30-SOMETHING WORKING GROUP -- (House of Representatives - November 08, 2005)
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Ms. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ. Mr. Speaker, it is again a pleasure to be here with you to talk about the issues that are important to the American people. I think the gentleman from Alabama (Mr. Davis) and the gentleman from Florida (Mr. Meek) would both agree that this week really everything is going to come to a head. The choices that Members in this Chamber are going to be asked to make, more than any other week that I have been here, I think, are going to be emblematic of where our priorities are.
The choices that we are going to have to make on this budget reconciliation bill, which is Washington-speak for budget cuts, is going to show who is for the American people in making sure that they can sustain a decent quality of life and who is against that concept and is more supportive of making sure that the wealthy can stay wealthy. That is really what it boils down to.
Just to give you, Mr. Speaker, an idea, as well as anyone who can hear our conversation, of exactly what we are going to be asked to choose between this week, the Republican leadership and the Republican Members have been making a lot of hay about the spending cuts that they are going to ask us to vote for, that they are needed reductions because we have to do something about this deficit. And we agree. We agree that there needs to be something done about the deficit.
But the difference between our approach and the Republican approach is that our approach would actually reduce the deficit, and their approach actually adds to it. If you have a little less than $55 billion in budget cuts, yet still have 70-some-odd-billion dollars in tax cuts, the difference between that is $20 billion more added on to the deficit.
Now, I can tell you honestly that I was not very good at math when I was younger and struggled with it a little bit, but that is pretty simple math. That is not complex. It is not calculus. It does not require an advanced degree. Seventy minus 50 is 20. And it is not a negative number. It is a positive number added on to the deficit.
Let us demonstrate that while we are still providing $70 billion to tax cuts for the wealthy we are cutting the following things: for the sake of more tax cuts in this budget reconciliation bill, students can expect to pay as much as $5,800 more for college. For the sake of more tax cuts, 300,000 of America's neediest will be left without food stamps. For the sake of more tax cuts, we will fail in our obligation to bring hurricane victims lasting relief. For the sake of more tax cuts, $10 billion, $10 billion with a B, will be slashed from Medicaid. One in four children in America get their health care from Medicaid.
For the sake of more tax cuts, we will ensure that the deficit remains high and the burden of creating more debt and paying that debt by our selfishness in choosing to help the wealthy at the expense of the people who are the most in need and the people who are just working every day to make ends meet, that is the debt we are passing on to our children and our children's children. And it is just mind-boggling to me. I know I am a freshman. The two gentlemen have been here longer than me. Maybe I am naive. Maybe the gentleman can provide some clarity because to me it is simple math.
Mr. Speaker, I yield to the gentleman from Alabama (Mr. Davis).
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Ms. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ. The gentleman's bringing up faith as it relates to this budget document is incredibly important, because our friends on the other side of the aisle throw around family values as a term and as part of their make-up and try to contrast us, as if that is not part of ours.
Let us just look at what the faith community is saying about this budget, and what they have been saying about this budget. This week, this past week, we had a number of members of the organized religious community come to Washington and urge the Republican leadership not to pursue this budget reconciliation document.
You had Reverend Jim Wallis, the founder of Sojourners and Convener of Call to Renewal. You had Rabbi David Saperstein, who is the director of the Religious Action Center for Reform Judaism. You had Reverend Elenora Giddings Ivory, who is the Director of the Washington Office of the Presbyterian Church.
What Reverend Ivory said when she was here, she said, ``I am here today to express concern for the Federal budget reconciliation packages under consideration in the House and the Senate. Our Nation is about to balance its budget on the backs of the poor. Is that a moral thing to do? The Federal budget is a reflection of what we see as important and primary. Does the spending package under consideration reflect a caring and a compassionate society? Does it reflect you as a citizen of faith?''
I think that each of us, if we ask and look inside our own hearts, Republicans and Democrats alike, would have to answer each of those questions, absolutely not.
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Ms. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ. If the gentleman will yield, there is a way we can make changes which take us in a new direction: it is election day. We do not have to continue down this road. We do not have to continue to prop up and add to the bottom line of the wealthy. We can send the Republican leadership home, and we can start today.
What I think we would all like to see happen in the next couple of hours in Virginia, in Ohio, in New Jersey, in New York, in California, and anywhere else there is an election of significance, of course, all elections are significant, but where the more significant offices and contests are being held, we would like to urge all voters to go out to the polls tonight in those communities.
And just to help people know, there is still time left in Virginia. The polls close at 7 p.m. So there is about 45 minutes left. In Ohio, and these are all local times, in Ohio, the polls close at 7:30. In New Jersey, the polls close at 8:00 p.m. In New York, the polls close at 9 p.m. And in California, the polls close at 8 p.m. So we would urge all people who have an opportunity to make change in their State to cast their ballots today on election day. Make sure you get to your polling place and cast your vote to move this country in a new direction so we can continue to fight to make these changes.
Now, Mr. Speaker, just to transition our conversation from the tax cuts to the whole issue of where we are going in terms of the budget cuts, in addition to cuts that affect children, in addition to child support payments, in addition to Medicaid cuts, this budget will do more damage than we have ever done to people who are trying to expand their horizons and get access to higher education. What is unbelievable about these budget cuts is that in terms of higher education, this is the most significant cut in history being made in this budget document to financial aid than we have ever seen before.
Mr. Speaker, we are joined tonight by my good friend and colleague, the gentleman from the great State of Missouri (Mr. Carnahan), and he has been a champion on this issue in trying to raise people's awareness of just exactly what this Republican budget document would do to people who are struggling to get access to higher education. I yield to the gentleman from Missouri.
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Ms. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ. We actually have a chart that outlines some of the things my colleague is about to go over so we can make sure that people have it very clearly in front of them
Mr. CARNAHAN. I would really appreciate my colleagues trying to get that information out. Again, I think it is important as this debate proceeds over the next few days and weeks ahead, some believe a vote could come as early as Thursday, that people back home, families, students, leaders in education, contact their Members to let them know this is not the way to address the financial needs in our country.
Ms. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ. If my colleague wishes to go over the details he was beginning to talk about on the bottom of the chart.
Mr. CARNAHAN. Certainly.
Ms. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ. What we try to do in this 30-something time, we do a lot of talking, but we also want to show people with third-party validators and with the specifics blown up in poster-size form so that they have it both in graphical depiction as well as in description from us individually. So that was just showing my colleague that while he goes through just exactly what these cuts in student aid do, we have that up for the folks at home.
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Ms. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ. Mr. Speaker, all of what we are saying here tonight has caused me to look at the view of our generation and how we feel about the future and the direction that this leadership, this Republican leadership, is taking this country.
We did a little research in my office. President John F. Kennedy once implored Americans to ask not what their country could do for them, but what they could do for their country. Another important question that all of these issues raises is how all of this budget cutting and pulling the rug out from under college students' future leaves them feeling in terms of public service and what their government can do for people and whether they would want to be a part of that.
So we found some research that showed just exactly how our generation feels about this. A 2004 Hart Research Study for the Council of Excellence in Government found that 34 percent of young Americans said the idea of a government service career did not appeal to them.
What does that say about the confidence that this leadership is inspiring in our generation? Mr. Speaker, that is 34 percent. That is a huge number. It means they have no confidence in government's ability to improve people's lives.
After 9/11, we were starting to change those statistics. You saw after 9/11 the incredible response of first responders and of volunteers. All of our hearts in America swelled after the response from 9/11. The polling that was done then showed that young people felt that the response to 9/11 made them more likely to pursue careers in government and the public sector. But recent events, the culture of corruption, cronyism, the lack of competence that has been evident since the inception of this administration has absolutely, in 3 years from 9/11, 2001, to 2004, totally turned that belief in government's ability to improve our lives on its head.
Just by way of example, some things that most likely did cause that, let us go under the category of corruption. When young people see politicians, leaders of our Nation, deliberately deceiving the American people, an example would be the recent indictment of Mr. Libby and the deceptive actions of Mr. Rove. You have people who spend their lives serving their country; and what happens, people in the administration, a person for the first time indicted in 130 years that served in the White House, people in the administration repay them that service by revealing a CIA's agent covert status, jeopardizing the lives of countless numbers of government employees who are trying to do good work on behalf of the United States of America.
Example number two of corruption: We went to Iraq under questionable circumstances, under false pretenses, no question about it. We send American men and women into the battlefield, and more than 2,000 have given their lives. If you ask the average person, particularly in our generation, if they know for what those lives were given, I do not think that they feel confident that they would give an answer that anyone would be happy about.
Let us look at the cronyism that might have caused this shift in confidence in our generation. This generation of young people is extremely independent. They have a spirit of self-determination. They are less likely to identify with a political party. Most young people today are identifying themselves as Independents. They see political appointments based on friendships. The appointment of Michael Brown, ``Brownie,'' because he was a college roommate with someone in the administration, with a friend of the President, being put in charge of one of the most important agencies in the country in terms of making sure that people's lives are protected as a disaster approaches and we can help them afterwards, we put someone in charge of that agency whose sum total of his experience was he was president of the Arabian Horse Association.
Mr. RYAN of Ohio. Mr. Speaker, that is what our generation is going to change when we take the country in another direction. It is time for us to start saying that we want the best and the brightest to come and work for our government. There used to be a day and age when government service, assisting your country, coming from the private sector for a few years and helping out and giving your time and talents to the government was a respected endeavor.
Ms. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ. The bottom line is we can do better. Together we can lock arms. Our generation can say to the generation in front of us that has been leading this country, give us the baton. It is our turn. We are not going there any more. We want to turn this country around. We want to make sure our children have health care, that mothers and fathers when their kids get sick do not have to wait until their kid is so sick they have to take them to the emergency room for their health care.
We do not want to cut the budget for abused and neglected children. We are going to continue to pursue deadbeat dads. State legislators have fought tooth and nail to ensure that we can continue to go after deadbeat dads; yet in this budget we will consider this week, that opportunity would be lost. We would be preventing that opportunity. The list goes on and on. It adds insult to injury. It cuts the school lunch program, which is a program that makes it so that some kids, the only place they can get a meal, a decent meal, is from that free and reduced lunch, and the Republican leadership would cut that program.
Our generation can take the country in a new direction, and we are ready to.
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