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30-Something Working Group

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Location: Washington, DC


30-SOMETHING WORKING GROUP -- (House of Representatives - November 03, 2005)

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Ms. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ. Mr. Speaker, will the gentleman yield?

Mr. MEEK of Florida. I yield to the gentlewoman from Florida.

Ms. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ. Mr. Speaker, I am champing at the bit here because he is absolutely right, and one of the things I want to emphasize, because I think in the last few nights we have not gotten this point across to the Speaker and to the folks who might be hearing this conversation this evening, the purpose of the 30-something Group, the main purpose, is for us to help get some understanding out to our generation about the issues that we are debating in this Congress and how it affects them. And the student aid cuts that the gentleman was talking about just a few minutes ago, more than any other issue almost, is the easiest for folks in our generation to understand how it impacts them.

What maybe is not so obvious is what Congressman Meek was just talking about a minute ago. The Republican leadership, our friends on the other side of the aisle, will try, as they put forth this reconciliation act, AKA budget cuts, because reconciliation and other words that are used inside this Chamber and in this Capitol, that is Washington speak for budget cuts, the budget cuts that they are saying they are going to need to put forward to address the deficit and to address the out-of-control spending that they have engaged in are not for Katrina relief, are not being put forward so that we can pay for Katrina and for the aftermath of Katrina. They are so that they can preserve the $70 billion in tax cuts that they have put forward.

Let us boil this down to its simplest terms. They will represent and have been representing that they have to do these cuts because the impact from Katrina is so significant and we have got to do something. We have got to get a handle on the spending. Why does getting a handle on the spending have to be on the backs of the people who can least afford it and we are going to enrich the backs of the people who do not need help?

Mr. RYAN of Ohio. Mr. Speaker, if the gentleman from Florida will continue to yield, I think it is quite interesting too that our good friend Jim Wallace, an evangelical preacher, and several others from religious organizations, are stepping up and trying to pressure the Republican Party, who have called themselves Christians and who have utilized the Christian right and the label of the Christian Coalition and yet in the very next breath they cut poverty programs, cut programs for average people. I find that horribly hypocritical.

Ms. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ. Mr. Speaker, I wanted to be even more specific, because he is absolutely right. The groups that are out there trying to help those in need are opposing these cuts. Every major religious institution has sent letters to our Speaker, to this Republican leadership, asking them not to do what they are trying to do, not to harm people who are most in need, particularly in exchange for preserving tax cuts for our wealthiest citizens.

Just in student aid alone, they are proposing a cut of more than $14 billion from the student aid program, which is the largest cut in history to Federal student loan programs. On top of that, it increases the cost for student borrowers who are already saddled with about $17,500 in debt. They will be forced to pay $5,800 more for their college loans. In my community that is really real money.

Mr. RYAN of Ohio. That is a lot of money.

Ms. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ. That is real money. I do not know a lot of people who can just reach into their pocket or go down to their local bank branch and yank out $5,800.

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Ms. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ. Mr. Speaker, if the gentleman will yield further, if I can just say one thing, first of all, it is such a pleasure to see you and have you join us tonight. The gentlewoman from Nevada (Ms. Berkley) has been an amazing advocate for the people who are on this floor tonight championing their cause. Those of us in the 30-something generation have had an opportunity to stand on your shoulders for the years you have been in Congress and been in the legislature in the State of Nevada fighting for the people that have no voice. That is really why we are here. We are so glad and privileged to have you join us tonight to take up this fight.

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Ms. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ. If the gentleman will yield, $8 trillion is a really, really big number, a difficult number for a lot of people to get their minds around in terms of a concept. Tell us, how much money does that translate per man, woman and child in America?

Mr. RYAN of Ohio. That is $27,000 for each person. So if you are a baby born today, right now, my nephew, Nicholas, born 3 weeks ago, he owes $27,000 to pay for the debt.

Now as we look at the numbers, as the gentlewoman stated earlier, he is going to go to college and have to borrow money, $17,000, $18,000, now an additional $6,000. So this kid before he even gets out into the workforce to have a full-time job is going to owe $27,000 on the debt and $23,000 on student loans. That is $50,000. Run that out 22 years, plus the additional burden we are putting on this young fellow, and what kind of future are we leaving to this kid?

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Ms. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ. Mr. Speaker, I am also going to speak up for those of our colleagues with white hair, because Mr. Meek and I represent tens of thousands of folks with white hair.

When the President talked about an ownership society, I think he was talking, well, I must have misunderstood him because, apparently, he is more interested in making sure that the top 1 percent of the population owns everything and that they are the only ones in a position to own anything.

Because if you look at people's ability to afford housing, in almost every major city in America, it has become virtually out of reach. The average price of a house in just my county is $348,000, the average price of a house. Now, that is not an attainable price for an average middle-class person, never mind somebody who is on the lower end of the socioeconomic spectrum.

But let us talk about senior citizens. Let us talk about the folks who are living on fixed incomes. And then, let us turn to the people who are in our community, in south Florida, who just got hit by a category 3 storm who, right after the storm, were in a bad enough situation to begin with, because we got hit much worse than anyone expected. But then, 2 days ago, it started pouring rain on the houses that were already blown out by the wind and the rain.

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Ms. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ. Oh, yes. These people in this picture, this lovely couple who happen to be constituents of mine, they live in a condominium in my district where I just went door to door giving out self-heating meals. These are people who are frail. They were told that they had to leave because many hundreds of the apartments in this condominium complex alone are being condemned after the rain because there are gaping holes in the roof. And on top of that, with thousands of people now, thousands of people in Palm Beach, Broward, and Miami-Dade counties who were hit by Wilma and whose homes are being condemned, there are numbers in the thousands, and that is just after this week's rain, we expect more rain in the future; and they are not even done counting the number of buildings that have been affected.

This budget reconciliation, these budget cuts cut housing vouchers, cut affordable housing programs. Just in our State, we would take a 3,500 section 8 voucher cut. So we are talking about people who are hit by a natural disaster who are being forced out of their houses, and now they will have the manmade disaster of this budget cut, these budget cuts that will force even more people out of their houses.

But ``we want to create an ownership society in America.'' The President of the United States was elected to help people own things and to accumulate things. All I can see anyone accumulating is people who already have a whole lot and could live their whole lives not accumulating one more thing.

When is it going to stop? When are we going to be able to be in a position here in this Chamber to move this country in a new direction and start helping people again?

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Mr. DELAHUNT. Can someone explain to me, anybody, why the oil companies, that had revenues in the last quarter of some $100 billion, each and every one of them saw huge increases in terms of their net profits, why they need subsidies?

Ms. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ. Mr. Speaker, I will tell the gentleman why. Because according to the Republican leadership, they do not want an ownership society; they want an own-everything society. That is why. Because they fall into the category of groups and individuals that the Republican leadership in this country clearly believes should own everything.

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