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Public Statements

Stimulus Package

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

STIMULUS PACKAGE REPORT -- (Senate - February 13, 2009)


Ms. KLOBUCHAR. Mr. President, I am honored to be here to speak in favor of the economic recovery plan.

Yesterday we celebrated Abraham Lincoln's 200th birthday. As I sat there and listened to the historians talk about Abraham Lincoln's life, there was one thing that stood out to me and that is the importance of timing. They talked about when he was there in those very dark days of the Civil War, that he had to make a decision. He had to make a decision about whether he was going to sign the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing the slaves. He thought about it for awhile. He knew if he did it at one time, it would be too early, and if he waited too long, it would be bad. Finally, he signed it. The Historian said yesterday it is very possible that if he had done it 6 months earlier, we would have lost a number of States that wouldn't have been with us; and if he had done it 6 months later, we would have lost the momentum that propelled us forward to win the Civil War. It reminded me again that timing is everything and that timing matters.

This is a time to take action with our economic crisis. This is the time. With each passing day, we get more bad news: another round of layoffs, dropping consumer confidence, increasing debt. Last month, we learned the United States had lost 598,000 jobs in just 1 month--the month of January. As the President pointed out, that is basically equivalent to the total number of jobs in the State of Maine. That happened in 1 month in the United States of America.

In my home State of Minnesota, the unemployment rate rose to 6.9 percent last month. That is the highest it has been in 20 years. The national unemployment rate is now at 7.6 percent. It is across the board. Great companies in my State such as Target and Best Buy and Ameriprise are trying everything to do the right thing, but they still are having to lay off employees.

Behind all these numbers and statistics are real families. They are not just a number, such as 598,000; they are real families, people whom I have spoken to across our State; moms and dads who put their kids to sleep and then sit at the kitchen table with their heads in their hands thinking: How are we going to make it? A woman wrote me saying she got a little inheritance from her father. She was going to use it for her daughter's wedding and now she had to spend it on her own retirement because it got blown in the stock market.

As we prepare to vote on this bill, it is important to remember how we got there. Our economic crisis is a result of bad decisions on Wall Street, a result of greed, as well as the result of a failed economic policy for 8 years. There is a diner that used to be down the street from me in Minnesota. It was a motorcycle diner called Betty's Bikes and Buns. There would always be a bunch of motorcycles parked in front. There was a sign in the window that said: ``Betty's Bikes and Buns: Where lies become legends.''

Look at the past 8 years. We were told by the past administration they would create jobs. Just last month--the last month of the past administration--we lost 8,000 jobs. They told us they would restore fiscal responsibility. Well, we went from the largest budget surplus left by the Clinton administration to a record-high budget deficit left by the Bush administration. They told us they would reduce that deficit. They didn't do it. "Where lies become legends.''

The people of this country in this last election said they had enough of lies, they had enough of legends, and they wanted to see change. They wanted to put a President in who was going to tell them the truth and not sugarcoat it, not make a bunch of promises and not keep them. If we are going to get out of this crisis, we are not going to be able to rely on the ideas that got us here, as some on the other side have argued. We need a new direction and that is what this bill offers. It is not a perfect bill, but it is the first step to jolting this economy back in the right direction.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will jump-start our economy in the near term by creating jobs, but it is also going to give the people of this country something to show for their money. The legislation provides economic assistance aimed directly at Main Street. It provides economic relief to working families, small businesses, and seniors. It gives critical support to States and communities so they can ensure a safety net for families hurt by the economic downturn, and it will save or create 3.5 million jobs.

In my State of Minnesota, the projections are that this bill will create 66,000 jobs. A recent analysis concluded that the economic recovery bill could create as many as 91,000 jobs in Minnesota by 2010. Additionally, it will provide a tax cut to 95 percent of working families and offer additional unemployment benefits to so many of the people in our State who have lost their jobs.

This legislation will put Americans back to work building bridges, building roads, building schools. That is what this legislation is about. The legislation invests $116 billion in infrastructure, in science, roads, bridges, highways, and transit systems. The Federal Highway Administration estimates that for every $1 billion of highway spending, it creates nearly 35,000 jobs. We know a little bit about the need to invest in infrastructure in my State. We had a bridge that fell down right in the middle of the Mississippi River, 6 blocks from my house. As I said that day, a bridge shouldn't fall down in the middle of America. Not a six-lane highway, not a bridge 6 blocks from my house, not a bridge that my daughter travels as she rides with me and my husband every day when we go to work or go visit our friends. It shouldn't have happened.

The Federal Highway Administration estimates that more than 25 percent of the Nation's 600,000 bridges are either structurally deficient or functionally obsolete. That is the good thing about this bill. It gives us immediate short-term jobs, as well as giving us something to show for it, so that years later, when this economy is running again, we will have the bridges that will take the goods to market, the good highways, and the good rail.

This plan will also create jobs by investing $43 billion in homegrown renewable energy, creating new energy jobs across the country. As I have traveled across my State, I have seen the possibilities. I have seen the little solar panel factories. I have seen the wind turbine farms. When we had the information technology revolution--the IT revolution--it created jobs. A lot of those jobs were for people who had graduate degrees and Ph.D.s and they had to be in certain parts of the country. That is what is great about this energy technology revolution--the ET revolution. We have had experts testify before our environmental committee, and they have told us the ET revolution will create not just those Ph.D. jobs and those graduate student jobs, they will create jobs for working people, building those wind turbines, working on
It is jobs across the demographic spectrum of this country. It is green-helmet jobs, not just Ph.D. jobs.

Finally, I wish to highlight the $7 billion this plan contains for broadband for Internet and for telecommunications infrastructure. When President Roosevelt, back in 1935, looked at this country, he knew there was a problem. Only 12 percent of American farms had electricity. There we were in the middle of the Depression and only 12 percent of American farms had electricity. Now, what did he do? Did he put his head in the sand and say: Well, times are bad, we are not going to do anything? No. He said: Let's invest in some jobs, and let's invest in making things better for people so we can get this economy moving again. You know what. Fifteen years later because of rural electrification, we had about 75 percent of the farms with electricity. We went from 12 percent to 75 percent in 15 years. That is what Government action will do when it is done right.

Focusing now on the present day, in so many counties in my State we have Internet service, but it is either too slow or too expensive. This country has gone from fourth in the industrialized world for Internet service subscribership to 15th in just 8 years. How are we going to compete with countries such as Japan and India if we are going downhill, if we are nosediving when it comes to Internet service? This bill puts over $7 billion in infrastructure for Internet. In these tough economic times, broadband Internet deployment creates jobs, not only direct creation of jobs in the technology sector but also the creation of even more indirect employment opportunities by increasing access to the Internet. I want these jobs to go to Thief River Falls, MN, or to Lanesboro, MN, instead of over to India and to Japan. I want them to be in our country.

This recovery plan offers an economic one-two punch, including tax cuts that will promote more consumer and business spending by providing relief to middle-class families, small businesses, and seniors. Second, Federal spending that will create jobs and strengthen the economy with investments in transportation, renewable energy, and high-speed Internet.

The American people are tired of the lies and legends of the last 8 years.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator's time has expired.

Ms. KLOBUCHAR. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent for 30 more seconds.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

Ms. KLOBUCHAR. Mr. President, they want action. They want the truth. We literally can't afford to wait any longer to pass something.

As President Obama recently said, the time for talk is over. The time for action is now. If we don't act, a bad situation will become dramatically worse. This is our time. This is our opportunity. Let's get this passed today.

I yield the floor.


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