Michael Bennet on Budget & Economy
Democratic Presidential Challenger; CO Senator
BENNET: Absolutely not. In fact, what I was saying is true, because we have $13 trillion of debt on the balance sheet and nothing to show for it. We have not even had the decency to maintain the assets that our parents and grandparents built for us: our roads, our bridges, our wastewater systems, our sewer systems; by the way, those weren't Bolsheviks, those weren't socialists that built those things for us--much less build the infrastructure we need for the 21st century.
Q: But the president acknowledges that infrastructure spending has not been really dealt with in this stimulus bill.
BENNET: Transportation, transit and energy infrastructure as well. That stimulus package saved us from going into the second Great Depression. But that's hardly enough.
Bennet said the stimulus bill hasn't been more effective because the U.S. recession was even worse than initially believed. "But 37% of that legislation was in tax cuts," he argued, a claim that Buck's supporters scoffed at.
A: Washington has failed to make tough decisions on our budget for too long, and our $13 trillion debt is now a crisis. The experiences that I bring to the table--turning around bankrupt companies, working to balance a budget deficit--can help me make a difference. I have been leading the movement in Congress to address our fiscal mess, including:
We still have more work to do. Both the House and Senate are now required to find a way to pay for most new spending programs or tax cuts. I believe that these rules could be stronger so that Congress, just like every Colorado family, is required to figure out how to pay for what it spends.
Transparency must be improved by every Member of Congress and throughout the system as a whole.
Proponent's argument to vote Yes:Rep. LEWIS (D, GA-5): This bipartisan bill will provide the necessary funds to keep important transportation projects operating in States around the country. The Highway Trust Fund will run out of funding by September. We must act, and we must act now.
Opponent's argument to vote No:Rep. CAMP (R, MI-4): [This interim spending is] needed because the Democrats' economic policy has resulted in record job loss, record deficits, and none of the job creation they promised. Democrats predicted unemployment would top out at 8% if the stimulus passed; instead, it's 9.5% and rising. In Michigan, it's above 15%. The Nation's public debt and unemployment, combined, has risen by a shocking 40% [because of] literally trillions of dollars in additional spending under the Democrats' stimulus, energy, and health plans.
We had a choice when it came to the stimulus last February. We could have chosen a better policy of stimulating private-sector growth creating twice the jobs at half the price. That was the Republican plan. Instead, Democrats insisted on their government focus plan, which has produced no jobs and a mountain of debt.
Proponent's argument to vote Yes:Rep. PETER WELCH (D, VT-0): Citigroup supports this bill. Why? They're a huge lender. They understand that we have to stabilize home values in order to begin the recovery, and they need a tool to accomplish it. Mortgages that have been sliced and diced into 50 different sections make it impossible even for a mortgage company and a borrower to come together to resolve the problem that they share together.
Sen. DICK DURBIN (D, IL): 8.1 million homes face foreclosure in America today. Last year, I offered this amendment to change the bankruptcy law, and the banking community said: Totally unnecessary. In fact, the estimates were of only 2 million homes in foreclosure last year. America is facing a crisis.
Opponent's argument to vote No:
Sen. JON KYL (R, AZ): This amendment would allow bankruptcy judges to modify home mortgages by lowering the principal and interest rate on the loan or extending the term of the loan. The concept in the trade is known as cram-down. It would apply to all borrowers who are 60 days or more delinquent. Many experts believe the cram-down provision would result in higher interest rates for all home mortgages. We could end up exacerbating this situation for all the people who would want to refinance or to take out loans in the future.
Rep. MICHELE BACHMANN (R, MN-6): Of the foundational policies of American exceptionalism, the concepts that have inspired our great Nation are the sanctity of private contracts and upholding the rule of law. This cramdown bill crassly undercuts both of these pillars of American exceptionalism. Why would a lender make a 30-year loan if they fear the powers of the Federal Government will violate the very terms of that loan?
Proponent's argument to vote Yes:Rep. DAVID OBEY (D, WI-7): This country is facing what most economists consider to be the most serious and the most dangerous economic situation in our lifetimes. This package today is an $825 billion package that does a variety of things to try to reinflate the economy:
Opponent's argument to vote No:
Rep. JERRY LEWIS (R, CA-51): Most of us would agree that the recent $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) is an illustration of how good intentions don't always deliver desired results. When Congress spends too much too quickly, it doesn't think through the details and oversight becomes more difficult. The lesson learned from TARP was this: we cannot manage what we do not measure. We cannot afford to make the same mistake again.
Sen. THAD COCHRAN (R, MS): We are giving the executive branch immense latitude in the disbursement of the spending this bill contains. We are doing so without any documentation of how this spending will stimulate the economy. Normally, this kind of information would be contained in an administration budget. For items that have a short-term stimulative effect, most of us will feel comfortable debating their merits as an emergency measure. But there is a great deal of spending that is not immediately stimulative.
NPR summary of HR133:
Argument in opposition: Rep. Alex Mooney (R-WV-2) said after voting against H.R. 133: "Congress voted to spend another $2.3 trillion [$900 billion for COVID relief], which will grow our national debt to about $29 trillion. The federal government will again have to borrow money from nations like China. This massive debt is being passed on to our children and grandchildren. With multiple vaccines on the way thanks to President Trump and Operation Warp Speed, we do not need to pile on so much additional debt. Now is the time to safely reopen our schools and our economy. HR133 was another 5593-page bill put together behind closed doors and released moments prior to the vote."
Legislative outcome: Passed House 327-85-18, Roll #250, on Dec. 21. 2020; Passed Senate 92-6-2, Roll #289, on Dec. 21; signed by President Trump on Dec 27 [after asking for an increase from $600 to $2,000 per person, which was introduced as a separate vote].
This bill provides additional relief to address the continued impact of COVID-19 on the economy, public health, state and local governments, individuals, and businesses:
Rep. Kevin McCarthy in OPPOSITION (3/11/21): The so-called American Rescue Plan imposed a $1.9 trillion new burden on American families. Despite being branded as 'COVID relief,' only 9% of funds in this bill actually goes to defeating the virus, and almost half of the money, including more than 95% of the education funds, will not be spent until 2022 or later. After a year of struggle and sacrifice, students and parents get no answer to the vital question of when they can expect schools to reopen full time. President Biden wants Americans to believe 'help is on the way.' But under this bill, it isn't; waste is.
Biden Administration in SUPPORT (2/26/21): ARPA provides the tools and support critical to tackle the urgent public health and economic crises the Nation faces as a result of COVID-19. The bill also provides eligible Americans with a $1,400 payment in addition to the $600 payment provided in December of 2020. The bill also extends key emergency unemployment benefits, and raises the minimum wage to $15 per hour.
Legislative Outcome: Passed House 219-212-1 on 2/27/21; passed Senate 50-49-1 on 3/6/21; signed by President on 3/11/21.
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AK: Incumbent Lisa Murkowski(R)
vs.Challenger Kelly Tshibaka(R)
vs.2020 candidate Al Gross(D)
vs.State Sen. Elvi Gray-Jackson(D)
AL: Incumbent Richard Shelby(R) vs.U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks(R) vs.Ambassador Lynda Blanchard(R) vs.Katie Britt(R) vs.Judge Jessica Taylor(R) vs.Brandaun Dean(D) vs.Mike Durant(R) vs.
AR: Incumbent John Boozman(R)
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AZ: Incumbent Mark Kelly(D)
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vs.A.G. Mark Brnovich(R) vs.Mick McGuire(R)
vs.State Rep. Justin Olson(R)
CA: Incumbent Alex Padilla(D)
vs.2018 Senate candidate James Bradley(R)
vs.State Rep. Jerome Horton(D)
CO: Incumbent Michael Bennet(D)
vs.State Rep. Ron Hanks(R)
CT: Incumbent Richard Blumenthal(D)
vs.Challenger Joe Visconti(R)
vs.2018 & 2020 House candidate John Flynn(R)
vs.State Rep. Themis Klarides(R)
FL: Incumbent Marco Rubio(R)
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GA: Incumbent Raphael Warnock(D)
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HI: Incumbent Brian Schatz(D)
IA: Incumbent Chuck Grassley(R)
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ID: Incumbent Mike Crapo(R)
IL: Incumbent Tammy Duckworth(D)
IN: Incumbent Todd Young(R)
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vs.Psychologist Valerie McCray(D)
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KY: Incumbent Rand Paul(R)
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LA: Incumbent John Kennedy(R)
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vs.Trudy Busch Valentine(D)
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