Schumer Floor Remarks on the Russia Investigation, President Trump’s Budget Proposal, and Expected CBO Report on Trumpcare

May 24, 2017

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today delivered remarks on the Senate floor regarding the current investigation into ties between Russia and the Trump campaign, the Trump Administration’s recently released budget proposal, and the Congressional Budget Office’s report on Trumpcare expected this afternoon. Below are his remarks:

Mr. President, yesterday former CIA Director John Brennan testified in the House Intelligence Committee that he had growing concerns about Russian interference in the final months of the 2016 election, adding that an investigation into potential collusion between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin was “well founded.”

He issued very strong words. Coming from a very careful civil servant from the intelligence community, Mr. Brennan’s testimony should further compel Congress and the special counsel to pursue the full truth.

What Mr. Brennan said was happening gets at the very core of our democracy: the free and fair elections of our representatives. Americans of all political stripes should be outraged by what Putin and the Russians did during the 2016 elections. As former Director Brennan said, in America “we cherish [the] ability to elect [our] own leaders without outside interference or disruption.”

So again, I expect that the Senate Intelligence Committee continues its bipartisan investigation into these events. I expect that special counsel Mueller will help us all get to the bottom of this – and we must make sure that he is not interfered with.

And finally, I expect that this body will hold up a high standard for the next FBI Director. He or she should be someone who is nonpartisan and independent – a director’s director, a prosecutor’s prosecutor – not a politician of either party.

Amidst all the furor, we cannot lose sight of the most serious part of this investigation: the scope of Russian interference in our elections, and if they colluded with representatives of an American campaign in the process. That’s very serious stuff. We must pursue that investigation with vigor, no matter who might stand in the way of it.

Now, Mr. President, on another matter.

Yesterday morning the Trump Administration released their 2018 budget.

The document is stunning in its cruelty – it takes a sledgehammer to the middle class and the working poor while lavishing tax breaks on the wealthy.

They may not have intended it, but the Trump budget is a compilation of all the broken promises this president has made to working Americans. In his budget, President Trump has broken promise after promise after promise to working people without any shame, without any remorse, without any explanation.

The president promised to increase infrastructure investment, but his budget actually cuts more money from infrastructure programs than the new money it puts in. The President's proposal to slash American infrastructure investments is a job-killing, 180 degree turn away from his repeated promise of a trillion dollar infrastructure plan. President Trump’s campaign promises on infrastructure are crumbling faster than our roads and bridges. And I want to ask the Trump Administration: How can we expect that you’re going to be real about a trillion dollar infrastructure plan when your budget cuts infrastructure dramatically? Right now, don’t you think it adds up? To us it does, and it makes us very dubious of any attempt to do infrastructure by this Administration. We hope we’re wrong. But the budget is a document that tells where the real truth is in terms of Administration beliefs, and they sure as heck by this budget don’t like infrastructure.

The president has said that education was the “civil rights issue of our time,” but the Trump budget calls for over $3.2 billion in cuts to higher education; eliminates program that forgive loans for public service jobs, like teachers and doctors; eliminates subsidized student loan program that helps lower cost for college. College students of America, look at the President’s budget. See if he’s on your side. He sure as heck isn’t.

The president said he would “save Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid without cuts. Have to do it,” those are his words. But the Trump budget slashes Social Security by $72 billion and cuts Medicaid by hundreds of billions, in addition to the more than $800 billion Trumpcare cuts took from Medicaid already from the House bill. All in all, that’s a $1 trillion broken promise on Medicaid. And remember, America, Medicaid is a program that affects the poor – that’s a good thing – but much of the money goes to help the middle class, elderly people in nursing homes, families fighting opioid addiction. So, bottom line, this is another broken promise to the middle class Trump made in the campaign.

The budget breaks promise after promise after promise the President made to what he called the forgotten America, the working men and women of America. Well, this budget forgot the forgotten American.

The budget depends on fantasy math to make all the cuts work.

The budget takes a quantum leap into a new dimension of budgetary fairytale.

Not only does it assume growth as a way to balance the budget – no economist thinks we can achieve 3% growth in the near term. But the Trump budget double counts it and double dips in a way we have never seen in any budget before. You see, the Trump budget includes the assumption that they will pass deficit-neutral tax reform. In order for it to be deficit-neutral, they need to assume the economy grows fast enough to make up for lost revenues.

But at the same time, the Trump budget assumes that growth will pay for tax cuts AND help pay down the deficit. Both.

Take the estate tax, as an example. President Trump has proposed eliminating the estate tax in tax reform. Yet, the Trump budget assumes that the government will take in more than $300 billion in estate taxes over the next ten years. In other words, part of the budget says, we’re getting rid of the estate tax. Part of the budget says, $300 billion that the estate tax brings in is counted toward balancing the budget. Never seen anything like it. If an accountant did this – I don’t know accounting standards in detail – but they’d be kicked out of the accounting profession.

In short, as Benyamin Applebaum in the New York Times points out, “President Trump is proposing to balance the federal budget in part by simultaneously increasing estate taxation and eliminating estate taxation.” Let me read that, this is a reporter for the New York Times – not some politician of a political party: “President Trump is proposing to balance the federal budget in part by simultaneously increasing estate taxation and eliminating estate taxation.” The gall, the nerve, the facts-be-darned attitude in this budget is appalling.

What they said on the estate tax is a complete contradiction. The government cannot take in money from a tax that no longer exists. Where are our fiscal watchdogs on the other side of the aisle when they do stuff like this?

Everyone knows presidential budgets contain some degree of flexibility, but what the Trump budget does is a quantum leap that would make an accountant blush – if they could stay in their profession after doing this.

The budget is a total fantasy – a deeply unserious proposal to Congress. Members of both parties are right to reject it. I applaud many of my Republican colleagues for speaking out against this proposal. And again, what will happen – my guess – is Democrats and Republicans will ignore the Trump budget, because it is so harsh on the middle class and because it is such an accounting nightmare, and we’ll do our own budget and we’ll probably produce something pretty good for the American people, like we did in 2017.

Finally, Mr. President, healthcare.

The Republican attempts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, combined with the Trump Administration’s refusal to commit to making key cost-sharing payments that help keep healthcare costs low for working Americans – has created large uncertainty in our healthcare system.

This uncertainty has already caused insurers to flee the marketplace or propose rate increases for next year. A spokesman for the America’s Health Insurance plans, that’s the industry’s main trade group, again not a politician, they said: “We need swift action and long-term certainty on [the cost-sharing program]. It is the single most destabilizing factor in the individual market, and millions of Americans could soon feel the impact of fewer choices, higher costs and reduced access to care.” My Republican colleagues – remember, if you continue to allow the president to do this, if we don’t make cost-sharing permanent, the system will deteriorate. And guess whose back it will be on? Yours. Yours, my Republican friends. You’re in charge. And when people get a bad healthcare bill, you can blame anyone you want. You’re in charge. Fix it.

Refusing to guarantee the cost-sharing payments is sabotage. And the repeated attempts to pass Trumpcare will only make matters worse.

The White House ought to step up and say once and for all that they will continue to make the cost-sharing payments permanently, and Republicans in Congress ought to drop their repeal efforts, and instead work with us on stabilizing the market and improving our health care system.

Now, today the Congressional Budget Office will release its analysis of the House Republican healthcare bill – Trumpcare                                 

I’d remind my colleagues how unusual it is for a CBO score to come out nearly three weeks AFTER a bill has passed. It’s like test driving a brand new car three weeks AFTER you’ve already signed on the dotted line and paid the dealer in full.

Republicans in the House were so worried about how bad the CBO score might be, they rushed Trumpcare through: no hearings, no debate, no score. …Never mind that this legislation remakes one-sixth of our nation’s economy, it has life-and-death consequences for millions of American families.

Republicans were haunted by the ghost of CBO scores past, so they went ahead without one.

Now when the CBO analyzed the first version of Trumpcare earlier this year, it concluded that 24 million fewer Americans would have health insurance if it became law. We also learned the bill would gut Medicaid, crush seniors with higher premiums, and it would increase out-of-pocket expenses for Americans of all ages with higher deductibles and copays.

Given that there were few differences between the first and second versions of Trumpcare, we can expect today’s CBO analysis will likely show many of the same, grave consequences as the first. Only now, of course, Trumpcare includes a new amendment allows states to opt-out of the requirement to cover people with pre-existing conditions.

It’s hard to imagine such an amendment would make today’s CBO score any better than the last. And it could certainly raise a lot of new questions.

Does the deal that the Freedom Caucus got with the second version of Trumpcare violate the rules of reconciliation? Will the House have to change the bill and then take another vote, yet another on Trumpcare?

We don’t yet know the answers to these questions.  And we may not know the answers even after seeing today’s CBO analysis.

But all these open questions demonstrate how reckless it was for Republicans to vote on this bill without properly vetting it first.