Schumer Floor Remarks on Budget Negotiations, President Trump’s Tax Plan and the President’s Broken Promises on Health Care

April 26, 2017

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer delivered remarks on current spending bill negotiations, the upcoming release of President Trump’s tax plan and the president’s broken promises on the economy and health care. Below are his remarks:

Mr. President, as Senators continue to negotiate the appropriations bill this week, I want to reiterate my hopes we can reach an agreement by this Friday.

So long as we try to operate within the parameters our parties have operated under for the last few spending bills, I’m optimistic about the chances for a deal.

I’m glad that the president has taken the wall off the table in the negotiations. Democrats have always been for border security. In fact, we supported one of the toughest border security packages in Comprehensive Immigration Reform in an amendment introduced by two of my Republican colleagues, Senator Hoeven and Senator Corker. We may address border security in this bill as well, but it will not include any funding for a wall, plain and simple.

Now, we still have a few issues to work out, including the issue of cost sharing, Puerto Rico, and getting permanent health care for miners -- which I was glad to hear the Majority Leader voice support for yesterday. Permanent health care for miners. And I want to salute Senator Manchin who has worked hard for the miners. The miners shouldn’t have their health benefits taken away from them.

But above all in the bill, we have to make sure there are no poison pill riders.

I hope both sides of the aisle will pursue that now. We Democrats remain committed to fighting President Trump’s cutbacks on women’s health, rollback of financial protections in Wall Street reform, rollbacks of protections for clean air and clear water, against a deportation force. So those are the kind of poison pill riders that could hurt an agreement, and I hope we’ll just decide at the given time – we can debate them in regular order, but they shouldn’t hold the government hostage and pass them without debate

Now on taxes, Mr. President, today we'll also be hearing some details (we don't know how many) about the president's tax plan.

We'll take a look at what they're proposing, but I can tell you this, if the president’s plan is to give a massive tax break to the very wealthy in this country -- a plan that will mostly benefit people and businesses like President Trump's -- that won't pass muster with we Democrats.

The very wealthy are doing pretty well in America. Their incomes keep going up, their wealth keeps going up. God bless them. Let them do well. But they don't need another huge tax break while middle-class Americans and those struggling to get there need help just staying afloat.

It is already the case that CEOs and other folks at the top of the corporate ladder can use deductions and loopholes to pay less in taxes than their secretaries.

We don't need a plan that establishes that same principle in the basic rates -- by allowing wealthy businessmen (like President Trump) to use pass-through entities to pay 15% in taxes while everyone else pays in the 20s and 30s.

We don’t need a tax plan that allows the very rich to use pass-throughs to reduce their rates to 15% while average Americans are paying much more.

That’s not tax reform, that’s just a tax giveaway to the very, very wealthy that will explode the deficit.

So we'll take a look at what they propose later today. If it's just another deficit-busting tax break for the rich, I predict their proposal will land with a dud with the American people.

On another matter: later today the Senate will be receiving a briefing by the Administration on the situation in North Korea.

I look forward to the opportunity to hear from the Secretary of State, who I understand drafted the Administration’s plan, and other senior Administration officials about their views on North Korea and the posture of the United States in that region.

I think what many of my colleagues hope to hear articulated is a coherent, well-thought-out, strategic plan.

  • So far, the Congress and the American public have heard very little in the way of strategy with respect to North Korea.
  • We’ve heard very little about a strategy to combat ISIS.
  • We’ve heard very little about a strategy to on how to deal with Putin’s Russia.

We’ve heard very little about our strategy in Syria. Only a few weeks ago, the president authorized a strike within Syria. Is there a broader strategy? Does the Administration support regime change or not? Do they plan further US involvement?

These are difficult and important questions. And there are many more of them to be asked and answered about this Administration’s nascent national security policy for hotspots around the globe.

I hope that later today, at least in relation to North Korea, we Senators are given a serious, well-considered outline of the Administration’s strategic goals in the Korean peninsula and their plans to achieve them.

Now, as we approach the 100-day mark of the Trump presidency, we Democrats have been highlighting the litany of broken or unfulfilled promises that President Trump made to working families.

It’s our job as the minority party to hold the president accountable to the promises he made to voters – particularly the ones made to working families that are struggling out there. Many of these folks voted for the president because they believed him when he promised to bring back their jobs, or get tough on trade, or drain the swamp. 

So it’s important to point out where the president has gone back on his word and where he’s fallen short in these first 100 days.

On the crucial issues of jobs and the economy, this president has made little progress in 100 days. His party hasn’t introduced a major job-creating piece of legislation to date and he’s actually backtracked on his promises to get tough on trade and outsourcing, two things that cost our country millions of jobs. I was particularly upset to see the President consider repealing President Obama’s rule that prevented corporate inversions, that allowed big corporations to locate overseas to lower their tax rates.

Instead of the draining the swamp and making the government more accountable to the people, President Trump’s filled his government with billionaires and bankers and folks laden with conflicts of interest.

And amazingly enough, the government has allowed lobbyists to come work at the White House on the very same issues they were just lobbying on and those waivers were kept secret.

These reversals aren’t the normal adjustments that a president makes when transitioning from a campaign to the reality of governing…these are stunning about-faces on core promises the president made to working Americans.

What I’d like to focus on now, on one issue, the President’s promises on healthcare.

On the campaign trail, President Trump vowed to the American people that he would repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act with better healthcare that lowered costs, provided more generous coverage, and guaranteed insurance for everyone, with no changes to Medicare whatsoever. That’s what he said. We’re not saying he said that. Those are his words: I’m going to cover everybody.

He said, “We’re going to have insurance for everybody…much less expensive and much better.” … “We’re going to have insurance for everybody.”

But once in office, President Trump broke each and every one of these promises with the rollout of his healthcare bill, Trumpcare.

  • Did Trumpcare lower costs, as he promised? Nope, the CBO said premiums would go up by as much as 20 percent in the first few years under Trumpcare. His bill allowed insurance companies to charge older Americans a whopping five times the amount they could charge younger folks, and it was estimated a senior citizen could pay as much as 15,000 more depending on their income and where they lived.
  • Did his bill provide for better coverage? No, in fact, the most recent version of the Trumpcare bill would let states decide whether or not to protect folks who have pre-existing conditions. This was one of the most popular things in Obamacare, even if people didn’t like some other parts of it. If you’re a parent, your child has cancer, the insurance company said, we’re cutting you off and you’d have to watch your child suffer because you couldn’t afford health care…the Affordable Care Act, ended that. They couldn’t cut you off or not give you insurance because your child or you had a serious illness that would cost the insurance company a lot of money. But now in the proposal they’re making, it is up to the states. Tough luck if you live in a state without it.
  • Did his bill guarantee “insurance for everyone?” That’s what he said. No, far from it. The Congressional Budget Office said that Trumpcare would result in 24 million fewer Americans with health coverage after 10 years.
  • And despite an explicit pledge from Candidate Trump on the eve of the election that he would protect Medicare – because hardworking Americans “made a deal a long time ago” – Trumpcare slashed more than $100 billion from the Medicare Trust Fund.

Trumpcare was the exact opposite of everything the president promised his health care bill would be. And the American people should breathe a huge sigh of relief – a huge sigh of relief – that the bill didn’t pass, and there’s a lack of fundamental honesty here. If you believe that there shouldn’t be government involvement in health care, and the private sector should do it all – that’s a perfectly valid opinion, I don’t agree with it – and the president and frankly many of our Republican colleagues are trying to have it both ways. They want to say to their right-wing friends, I’m making government’s involvement much less. But then they say to the American people, you are going to get better coverage, more coverage at lower rates. The two are totally inconsistent. That’s why they’re having such trouble with Trumpcare over in the House. And there will be even worse trouble here in the Senate, if it ever gets here, which I hope it doesn’t.

Health care is another example of why this president has so little to show for his first 100 days. Instead of reaching out to Democrats to find areas where we could compromise on improving our health care system… we Democrats have always said don’t repeal Obamacare, improve it. We know it needs to have some changes. But instead they started out on their own in a partisan way, the very same party that criticized President Obama for just working with Democrats on the issue, despite a year-long effort to try.

So it failed.

And it’s emblematic of the president’s first 100 days. The president’s my-way-or-the-highway approach is one of the main reasons he has to show little on health care and show little for his first 100 days in office.