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Public Statements

Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2008

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. SCHIFF. Mr. Chairman, I rise in opposition to the amendment but I thank the gentleman for offering it, because it reminds us of what this debate is really about. We are debating about whether we will invest in America's future. We are debating what kind of a Nation we expect to be.

My chairman, fellow committee members of both parties, and the vast majority of people around the country believe in America's future. We believe that America's best days are ahead of us. We believe that the American people can compete and succeed in the global economy, and that the most talented, industrious, and ingenious people on Earth are the American people. And we believe that, to ensure our bright future, we must invest in the American people today.

The America we see ahead of us is one where every child has the opportunity to go to college regardless of whether their parents did and regardless of whether they are rich or poor. They receive the best job training, develop the strongest skills, are empowered to create by laws that reward innovation, and have a government that is working for them, not against them, in foreign markets.

In the America we see, every child and their parents has access to decent health care, and no one working full time, playing by the rules and contributing to the prosperity of the country, has to become impoverished because of the catastrophic illness in the family. No parent should have to mourn the loss of a child it could not provide health care for, and no child should grow up in a home without one of its parents for lack of the same access to care.

For our parents' generation, this vision of America's future resembles their own fondest hopes. Our parents and their parents struggled so that we could enjoy a higher quality of living, better schools, better hospitals, and a safer world than what they knew. And, by and large, this greatest generation was successful. America is a better, more prosperous Nation because of their struggle.

But the generations that went before us did more than struggle; they also invested. They built schools, they built hospitals, they built our Armed Forces, and they invested in America's future. If America is to enjoy the same bright future we have in mind, that investment must go on.

Fortunately, this vision of an America where our best days are still ahead of us is a bipartisan vision. It crosses every economic, political, and generational line. We all want and believe that we can bring about a more secure and more prosperous future for our children and grandchildren. And we believe we can do so, must do so, in a fiscally responsible way by paying as we go.

Sure, there are some who do not share these values or who believe that we can achieve this bright tomorrow without any investment, without any contribution or sacrifice on our part. They are the ``get something for nothing'' crowd, the ``I got mine, you get yours'' crowd. They do not believe America needs our investment. And the future? Well, the future can take care of itself.

Some of these naysayers you will hear from today, some you have heard from already. Masquerading under a banner of fiscal prudence they will say, ``We cannot afford the investment.'' It is a masquerade. These are the same people, of course, who drove our national debt to the highest in history through a half decade of borrowing. And theirs was the worst form of borrowing; borrowing that led to no investment and, therefore, to no improvement in the Nation's foundation.

Our parents' generation had them, too, these masqueraders, the ``something for nothing'' crowd. But just kind of imagine what kind of an America we would live in today if our predecessors had followed their irresponsible siren song. We would still be traveling along dirt roads instead of highways, with crops rotting in the fields, long-term economic stagnation, a bleak presence, and an even bleaker future. We would, in sum, have become that Nation that Franklin Roosevelt so presciently warned against, a Nation with a substantial portion of its people ill-fed, ill-clothed, ill-housed, and insecure.

It is indeed fortuitous that these voices are few now and were few then, that the overwhelming bipartisan majority of committee members and Americans recognize that we have a responsibility to our Nation's future, and that responsibility requires sound investment.

In 10 years, 2.7 million more kids will be in K-12 schools, and America will be ready for them because we insist on it. In 10 years, 2.2 million more students will be in college, and our universities will be ready for them with a state-of-the-art education because we insist on it. In 10 years, the global economy will be even more extensive and American workers will be competing and winning because we will have invested in them. And, yes, it is because we are insisting on it now.

We believe in America's future. We believe our best days are ahead of us. And we share the belief that our parents had before us that we are responsible for that bright future, and that future requires investment.

Mr. ISRAEL. Mr. Chairman, may I inquire how much time is available on both sides?

The Acting CHAIRMAN. The gentleman from New York has 9 1/2 minutes remaining, and the gentleman from Georgia has 11 minutes remaining.

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Mr. SCHIFF. Madam Chairman, will the gentleman yield?

Mr. ISRAEL. I yield to the gentleman from California.

Mr. SCHIFF. I think I may have the gentleman's answer to where was the fringe when the giveaways to the oil companies and the Halliburtons were taking place; why wasn't there an effort to cut those giveaways by 1 percent.

Those who wanted to cut those profits and those giveaways were not part of the fringe. The fringe we are talking about here today is the fringe that says we want those obscene oil company profits. We want those obscene profits for Halliburton. But we want to cut over $1 billion out of education, out of health care. That is the fringe we are talking about.

The overwhelming bipartisan majority of us want to balance the budget. We are working hard to do that. But we don't want to balance the budget on the backs of our kids and on the backs of those who need health care and on the backs of our workers who need training. And that, I think, is the fringe that we are talking about here today.

Mr. ISRAEL. I thank the gentleman.

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