Schumer Floor Remarks on the Immigration Debate and TaxesFebruary 14, 2018
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer today spoke on the Senate floor regarding the immigration debate and taxes. Below are his remarks which can also be viewedHere:
The Majority Leader’s desire to vote on an unrelated, partisan immigration bill – legislation that is not only silent on Dreamers, but is silent on border security as well – is not a productive way to begin debate.
Let’s get to the crux of the issue. Let Republicans offer whatever they want on DACA and border security and we’ll do the same. The Leader supports the proposal by Senator Grassley that’s essentially the president’s plan. Let’s vote on that first. We will have several bipartisan bills to offer. We should vote on those too.
Democrats are focused like a laser on finding a bipartisan bill that can pass the Senate to protect the Dreamers. Several moderate Republicans are working towards that as well. The one person who seems most intent on NOT getting a deal is President Trump.
President Trump’s contribution to this debate has been to put forward a proposal that contains a vast curtailment of legal immigration, far outside the scope of DACA for border security, and demanded that Democrats support it. Instead of making a proposal in good faith or working with Democrats on a compromise, President Trump is trying to force his unpopular, hardline immigration agenda down the throats of the American people by calling it a DACA bill. The president’s proposal, now the Grassley bill, is so extreme on legal immigration that several Republicans have been critical of it, including my Republican friends from South Carolina and Arizona.
And yet, President Trump somehow thinks that Democrats will be blamed for not getting a deal on DACA because we didn’t go blindly along with his partisan plan – extreme as it is, with no input from Democrats. That will not happen.
Only in a Kafkaesque, 1984-world could the Democrats be blamed for the current predicament on DACA. As much as the president wants the world to be upside down; as much as he wants everyone to just accept what he’s saying, the American people know better. Everyone here knows that President Trump has stood in the way of a bipartisan solution to DACA from the very beginning.
Let’s take a quick look at the history. First, President Trump terminated the DACA program last August. Not Democrats or not Republicans here. Unilaterally we are in this pickle, in this worse than pickle, in this bad situation, because President Trump chose to end the DACA program last August. That stands out above anything else. Then, President Trump turned his back on not one but two bipartisan immigration proposals. I went so far as to put the wall, the president’s signature campaign issue, on the table for discussion and still, that did not drive him to a deal. And finally, now that we’re working hard in the Senate to come up with a bipartisan proposal, President Trump is just trying to gum up the works. According to reports, President Trump may threaten to veto legislation that doesn’t match his hardline demands. My way or no way, with no Democratic input. A statement this morning from the White House said the president would oppose even a short-term bill to protect the Dreamers.
So who is intent on kicking these people - who know no country other than America, who work in our factories and offices, who go to our schools, who serve in our military - who is intent on kicking them out? Not the American people; 90% support the Dreamers. Not any Democrat. And not a good number of Republicans on this side of the aisle. Just the president. On three separate occasions, President Trump has stood in the way of a bipartisan solution to DACA – a problem he created in the first place.
And yet, the president is in this dream world, he thinks Democrats will be blamed for the impasse. As I said, only in 1984-world -- where up is down and black is white -- could this be true. Only in the 1984-world -- where up is down and black is white -- would the American public blame Democrats for this. They know where Trump stands. They know it. The American people know what’s going on. They know this president not only created the problem, but seems to be against every solution that might pass because it isn’t 100% of what he wants. If, at the end of the week, we are unable to find a bill that can pass – and I sincerely hope that’s not the case due to the good efforts of so many people on both sides of the aisle -- the responsibility will fall entirely on the president’s shoulders and those in this body who went along with him.
Bipartisan negotiations are ongoing, and perhaps very close to a conclusion. Nothing is ever certain given the contentious nature of this debate. But I am hopeful that Senators can put the president’s hardline demands to the side and come up with a deal that works for both parties. If we want to go beyond border security and the DACA kids, let’s do comprehensive reform. We did it once, it worked pretty well in the Senate. The House blocked it, but let’s go back to it. But first, the issue at hand: the DACA kids and border security. That’s the only thing that can pass this chamber. The only thing.
We need to push through to the finish line. There are only two days of debate remaining this week. Everyone has to make a final effort to reach consensus – that doesn’t mean adding new demands or drawing lines in the sand, it means being willing to compromise and take yes for a final answer. It might not be everything the Republicans want or everything the Democrats want, but it may just get the job done for the Dreamers and the overwhelming majority of Americans who’d like to see them stay in the country.
On another matter – taxes.
The Republicans argued that their massive corporate tax cut wasn’t such a huge giveaway to corporate America. They predicted that corporations would spend the tax savings on benefits for workers. The evidence is already mounting that those predictions were wrong.
Since the beginning of the Republican tax bill, corporations have been pouring billions of dollars into stock repurchasing programs, not significant wage increases or other meaningful investments in workers.
It’s now, these stock buybacks, stock repurchasing -- which benefit primarily the people at the top -- have reached a significant milestone – since the passage of the Republican tax bill, there have been over $100 billion in stock buybacks. And as of last week, corporations had announced twice the amount of corporate share buybacks as during a similar period last year. Let me repeat that: the amount of share buybacks has doubled since the Republican tax bill passed.
Why is that so significant? Because share buybacks don’t help the average worker. They inflate the value of a company’s stock, which primarily benefits shareholders, not workers. It benefits corporate executives who are compensated with corporate stock, not workers who are paid by wages and benefits. And the money corporations spend on purchasing their stock is money that isn’t being reinvested in worker training, equipment, research, new hires, or higher salaries.
According to analysts at Morgan Stanley, companies surveyed said that they will pass only 13% of the Trump tax cut savings on to workers, in comparison to 43% that they’ll spend on share buybacks. For manufacturers it is even worse. They expect 9% to go to workers, 47% to share buybacks.
Republicans made a conscious decision to give corporations and the wealthiest Americans the lion’s share of the tax cuts and promised that it would trickle down to everyone else. Unfortunately, trickle-down never works, and that’s not what is happening now. Corporate America is doing what’s best for corporate America, and working America is getting left behind.
It goes to show you just who President Trump and Republicans were working for when they crafted their tax bill -- they gave corporations and the wealthiest Americans a huge tax cut but cut out everyone else.