A picture of Senator Frank R. Lautenberg
Frank L.
Former Democrat NJ
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    American Family Economic Protection Act of 2013—Motion to Proceed

    by Former Senator Frank R. Lautenberg

    Posted on 2013-02-28

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    LAUTENBERG. Mr. President, the sequestration spending cuts that are scheduled to begin tomorrow would cause pain and hardship across our country. These cuts will be devastating to workers, small businesses, middle class families, and children.

    The list of essential programs and services that will be affected by sequestration is long. So today, I would like to focus on just a few of the more than 50 agencies funded by the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Subcommittee, which I chair.

    My subcommittee helps small businesses get the loans they need. It keeps Wall Street watchdogs on the job. And it funds the agencies that stand up for consumers and stand guard against unfair and deceptive business practices. But the largest single appropriation in my subcommittee goes to our Nation's tax collector--the IRS.

    At about $12 billion, the IRS budget is a major expense. But cutting the IRS budget is short-sighted instead of reducing our deficit, shrinking the IRS makes our deficit larger.

    That's because short-changing the IRS makes it easier for tax cheats to avoid paying what they owe.

    Last year alone, about $400 billion in taxes owed were never paid.

    Mr. President, I was a CEO for many years. If there is one thing I learned in my time at ADP, it is that you can't run a company without revenues. And you surely can't run a country without revenues. The sequestration plan Republicans insisted on will slash the IRS and sacrifice revenues. In fact, for every dollar the sequester cuts from the IRS, our deficit will increase by at least $4.

    These cuts make no sense. But these IRS budget cuts are just the beginning of our problems. Under sequestration, as many as 1,900 small businesses won't get loans, which would mean 22,000 fewer jobs at a time when millions are looking for work. Wall Street watchdogs like the SEC and CFTC will be forced to go home, leaving investors on Main Street vulnerable to wolves on Wall Street. And cuts to the Judiciary could jeopardize one of the most important aspects of our life: the safety of our families. That is because we will have fewer probation officers to supervise criminal offenders in our communities. Courtrooms will be less safe because of cuts to their security systems. And cuts to mental health and drug treatment programs could lead to more offenders relapsing into lives of crime.

    The Federal Bar Association agrees. They wrote in a letter last week to Chairman Mikulski and me that, Funding reductions could jeopardize the supervision of thousands of persons under pretrial release and convicted felons released from federal prisons, compromising public safety in communities across the Nation.

    Mr. President, I voted against the legislation that put us on the path to sequestration because I was concerned about the effects of reckless cuts on everyday Americans. Just look at what sequestration will do to Head Start a program that helps our most vulnerable children learn how to learn: 70,000 kids could be kicked out of Head Start, including 1,300 in New Jersey.

    We had a chance today to vote on a bill to replace these cuts with a balanced approach to deficit reduction, but our Republican colleagues insisted on protecting loopholes for the wealthy and big corporations. I hope that they will reconsider their position in the coming weeks, and work with us to undo these damaging cuts.

    The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Illinois.

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