36 to 9:35:50( Edit History Discussion )

Chuck Grassley: that are otherwise being hit because of inaction so far. that is why on june -- july 23 i dealt with this penalty issue by introducing senate bill 1855 called the a.m.t. penalty protection act. this

Chuck Grassley

9:35:50 to 9:36:04( Edit History Discussion )

Chuck Grassley: legislation protects individuals from the penalty for failing to pay estimated taxes on amounts attributable to the a.m.t. in case where the taxpayers were not subject to the a.m.t. last year. this

Chuck Grassley

9:36:04 to 9:36:17( Edit History Discussion )

Chuck Grassley: isn't a giveaway meant to compensate for the a.m.t. as it does not protect taxpayers who paid a.m.t. last year. rather, this bill protects the families and individuals who do not yet appreciate the horrible

Chuck Grassley

9:36:17 to 9:36:31( Edit History Discussion )

Chuck Grassley: impact that our failure to act is going to have on them. i'm not the only one who thinks that this legislation's a good idea because we've had these senators -- allard, brownback, collins, hutchison,

Chuck Grassley

9:36:31 to 9:36:46( Edit History Discussion )

Chuck Grassley: smith, and snowe -- agreeing to cosponsor. in addition, i've received letters from the committee on personal income taxation by the new york city bar as well as the national association of enrolled agents

Chuck Grassley

9:36:46 to 9:37:02( Edit History Discussion )

Chuck Grassley: in support of the provisions of this safe harbor bill so that i.r.s. cannot apply interest and penalties resulting from the failure to pay estimated taxes on amounts resulting from the a.m.t. in cases

Chuck Grassley

9:37:02 to 9:37:14( Edit History Discussion )

Chuck Grassley: of where the taxpayers were not liable last year. not liable for the a.m.t. last year. i ask unanimous consent that these letters -- and i don't have these letters. i ask unanimous consent that

Chuck Grassley

9:37:14 to 9:37:28( Edit History Discussion )

Chuck Grassley: these letters i just referred to be printed in the record. i would like to believe that this legislation's not necessary because we're going to prevent the a.m.t. from swallowing 19 million more taxpayers

Chuck Grassley

9:37:28 to 9:37:40( Edit History Discussion )

Chuck Grassley: in the year 2007. but i'm not especially optimistic considering the fact that we have not acted yet. in closing, i would just like to encourage -- and it's meant to encourage the democratic leadership

Chuck Grassley

9:37:40 to 9:37:52( Edit History Discussion )

Chuck Grassley: to keep our promise with the american taxpayers and at least modify the exemption amounts for 2007. of course the best option is to completely repeal the a.m.t. and i'm going to raise these issues

Chuck Grassley

9:37:52 to 9:38:03( Edit History Discussion )

Chuck Grassley: with the finance incommittee members. m i'm going to raise the issue with members outside the committee. we ought to just get rid of this. it's stupid to be saying we're going to tax -- that we're

Chuck Grassley

9:38:03 to 9:38:17( Edit History Discussion )

Chuck Grassley: going to collect revenue from people that were never intended to pay it. but we're counting that revenue. you know, it's a big shell game. and so i'm going to be talking to my colleagues about the

Chuck Grassley

9:38:17 to 9:38:32( Edit History Discussion )

Chuck Grassley: sensibility of just getting rid of something. i'll tell you another reason for getting rid of the a.m.t. it's supposed to reut the super rich. we're told by the i.r.s. right now that there are thr 's

Chuck Grassley

9:38:32 to 9:38:47( Edit History Discussion )

Chuck Grassley: about 2,500 of the super -- there's about 2,500 of the super rich that we expect to pay the alternative minimum tax but they have found ways legally of avoiding the alternative minimum tax. so we

Chuck Grassley

9:38:47 to 9:39:08( Edit History Discussion )

Chuck Grassley: ought to just get rid of it. so for the time being, the only thing taxpayers can rely on is the same goose egg that we have been sitting on all year. i ask unanimous consent that those statements, or those

Chuck Grassley

9:39:08 to 9:39:20( Edit History Discussion )

Chuck Grassley: letters be put in the record, mr. chairman. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. grassley: mr. president. i would also, mr. president, like to use my time to address another issue. i think

Chuck Grassley

9:39:20 to 9:39:34( Edit History Discussion )

Chuck Grassley: i'd like to continue. i ask unanimous consent -- the presiding officer: the senator is recognized. mr. grassley: mr. president, the ethics bill has now been signed into law, and as my colleagues are aware,

Chuck Grassley

9:39:34 to 9:39:47( Edit History Discussion )

Chuck Grassley: it contains new requirements about what we in the senate call holds, meaning an individual senator can hold up a bill all by himself from coming up. senators may be wondering what exactly is required

Chuck Grassley

9:39:47 to 9:40:00( Edit History Discussion )

Chuck Grassley: under these new requirements about holds and how it will work -- how it's going to work. well, as a coauthor of the original measure, i have to tell you that i don't know how it's going to work. the

Chuck Grassley

9:40:00 to 9:40:12( Edit History Discussion )

Chuck Grassley: provisions have been rewritten from what we had originally adopted on the floor of the senate by a very wide margin. i'm not even sure by whom this has been rewritten because it was a close process and

Chuck Grassley

9:40:12 to 9:40:28( Edit History Discussion )

Chuck Grassley: republicans were not invited to participate in that process. now i'm trying to understand how these provisions will work. let me give you a little background. i've been working for some time along

Chuck Grassley

9:40:28 to 9:40:44( Edit History Discussion )

Chuck Grassley: with senator wyden of oregon to end the practice of secret holds through a rules change or through what we call in the senate a standing order. i don't believe that there is any legitimate reason why a

Chuck Grassley

9:40:44 to 9:40:54( Edit History Discussion )

Chuck Grassley: single senator should be able to anonomously -- i want to emphasize "anonomously" -- block a bill or nomination. i don't argue with an individual senator blocking a bill. i do that myself. but i don't

Chuck Grassley

9:40:54 to 9:41:09( Edit History Discussion )

Chuck Grassley: think it should be secret. i think we ought to know who's doing it because the public's business and the senate is all about the public's business -- we're on television -- the public's business

Chuck Grassley

9:41:09 to 9:41:22( Edit History Discussion )

Chuck Grassley: ought to be public, and we ought to know who that person is. if a senator has the guts to place a hold, they ought to have the guts to say who they are and why they think that bill ought to be held

Chuck Grassley

9:41:22 to 9:41:37( Edit History Discussion )

Chuck Grassley: up. if there is a legitimate reason for a hold, then senators should have no fear about it being public. i'm not talking hypothetically here. i'm speaking for my own experience. i have voluntarily practiced

Chuck Grassley

9:41:37 to 9:41:48( Edit History Discussion )

Chuck Grassley: public holds for a decade or more, and i have had absolutely no cause to regre telling all my colleagues, the whole country why i'm holding up a bill and who chuck grassley is, so you can come

Chuck Grassley

9:41:48 to 9:42:04( Edit History Discussion )

Chuck Grassley: and talk to me if you want to talk to me about it. know what the rationale is. maybe we'll want to work something out. through the years there have been several times when the leaders of the two

Chuck Grassley

9:42:04 to 9:42:18( Edit History Discussion )

Chuck Grassley: parties have agreed to work with senator wyden and me to address this issue, albeit in a way different than what maybe we would have proposed. i have a -- aptproefpd these opportunities with -- approached

Chuck Grassley

9:42:18 to 9:42:33( Edit History Discussion )

Chuck Grassley: these opportunities with optimism only later on to be disappointed. for instance, in 1999 majority leader lott and minority leader daschle sent a "dear colleague" letter to all senators outlining a new policy

Chuck Grassley

9:42:33 to 9:42:48( Edit History Discussion )

Chuck Grassley: that any senators placing a hold must notify the sponsor of the legislation and the committee of jurisdiction. it went on to state that written notification of the holds should be provided to respective

Chuck Grassley

9:42:48 to 9:43:02( Edit History Discussion )

Chuck Grassley: leaders and staff holds -- in other words, staff for the senator placing holds would not be honored unless accompanied by a written notification. this policy -- well, i mean all that sounds good if

Chuck Grassley

9:43:02 to 9:43:18( Edit History Discussion )

Chuck Grassley: it worked out that way. but i want to tell you, this policy announced in 1999 was quickly forgotten or ignored by senators, and the people that could enforce it actually enforce it. then recognizing that

Chuck Grassley

9:43:18 to 9:43:31( Edit History Discussion )

Chuck Grassley: the previous "dear colleague" letter was not effective, leaders frist and daschle sent another "dear colleague" letter in 2003 that purported to have some sort of enforcement mechanism. the new policy

Chuck Grassley

9:43:31 to 9:43:43( Edit History Discussion )

Chuck Grassley: required notifications of the legislation's sponsor if, and only if, a member of their party as well as notification of the senior party member on the committee of jurisdiction. in other words, this

Chuck Grassley

9:43:43 to 9:43:58( Edit History Discussion )

Chuck Grassley: new policy required less disclosure than the previous policy, since it only affected holds by members of the same party. nonetheless, the leaders promised that if the disclosure was not made, they would

Chuck Grassley

9:43:58 to 9:44:13( Edit History Discussion )

Chuck Grassley: disclose the hold. it also reiterated that staff holds would not be honored unless accompanied by written notificati. that policy had more holes in it than swiss cheese. i'm not sure anyone understood

Chuck Grassley

9:44:13 to 9:44:27( Edit History Discussion )

Chuck Grassley: the policy, and it had no effect that i can tell on improving transparency in a public body, the united states senate, where we're on television andis the public's business, all of the public's business ought

Chuck Grassley

9:44:27 to 9:44:46( Edit History Discussion )

Chuck Grassley: to be public. no longer willing to selgts for half -- settle for half-measures like we had been dealt in 1999 and 2003 that don't end secret holds once and for all, the last congress, senator wyden

Chuck Grassley

9:44:46 to 9:44:59( Edit History Discussion )

Chuck Grassley: and i then took our own initiative, not waiting for leaders to act, and we offered our standing order to require full public disclosure of all holds as an amendment to the lobbying reform bill.~ it was

Chuck Grassley

9:44:59 to 9:45:14( Edit History Discussion )

Chuck Grassley: a well thought out measure that was drafted with the help of people who know about how this place operates, senator lott and senator byrd. remember, senator byrd's been around here for a half a century.

Chuck Grassley

9:45:14 to 9:45:31( Edit History Discussion )

Chuck Grassley: we use their insights, we use their knowledge of senate procedure as former majority leaders to write our legislation. our standing order passed the senate by a vote of 84-13. now, think of it. this

Chuck Grassley

9:45:31 to 9:45:44( Edit History Discussion )

Chuck Grassley: senate making a decision that holds should not be secret anymore by a vote of 84-13. and now listen what happened after that 84-13. while that bill did not become law, it became a starting point for

Chuck Grassley

9:45:44 to 9:45:58( Edit History Discussion )

Chuck Grassley: the ethics bill passed by the senate last year. i thought that the leaders had finally accepted that we would have full disclosure of holds. in fact, our secret holds provisions remained intact in

Chuck Grassley

9:45:58 to 9:46:13( Edit History Discussion )

Chuck Grassley: the version of the ethics bill that originally passed the senate earlier this year. then even though the secret holds provisions related only to the senate, nothing to do with the other body, the

Chuck Grassley

9:46:13 to 9:46:29( Edit History Discussion )

Chuck Grassley: house of representatives, and had already been passed by the house on a voiceote this time but reflecting the reality of the 84-13 vote before, they were rewritten behind closed doors by members

Chuck Grassley

9:46:29 to 9:46:43( Edit History Discussion )

Chuck Grassley: of the majority party. once again, i feel like half measures have been substituted for real reform. under the rewritt provisions, in other words, the provisions that had passed one time 84-13 only

Chuck Grassley

9:46:43 to 9:47:02( Edit History Discussion )

Chuck Grassley: affecting us, went to conference where they didn't have to go to conference because it only affected us and didn't affect the other body. we end up with no real reform. under the rewritten provisions,

Chuck Grassley

9:47:02 to 9:47:18( Edit History Discussion )

Chuck Grassley: a senator will only have to disclose a hold -- quote -- "following the objections to a unanimous consent to proceeding to and/or passage of a measure or matter on their behalf." now, that's going to puzzle

Chuck Grassley

9:47:18 to 9:47:34( Edit History Discussion )

Chuck Grassley: you just like it puzzles me. obviously in this case, the hold would already have existed well before any objection. in fact, most holds never even get to this stage because the threat, the mere threat

Chuck Grassley

9:47:34 to 9:47:45( Edit History Discussion )

Chuck Grassley: of a hold prevents unanimous consent requests from being made in the first place. this is particularly true if the senator placing a hold is a member of the majority party n. that case, the majority

Chuck Grassley

9:47:45 to 9:47:58( Edit History Discussion )

Chuck Grassley: leader would -- majority party n. that case, the majority leader would simply not ask unanimous consent knowing a member of his party has a head on. for instance, it is not clear to me what would happen

Chuck Grassley

9:47:58 to 9:48:11( Edit History Discussion )

Chuck Grassley: if the minority leader asked unanimous consent to provide to a bill and the majority leader objected on his own behalf to protect his prerogative to set the agenda. but also having the effect of honoring

Chuck Grassley

9:48:11 to 9:48:29( Edit History Discussion )

Chuck Grassley: the hold of another member of the majority party's -- of the majority leader's caucus. or what if the majority leader asked unanimous consent to proceed to a bill and the minority leader objects but

Chuck Grassley

9:48:29 to 9:48:41( Edit History Discussion )

Chuck Grassley: does not specify on whose behalf even though a member of the minority party has a hold? would the minority senator with the withhold then be required to disclose a hold? i don't know. it's not very clear.

Chuck Grassley

9:48:41 to 9:48:54( Edit History Discussion )

Chuck Grassley: i asked the office of parliamentarian for an opinion about how the new provision would work in such instances. but with no legislative history -- because this was written behind closed doors, there's

Chuck Grassley

9:48:54 to 9:49:09( Edit History Discussion )

Chuck Grassley: no report to come out -- with no legislative history for the changes that were made to the wyden-grassley measure, the intent of the rewritten provisions was not evident is what the parliamentarian

Chuck Grassley

9:49:09 to 9:49:22( Edit History Discussion )

Chuck Grassley: said. therefore, what did i do? i wrote to the senate rules committee to provide insight into the content of the rewritten provisions. the response referred me to a section-by-section analysis of the

Chuck Grassley

9:49:22 to 9:49:34( Edit History Discussion )

Chuck Grassley: bill in the "congressional record" that essentially restates the provisions but once again sheds no light on the specific questions about how this works. perhaps that's because the answer might be

Chuck Grassley

9:49:34 to 9:49:50( Edit History Discussion )

Chuck Grassley: a little embarrassing. depending upon how the new provisions are interpreted in the first instance i mentioned it is possible that holds by members of the majority party willever be made public.

Chuck Grassley

9:49:50 to 9:50:05( Edit History Discussion )

Chuck Grassley: and in the second instance, a literal interpretation of the provision might indicate that either leader could choose to keep a hold by a member of their party secret so long as they do not specify publicly

Chuck Grassley

9:50:05 to 9:50:19( Edit History Discussion )

Chuck Grassley: that their objection is on behalf of another senator. the rules committee letter claims that the changes were intended to make the provision workable. and it seems to me it's quite obvious. unless

Chuck Grassley

9:50:19 to 9:50:34( Edit History Discussion )

Chuck Grassley: somebody can answer these questions, i've asked the parliamentarian, i asked the rules committee, no answers yet. i don't see how the new provisions are any more workable than the original. on the contrary,

Chuck Grassley

9:50:34 to 9:50:46( Edit History Discussion )

Chuck Grassley: they're not only unworkable, they undermine transparency. they make it more difficult for this body that's on television every day that everything we do here ought -- is the public's business, we want

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