THE CONSEQUENCES OF THE DEMOCRATS' ACTIONS -- (House of Representatives - February 28, 2007)
Mrs. BLACKBURN. Madam Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to stand before the body today and talk about what we are seeing happen with some of the actions our colleagues on the other side of the aisle, the Democrats, have taken and what those actions, the consequences that they are having on our Nation's economy and the Nation's health.
Madam Speaker, we all feel like that one of the defining, iconic, fundamental items of this great Nation is our free-enterprise system. It is an imperative that individuals have the opportunity to show up to a proper job, to work hard, to get that job, to succeed and then to share that success with their families. We all call that the American dream, when you can work hard and build a life and build a nest egg and retire and enjoy the benefits of that.
It has been of tremendous concern to us, as we have seen the actions of this Congress and the effect that some of those actions are having on our Nation's economy. We have seen spending go up. There was a continuing resolution, supposed to be, that was passed by this body, but it turned out to be a head scratcher for most Americans because it was not level funding. It was not continued funding. It was $10 billion more in increased funding than had been there previously.
Now, where I come from in Tennessee, if you have one number and you add to it, you end up with more. That is an increase. It is an increase, and I think most Americans see it just that way.
What we also saw was that departments and agencies did not end up getting what they had had last year. There was some creative bookkeeping, some sleight of hand, if you will, that was taking place in smoke-filled rooms, not on the floor of the House, but with comments being made like, I am going to pick up the phone and call over to an agency and tell them how I want them to spend that money.
So that meant picking winners and losers out of the pot of money, and, of course, in my district, where I come from in Tennessee, we were very, very concerned that the loser was military construction. The loser was our men and women in uniform who are fighting to defend our freedom so that everything we do here is relevant. How shameful, how shameful that it is their projects that hit the chopping block.
So we saw that spending in that budget go up. Then we have been able to see what has happened with tax increases. All the language through the campaign of we are not going to increase your taxes, but we are going to do all these things, but we are not going to increase your taxes.
Well, I did a little figuring today to see what had happened with mandates and taxes and where we were on this issue, and, Madam Speaker, just to do a quick little checklist, as we have them, we have H.R. 2, the minimum wage bill. That was a $17 billion mandate on this Nation's small businesses, 17 B, billion, mandate on small businesses. That does not sound like something that is very friendly to our Nation's free-enterprise system.
Then we had H.R. 5, the student loan. That was a $7.1 billion repeal of lender subsidies, $7.1 billion more that the taxpayers then have to pick up the bill on.
Oh, and I know it is sometimes fun to say, wink-wink, nod-nod, fees and user fees aren't always taxes. But, yes, indeed they are, because, as Ronald Reagan said, It's the taxpayer that pays. It's coming out of their pocket. So we see $17 billion on small businesses. We see $7.1 billion on lender subsidies and student loans. That is going to make education more expensive. H.R. 6, the CLEAN Energy bill, $7.6 billion in tax increases. And then, to add insult to injury, $314 million in repeal of tax credits on those that are out there trying to make certain that we become independent of foreign oil.
Now, some things are not only counterintuitive but they are counterproductive. And as we look at this, certainly raising taxes on those that are working to find alternative energy, raising taxes on our businesses who are working for clean energy, it just doesn't make good sense. It defies common sense. We see that in the CLEAN Energy Act.
Continuing on through the list, H.R. 976, the small business bill, actually is a $45 million increase in taxes. So what we have is since we have been here and since our colleagues across the aisle have taken control of the majority, they have increased taxes on their constituents by $32 billion. That is just tax increases. That doesn't count the added spending that is coming to this floor day after day after day, and we know that as we begin to work on budgets in coming years that that is going to continue to mount up. Because what we have learned is that the bill always comes due. Isn't it amazing, Madam Speaker, the bill always comes due. Somebody has to pay the bill. Or, as my used car dealership in my town says, Somebody's got to tote the note. And unfortunately it is the American taxpayer that is toting the note for the Democrats' spending habits.
You can go back to the Great Society and the New Deal and you can look at the way this bureaucracy has grown and grown and grown in this town. Madam Speaker, I would guess that many of this body are like me. They have individuals and constituents from different agencies that are coming in and visiting with them this week and what we are hearing is good programs, veterans programs, conservation programs, the money is not making it to the local level. And why isn't it? It is because the bureaucracy is soaking up all of the money right here in D.C. and our constituents' money is not leaving town. So we look at this $32 billion that has been raised in taxes since the Democrats took control, and we know that there is more note that we are going to have to tote on this budget, but we know they are going to come along and try to raise taxes again to pay for their spending habits.
We have got the spending that is increasing, we have got the taxes that they are increasing, and lo and behold this week we have a bill. It is called, well, you know, I kind of forget the name of it sometimes. Employer, some kind of name they have for it, or Card Check. I actually, Madam Speaker, prefer to call it the Worker Intimidation Act. I think it is a very fitting name for this legislation because it is not employee friendly, it is not security friendly, it is not job friendly. What it does allow is intimidation. And I find it so unfortunate that we see that embodied in this piece of legislation. I had read a poll that had taken place over the weekend, and it seems that most Americans, about nine out of 10 Americans, agree with me on this issue, Madam Speaker. What we see is that most people agree that an employee should be able to have a secret ballot. That it is something that as our Secretary of Labor has said, it is an intrinsic right. It is something that we hold very, very dear, the right to cast that ballot, to express our opinion, and to do it without fear and to do it without intimidation. Every worker deserves the right to cast their ballot and express their opinion.
So this Card Check bill, we are going to hear more about this this hour as we talk about the actions that have been taken and as we talk about the consequences that those actions have on the productivity of this Nation, the actions that those have on those consequences that affect this Nation's health and its economy.
At this time I would like to yield to the gentleman from Georgia as he is joining us in this Republican Study Committee hour to talk about this issue and the Republican Study Committee.
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Mrs. BLACKBURN. Yes. That is one of the things we have seen with these unintended consequences or maybe intended consequences, because we know for the liberal elite, you can never pay enough tax. And one of the things when somebody says, well, we need to be taxing somebody more, I say, you know what, walk on up here, write out a check for what you think you owe and put it in the box. And I will offer to Madam Speaker and my colleagues, I have never had anybody say, ``I am not paying enough.'' I have never had one single person offer to write out that check and give the government a little bit more. But it is so easy to say, pay more, when it's not you, it's not me, it's the guy behind the tree. And that, many times, is where they go, always wanting more money, because government never gets enough of your money. They always want more. They think they have a better idea. They think they're smarter. They think they're brighter. They think that they know more than anybody else. And the liberal elites do that.
We can go back and look at the beginning of the Federal income tax in 1913. It started in February 1913. Just 1 percent. Just on the few millionaires in the country to make them pay for a war. And look where it got us. And with the AMT, it was just going to be on 28 people, just for a little while, just to get a little bit more out of their pocket. And now, as you said, estimates of 30 million Americans, men and women who are both working in order to be able to provide for their children and their families so that they have that little piece of the American Dream. And then they are affected by the AMT. They are affected by the small business tax that has been paid, going to take another $45 million out of their pocket. They are affected by H.R. 2, that minimum wage bill, that is going to put another $17 billion worth of mandates on them. We see it just never stops. You give them an inch, they're going to take a mile. And it is the hang onto your wallet Congress. They just are coming for everybody's wallet and can't get to it fast enough.
We want everyone to stay in touch with us on this issue, and as I yield to the gentleman, I would like to call attention to our poster there so they can stay in touch with us on the Card Check bill and on different issues that are coming before us.
I yield to the gentleman from Georgia.
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Mrs. BLACKBURN. I think that what we are hearing from the other side, they think that they have a perfect piece of legislation. It probably in their minds would be something that they considered to be perfect. As I said, they name it the Employee Choice or something but it is indeed the Worker Intimidation bill, and they don't want anybody to really bring this, they want it on and off the floor as fast as they can get it.
One of the questions that we are asked a lot is wouldn't this give employees more choice over their employment decisions? And we know that the answer to that is a big ``no.'' It will not. It is going to have the opposite effect.
We know that just as they don't want a lot of discussion on this floor about this bill, they don't want employees to have more choice and more freedom in how they choose to construct their work situations.
I would like to yield to the chairman of the Republican Study Committee, Mr. Hensarling from Texas, who is joining us. Again, anyone who would like to be in contact with us and talk about what they are seeing in the workplace, talk about the increased taxes that the Democrats have brought forward, talk about the increased spending that our Democratic colleagues have brought forward, we would encourage them to be in touch with us at email@example.com.
At this time I yield to the gentleman from Texas.
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Mrs. BLACKBURN. I thank the gentleman from Texas for those well-structured remarks. Again, we are talking about a bill, a piece of legislation that would be a big win for big labor. It is something that they have wanted for a long time. It is something that they have said would strengthen them, the labor union, and, as my colleague from Texas said, the labor union bosses. This is where they want to go to build some power, to have access to those paychecks and access to the information of what their members are doing.
Now, we have a couple of documents that some of our friends may want to actually log on and get. Again, at www.house.gov/hensarling/rsc, you can come to these documents and pull them down. One is the card check issue, the end of secret ballots in America. I think this is very instructive.
It is important for individuals to read, and as my colleague from Texas said, are Members of Congress ready to do away with secret ballots in their elections? If it is good enough for the American worker, should it be considered for Members of Congress?
Now, in this document that I have just shown you, there is a list of groups that are opposed to card check and a list of groups that support it. Those that support it are ACORN, AFL-CIO, Americans for Democratic Action, Center for American Progress, Council on American Islamic Relations, the Democratic Leadership Council, the Democratic National Committee, Earthwatch, Human Rights Watch, NAACP, Sierra Club, Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations in Washington, DC, and UNITE HERE!
Now, the groups that are in opposition to the card check proposal, the American Hospital Association, the American Hotel and Lodging Association, Associated Builders & Contractors, Associated General Contractors, Independent Electrical Contractors, International Council of Shopping Centers, International Food Service Distributors' Association, International Franchise Association, National Association of Manufacturers, National Restaurant Association, National Retail Federation, Printing Industries of America, U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
I also have in front of me the statement that has come to us from the Fraternal Order of Police. The
Fraternal Order of Police in this great Nation stands against the card check bill. They are not for this, and their national president has called on Congress to reject the bill.
A couple things I would like to read to be certain that we get these in the Record, because the men and women who are members of our local law enforcement communities are there on the front line every single day defending our streets and our communities and keeping our homeland safe.
I think that it is worthy that we listen to them and that we heed what they tell us. There is some wisdom in the thoughts that they present to us. I am quoting from this press release. It says, ``The legislation as proposed would replace the current democratic process of secret ballots with the card check system that invites coercion and abuse.''
Under this process, the identity of workers who signed or refused to sign union organizing cards would be made public to the union organizers as well as to the workers' employer and coworkers, leaving these individuals vulnerable to threats and intimidation from union leaders, management or both.
The most common method for determining whether or not employees want a union to represent them is a private ballot election overseen by the National Labor Relations Board.
Then going on further and quoting from Mr. Canterbury's release, without the anonymity of the secret ballot, the FOP would probably not exist today. The only way to guarantee worker protection from coercion and intimidation is through the continued use of secret ballot elections so that personal decisions about whether to join a union remain private.
That is just comments from one of the organizations that understand how harmful this piece of legislation, the card check bill, or, as I have called it, the worker intimidation bill, would be on our Nation's business structure. This is something that we need to think very, very carefully about.
Another document that I would love to call attention to, from our Republican Study Committee, and, again, send us your thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org, and you can go to our Web site, www.house.gov/hensarling/rsc, and you can pull this information down. But it is a Q&A on the card check issue, with some of the myths and some of the facts, the rights and the wrongs that spell this out, what it would mean to our Nation's law enforcement community, what it would mean to our Nation's business community.
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Mrs. BLACKBURN. I thank the gentleman from Texas.
And, Madam Speaker, as he said, it took 2 days to go about raising spending. Within a couple of weeks taxes were raised. We have seen those taxes be raised on the American worker to the tune of $32 billion that the Democrat majority has passed since taking control as the majority party in this body; $32 billion in tax increases. We have seen spending increased. And now what we are seeing is within the first couple of months they are going to come along and they are going to compromise the workplace. And they are going to push a piece of legislation on the American worker that the American worker does not want.
And again, looking at the poll that I have quoted from, when you ask the question, tell me if you agree or disagree with the following statement, every worker should continue to have the right to a federally supervised secret ballot election when deciding whether to organize a union, and nearly 9 out of 10 individuals think that the worker deserves that right.
You know, Madam Speaker, it is so interesting. We have moved away from the days of coercion and intimidation and union bosses that would beat up on people. That is how the National Labor Relations Board came about, when people sought to have relief from that type of coercive, intimidating activity that would strike fear in the hearts of families and fear in the hearts of workers.
And how sad, how very, very sad that in this year and in this time, and in this 110th Congress, we would take steps that would return to those ways that would limit the freedom of men and women who have chosen a profession, chosen a career, chosen a job that they want to perform and would place them under the heavy-handed fist of a union boss who would seek to challenge their viability in the workplace and who would seek to challenge their freedom.
It is my hope that more of our Members will become familiar with the statistics on this issue, and the desires of the American people, and will realize there is nothing in this legislation that speaks to free choice at all. That is a fancy, dressed-up name for card check, which is a fancy, dressed-up name for a return to worker intimidation and coercion. And it is unfortunate that we see it happening here in this body.
One of the things that we do, that we put a focus on when we talk about our job here and our work here, and those of us in the Republican Study Committee as we gather and we talk, we talk a lot, Madam Speaker, about what are we going to do to preserve this great union. What are we going to do to protect its sovereignty? What are we going to do to extend individual freedoms? How do we make decisions that are going to be so that we are certain that we extend the opportunity for prosperity to future generations?
And I can honestly say, increasing government spending doesn't do that. Increasing taxes on our families does not do that. Increasing taxes on our children and increasing the debt that they are going to bear does not do that.
History shows us that when you create a government program, a government program continues to grow. I have said many times on this floor, as Ronald Reagan said, there is nothing so close to eternal life on Earth as a Federal Government program.
We have 141 programs that we would like to see eliminated or reduced this year. Unfortunately, we don't see that happening. What we do see happening is they are increasing your taxes, they are increasing spending, and now they are going to limit your freedom in the workplace.
And I yield to the gentleman from Texas.
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Mrs. BLACKBURN. Madam Speaker, reclaiming my time, I thank the gentleman. As he has pointed out, in the 2006 budget we had reduced spending by $40 billion. It was called the Deficit Reduction Act, a first step. Our colleagues across the aisle immediately increased spending in what was to have been a continuing resolution.
Then we look at taxes. We reduced taxes, which stimulated the growth of the economy and growth of jobs. Our colleagues across the aisle have already raised taxes by $32 billion.
And as my colleague from Texas said, we have more workers than ever in the American workforce at this point in time. There are more Americans than ever holding a job and getting a paycheck. And over the past 4 years, we have seen the addition of 7.2 million new jobs to the U.S. economy. Now, these are not new hires. These are new jobs, newly created jobs. And, Madam Speaker, I think that that is important for us to put the attention on. These are jobs where a business owner sits down and says, ``I can create a new position. We have our taxes down. We have seen some regulatory relief. We are doing well. We see growth in this business. We see a future that indicates growth.'' So they create a new position, and they hire someone to fill that position. That is how we get business growth. That is how we get business expansion.
And now we find that on top of increasing spending and on top of increasing taxes, our friends across the aisle are saying, We want to let the union bosses get another hit at those workers. We want to take away the workers' right to a secret ballot. We want to infringe on that freedom in the workplace that American workers enjoy that was a hard-fought battle decades ago, and we want to compromise that and give big labor a win.''
And that, Madam Speaker, is how the liberal elites couch this battle. It is, as was said in the letter that I read, a return to coercion and intimidation. It is something that in the 21st century we should not do. I do personally consider it an inappropriate step for this House. This House should be focused on how do we expand freedom? How do we expand hope? How do we expand opportunity? And how do we make certain that every man, woman, and child has their shot at the American Dream in a safe, free, and productive country.