DEFICIT REDUCTION ACT OF 2005 -- (House of Representatives - November 09, 2005)
The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under the Speaker's announced policy of January 4, 2005, the gentlewoman from Tennessee (Mrs. Blackburn) is recognized for 60 minutes as the designee of the majority leader.
Mrs. BLACKBURN. Mr. Speaker, you know, there is an age-old drama that Americans have seen play out time and time again here in Washington, and I know that some nights as they are watching TV and they click across C-SPAN and they watch individuals come to the floor, they might think this is a rerun or they might think same song, second verse because they have to think that they have heard this before.
I think probably their thoughts go something like this, that taxpayers are tired of seeing their hard-earned paychecks wasted by Big Government, and so the taxpayers say we are going to demand some spending reductions. The Republicans agree and the Republicans propose some spending reductions.
Well, the Democrats just cannot stand to see those spending reductions. So they start the name-calling, and they come down and they say that any reduction that we want to make in spending, anytime we are going to slow the growth of spending, well, you know what, it is draconian, it is mean-spirited, it is cruel, it is heartless, it is cold-blooded. We all hear all the descriptive adjectives. They start telling virtually every man, woman, and child in America that these reductions will do terrible, awful things and that the Republicans are just mean, nasty people.
Mr. Speaker, it is like clockwork. It really is like clockwork, and I think that I know why many times our colleagues across the aisle fight our efforts when it comes to fiscal responsibility, when it comes to reining in the size of the Federal Government, when it comes to reducing spending, when it comes to getting government off your back and out of your pocket. I think I know why the Democrats fight it time and time and time again.
This government, this big, Washington-focused bureaucracy that spends your money out of your pocket, that you go to work and you earn, this government, this bureaucracy, is a monument to them. They spent 40 years with an iron grip on this U.S. House of Representatives; and in that time, they constructed a vast monument to themselves called Federal Government bureaucracy.
It is expensive, it is old, and it is a mismanaged monument that forces you, the taxpayer, the average, hardworking American family, to spend 6 months every year paying for it. Tax freedom day, look at some of the dates we have had in years past, July 4, June 30, June 28. You are working half the time to pay for government.
Well, Mr. Speaker, I can tell you something right now. This Republican majority in the U.S. House of Representatives is working to change that. We want to change that. Democrats do not. It is that simple.
So, tonight, we are going to talk a little bit about the budget savings we are working to pass in this House in a bill that is called the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005.
Mr. Speaker, this legislation is a good, solid plan from the Republican leadership. It is a plan that will put this government on track to reform; and in the end, the goal is to yield a savings for the American taxpayer.
The bill that my colleagues are going to join me in discussing tonight is finding $53.9 billion in spending reductions over the next several years in a $2.4 trillion-a-year budget. Mr. Speaker, I want everybody at home to hear that: $53.9 billion, that is billion with a B, in savings, over several years of a yearly budget of $2.4 trillion, and that is trillion with a T.
Mr. Speaker, we are not asking a lot. In fact, we should be asking for a whole lot more. The constituents in my seventh district of Tennessee want to see us reduce Federal spending more. They want to see more of these programs that have outlived their usefulness put on the table, reviewed, put into sunset, deauthorized, scaled down, or taken away.
But I will tell you, I think that for many of the Democrats what we are proposing is too much. They cannot commit even to that. So tonight we are going to talk some about why we need to reform this government and why we need to make these spending reductions.
At this time, I would like to yield to one of my colleagues who has joined us. The gentleman from Georgia (Mr. Gingrey) is going to join us and talk for a few minutes about Medicaid. We are hearing so much about Medicaid. We have heard the left say that we are slashing it, that we are cutting it; and you know what, in spite of all this talk, Medicaid will grow. We are not talking about cuts. We are talking about reducing spending, and I yield to the gentleman from Georgia (Mr. Gingrey).
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Mrs. BLACKBURN. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for his comments, and he is exactly right. Medicaid needed reforms that would address some of the waste, fraud and abuse; reforms that would deal with the processes and procedures of the delivery of the program. Once we go through achieving these efficiencies, there will be individuals who truly need it, who will see a better delivery of service.
These are flexibilities that the governors, the nonpartisan National Governors Association, have asked us to make. They are things we have worked with them on, and we are pleased to bring forward the type of reforms that will yield the efficiencies that are needed.
Mr. Speaker, another colleague who is joining us this evening is the gentleman from Tennessee (Mr. Wamp), another member of my delegation who is a member of the Appropriations Committee. He has brought wisdom and expertise to the appropriations process and being certain that we are wise stewards of the taxpayers' dollars.
I yield to Mr. Wamp out of Chattanooga, who is going to talk with us for a few moments about the work they have done in the Appropriations Committee as we work toward a Deficit Reduction Act that is going to help put us on track to achieve some savings for the American people through the reform process.
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Mrs. BLACKBURN. I thank the gentleman from Tennessee for his wise words and for joining us in this debate and reminding us we do hear a lot of rhetoric, as he mentioned. We have the Blue Dogs from the Democrat side, who have been coming to the floor demanding spending increases. Suddenly they are not so fiscally conservative.
Well, it is like the story I used to read to my children, the Three Little Bears. It is almost as if you have to have it just right. Just right. And they are going to let the perfect be the enemy of the good, because these are good, solid reductions and a good, solid plan for moving forward, a great first step.
As we have worked through this process, we have heard from the gentlewoman from Virginia several times in regard to military issues and veterans' issues. She has such a heart for this and works so diligently on these issues, so at this time I yield to the gentlewoman from Virginia (Mrs. Drake) to set the record straight about the appropriations and the funding for our veterans' programs.
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Mrs. BLACKBURN. Mr. Speaker, I join the gentlewoman in a heartfelt thanks to our veterans, as she speaks about the fiscal stewardship and the common-sense reforms we need to put into these programs. It is so frustrating to veterans in my district when they get the runaround and cannot get a proper answer and go from one bureaucracy to another bureaucracy. To take three programs and roll it into one, as H.R. 4061 has done, that is common sense.
We hope to achieve efficiencies and save money on that program and the administration so it goes into programs and we get that money into programs that are so needed and so deserved by our veterans.
Again, God bless those veterans. And I say God bless the gentlewoman from Virginia who has worked so hard on these issues.
A leader on agricultural issues is the gentleman from Iowa (Mr. King). He is going to talk about the agriculture bill and then will return to the floor to talk about what has been done through the agriculture appropriations process.
Mr. Speaker, I yield to the gentleman from Iowa (Mr. King).
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Mrs. BLACKBURN. Mr. Speaker, the gentleman from Iowa truly is a great conservationist not only with the soil and the land in Iowa, and we love to say he gets his best information on the back of his tractor working his pastures, as we hear his good, conservative philosophies put to work in this House, as he talks about being a conservative and a conservationist in his spending, in his farming and in his love of the land and in his love of freedom. We are so pleased that he has reminded us and shown us how the Committee on Agriculture, again practicing fiscal stewardship, practicing what they preach, living it out to be certain that every single committee looks at their programs and says there is a better way for us to do this. There is a way to reduce this spending, and the American people are going to benefit.
We have heard many times over the past several months from the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Hensarling) who has come to the floor and has talked with us about having respect for families and the family budget, about how important it is that we realize that taxes and fees are the largest part of a family budget and how the Federal Government should be sensitive to that and work to reduce that burden.
I have asked Mr. Hensarling to join us tonight and talk with us for a few minutes about what happens if we do not pass the Deficit Reduction Act, where will we be if we do not pass this act.
Mr. Speaker, I yield to the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Hensarling).
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Mrs. BLACKBURN. Mr. Speaker, reclaiming my time, I thank the gentleman from Texas for his comments.
And he is so correct. If we do not take these steps to rein in spending, to reform government, to get on this plan that is going to reform this government and begin yielding a savings for the American people, we will see it go from taking 20 percent to 40 percent of our resources. Fiscal stewardship demands that we work to find a way to restrain the growth of government, to begin to roll it back. And it is not easy, as I said earlier. The Democrats spent 40 years building a monument to themselves, a great big bureaucracy; and it takes time to begin to break it apart.
As the gentleman from Texas was talking, I was looking over a chart that had the 12 largest post-war deficits that we have seen in this country. Of course, one of them was 1946, when we were hard at war and fighting and coming back from World War II. Mr. Speaker, these other years, 1983, 1985, 1986, 1984, 1992, 1991, 1976, 1982, 1993, 1990, Democrat control. It is time for us to put this Nation on a track to reform government, to reduce the bureaucracy, to be certain that money is going into programs to meet needs at the local level; that money is not being soaked up by the bureaucracy that sits in these buildings around Washington, D.C.
Mr. Speaker, I yield to the gentlewoman from North Carolina (Ms. Foxx), who is a leader in education on the Education and Workforce Committee, and she is going to talk with us for just a few moments and dispel a couple of myths pertaining to education funding and talk about what we are trying to do to be certain that young people have the opportunity to dream big dreams, dream big dreams and have great adventures and look forward with hope and opportunity to a future.
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Mrs. BLACKBURN. Mr. Speaker, reclaiming my time, I thank the gentlewoman from North Carolina for her comments.
She is exactly right. Reforming the process, reforming the way government does business, making it simple, being certain that we find another way to get government off people's back, out of their pocketbook, simplify the system so that the money gets to where it is needed, in this case, in education, getting that money into the student loan programs so that students are in the classrooms, so that they have access to those classrooms.
We have been joined by the gentlewoman from Ohio (Mrs. Schmidt), and she is new as a Member of the U.S. House of Representatives. She comes with a State legislative background from the State of Ohio where she has worked on so many of the health care programs, the reform programs that were needed, and working with Governors. At this time she is going to spend just a couple of moments and talk about some of the reforms that were needed by the Governors and are addressed in this bill.
I yield to the gentlewoman from Ohio.
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Mrs. BLACKBURN. Mr. Speaker, reclaiming my time, I thank the gentlewoman for her comments.
At this time I yield to the gentleman from Minnesota (Mr. Gutknecht), who is going to talk with us about the food stamp program and address some of the myths that we have been hearing about this program. This gentleman has done so much work in the agriculture programs, looking to be certain that we address the stewardship requirements that our constituents and citizens have for us.
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Mrs. BLACKBURN. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for his time tonight. I will remind everyone that facts are stubborn things. We know we do not balance the budget by raising taxes and balancing it on the backs of hard-working Americans. You get this deficit under control by cutting spending and promoting economic growth and creating a bright future for future generations.