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Mr. CARTER. I thank my friend Virginia Foxx for getting up here and kind of giving us some indication of what we mean by PAYGO. That's a very confusing word. Been hearing it a lot. I haven't seen anything, pay or go, since they've been talking about it. But we seem to be pretty good at spending money around here and don't seem to be very good at paying for it.
Just a thought here. We had a stimulus package that was over a trillion dollars, and I believe that was borrowed money. We have a budget that increased our taxes by $1.4 trillion over the next 10 years. So, that's money they're coming after to pay for it. But I don't think that pays for that $1 trillion.
Their appropriations request increased all the nondefense spending by 12 percent this year. The number of months that jobs have grown under the Democrats since we got started this year is a whopping zero.
So they were talking about why were we asking today on the floor of the House, Where are the jobs? I get really excited about green jobs and green energy and the things that people talk about.
I heard our colleagues in the previous conversation, one of them show us a map of the United States and he said this would create 250,000 new green jobs. I think that's fabulous. It's just unfortunate in the last month and a half we've lost 1.2 million jobs in the United States. So they've got to have a comparison.
The conversation that was going on the previous hour was about energy independence. And I'm for energy independence. And any American that's got any sense at all is for energy independence.
I once asked a man how big an array of solar panels would it take to power Austin, Texas. This man was a physicist at the University of Texas--to power Austin, Texas, for a period of time, and what would that period of time be. He said a proper-sized panel in a non-air conditioned time--and you know in Texas it's hot, so air conditioning is our biggest problem, not heat--in a non-air conditioned time, a properly sized panel could power Austin, Texas, for about an 18-hour period of time before the Sun went down and the power went away. And then you would have to have an alternative power to power it during the night, or storage capacity, which our friends were talking about.
So I said, Well, that doesn't sound too big. How big would that panel be? He said, Approximately the size of the Panhandle of Texas, which is about 280, maybe 300 miles long and about 150 miles wide.
I'm not saying solar is not a solution. But are you going to replace the coal-produced power in Pennsylvania with a solar panel in today's world--and do it economically? No. But it will help, and we can help on an individual basis and we can power businesses with it.
Let's be realistic about energy, and let's go after every form of energy and clean up that energy. That's the solution to our problems. That's a real energy plan.
You know, we in Texas have been having an abundance of natural gas for a long time. We're real proud of our natural gas. We think it's good stuff. Burns clean and we like it. A lot of our folks up here on the East Coast, they didn't like our natural gas until they found some. All of a sudden, guess what? They found some gas shale, a lot of gas shale in the State of Pennsylvania, and I'm hearing an awful lot of colleagues that a year and a half ago were bad mouthing natural gas saying, Natural gas sounds good. I'm with Boone Pickens. Let's power our automobiles with natural gas. Let's produce natural gas. And, rightfully so, they should be proud of their resources. I'm not knocking their resources. I'm proud they've got it. And I predict that there's shale gas that spreads from Pennsylvania all the way down to Fort Worth, Texas. And I think the geologists will prove it. There's a lot of natural gas in that shale. And we ought to use it. And that's how we free ourselves of foreign oil.
We free ourselves by drilling offshore in a clean drilling procedure, which we have. And we haven't spilled a drop of oil in a drilling procedure in 15 years in the seas. All of our spills you read about are shipping spills, not drilling spills.
So let's go out and seek our energy where it is, and let's create our alternative energy, wind and solar, and let's not forget nuclear, the cleanest energy out there.
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Mr. CARTER. Yes. Reclaiming my time, I do not claim to be a physicist, but I have talked with people in the power industry, and because it is not a continuing flow of power but it is an alternating form of power, to make it effective over a 24-hour period, 365 days a year, the power has to be boosted. It's the only way it can be effectively done.
I'm not saying it's not going to be a good source of power. Actually, what's kind of interesting is most projections as to what percentage of our overall national power, wind and solar combined--actually, wind, solar, and hydroelectric combined, would be between 6 and 10 percent.
At maximum effectiveness--and, by the way, there's a lot of folks that have a lot of Texas envy in this world, and they are always picking on us like we don't know anything but oil and gas. Let me make this very clear: We have the largest wind farm in America in the State of Texas. The city of Austin has the largest municipally-owned wind power farm of any municipality in the United States. And, by the way, they are very disappointed.
It was on the front page of the Austin American-Statesman less than 3 or 4 days ago that the wind farm seems to be an unreliable source of power for them. Even though it's a green source and they've been very proud of being the greenest city in America because of that wind, but over liability and this same different flux of power issue, the only way it can be reliable is you put a gas-powered generator right side by side to keep the flow going. So that's not saying I'm not for it, but I'm saying the reality is we're a long way from replacing the massive amount of power that it takes to run this machine called America from wind and solar power.
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Mr. CARTER. That's a good point to look at this chart that another one of my colleagues prepared. He calls it, ``Oh, my,'' OMI, the Obama Misery Index. Those of us who have been around a while remember that the misery index was first created back during the Jimmy Carter administration and was about the misery that was coming upon people by the economic woes of the country. It's basically a combination of unemployment--that's the loss of jobs--and the accumulation of public debt.
Now, as my colleague from North Carolina pointed out, there seems to be an overwhelming trend in this House to blame everything on the Bush administration. So let's just assume for the
sake of assumption--because remember, Obama got elected and sworn in as President in the latter part of January, and so we'll just make February the leftover Bush stuff because that's the next month, and I would say it's a carryover. So the misery index was 11.6 percent. The blue indicates the unemployment numbers, and the red indicates the public debt, how much we owe to other people or to ourselves.
In March, the next month of the Obama administration, we see that our unemployment has risen to what looks to be about 13 percent and our public debt has increased by, I don't know, another 10 percent, something like that. So 21.7 percent in March, from 11.6 to 21.7. In April it jumps to 28 percent, and look at the public debt, and look at the unemployment that's there. The unemployment is the huge figure here. They wonder why we are saying, ``Where are the jobs?''
Look. Wait a minute. Here is May. It has a 36.2 percent misery index. Look at the unemployment figures. They're getting off the page here. This month, 40.6 percent--oh, my, OMI, Obama Misery Index. And look at the unemployment figures, and look at the national public debt. This is just 5 months of the Obama administration. We have gone from a misery index of 11.6 to 40.6.
So somebody says, Why are you asking the question, ``Where are the jobs?'' Well, because unemployment went from 9 percent--it looks like about 9, wouldn't you say--right there to 30 percent, roughly, 31 percent on the index. That's not the percentage of unemployment, but that's the increase.
Now, there's a real good reason because we're asking, ``Where are the jobs?'' I did a telephone town hall tonight, and I got to talk to some real fine people. I actually had kind of an unusual thing.
Junction, Texas, is out west of San Antonio. It's not in my district. In fact, I believe it's in Congressman Ciro Rodriguez's district or it's in Lamar Smith's district, but it's not in my district. But the lady who was talking to me, her phone was registered in Temple, Texas, but she was calling from Junction. How that happened on my telephone town hall is anybody's guess. I don't know. I didn't try to figure it out. But I called a number in my district, and I got a lady in Junction. You go figure. I don't know how it worked; all right?
But the lady had something interesting to say. She said, by some people's analysis, we'd probably be one of those rich small businesses that are going to have to pay taxes under this new health care plan.
But although we may handle a lot of livestock and a lot of cash temporarily, the reality is I'd say we're in the category of folks that are just barely scratching through the drought to get by. And what we realize as something we can live on is very meager, along with me and my family and my boys, who are also in our ranching business with us. We get by on a meager amount.
She said, sir, I'm worried that somebody thinks we're rich enough that they're going to put a 1 percent surtax on our small business, which is a ranch.
Now, not everybody lives in Texas and lives in the Southwest, and they may hear the word ``drought'' and think they understand what drought means. But in Texas, we know what drought means because we've lived through a period of time, back in the late 1940s and early 1950s that they wrote a book about it, ``The Time It Never Rained.'' And, in fact, it didn't rain. And cows ate prickly pear cactus, and ranchers went out with burning torches and burned the thorns off the prickly pear cactus so that the cattle would have something to eat, because there was no grass.
And the hard tack folks that settled west Texas and central Texas worked from sunup to sundown and into the night burning what we call burning pear, burning prickly pear so their cattle wouldn't get those thorns in their lips and get infected, and they wouldn't get screw worms and the other things that were the blight of the 1950s until we were able to eradicate that problem. We know what hard times is in Texas because we've been in hard times.
And right now, we're going through a drought. Lake Travis, which is just about 40 miles as the crow flies from my house, is a huge lake. Right now it's a pond. We've got islands everywhere on it. It's the lowest it's ever been in memory, they tell me. I haven't been out to see it because I'm afraid I'd get too upset looking at it. But the LCRA tells me they're in terrible shape for water.
That lady living out in Junction, Texas, she's in terrible shape for water. And so she says to me, sir, not only am I worried about them taking my health plan away from me, making me go on some government plan I don't want to be on, but they're talking about taxing me as if I'm rich, when I'm not. I've got a family, my family and my two boys, or three boys' families running out of this ranch operation, and we're fighting the drought, and we're short on water. And we're losing livestock.
And I said, ma'am, I understand.
She said, that's not all. What they're doing with the fuel of this country, what they're doing with their cap-and-tax scheme that they've got there, I think that's going to make the cost of my farm fuel and my ranch fuel go up, and I'm worried. We cannot survive our fertilizer going up and our fuel going up, all of which comes from the petroleum industry. We can't afford it. We just can't survive it.
And why do they want to do that to us? What did we do to them?
I said, ma'am, I hear you. I'm sorry. You know, all my life I've lived under a system that I believe in. I still believe in it. I think it's important that the rule of law prevail in a constitutional system of government. I think the rule of law is as sacred to democracy and to our Republic as the Constitution is to that Republic, and as the Holy Book is to the church.
And it is imperative to every American that we support the rule of law. It should be sacred to us that says--we say this, I think it is the Rotary Club, but it may be another one of the clubs that says, before their club--we are a Nation of laws, not of men. I think that is extremely important for us to remember as Americans. We are a Nation of laws.
These laws are created by this body and other bodies at the State level. Those laws are not to be circumvented; and no man, no matter how high a rate, how much of the population votes for him, how many people love him, or think he's the greatest, or her, and think they're the greatest thing since sliced bread, they don't have the right nor the ability, nor should we allow them to circumvent our laws because of their programs.
It is our American responsibility to uphold the law. For 20 years I served as a judge of the highest trial court in Texas, at the State level. I did my best to uphold the law. Those laws were written in books, and they were passed by the Texas legislature and they're passed by the United States Congress, and we tried our best to uphold those laws.
The Supreme Court and the court of criminal appeals told us, interpreted the laws for us in Texas and in the United States. And we, as a court, tried our best to follow that direction from our court system, because the rule of law has to prevail.
I am very concerned, and I express this tonight, that procedures and rules are as important to an institution as anything else that there is, because they are the standard by which a group of free men and women decided to govern themselves by law.
Thomas Jefferson, a man held in highest regard, and at least many Democrats call the Founder of their party, even though he called his party the Republican Party at the time. But times change. Thomas Jefferson wrote rules for this House. And one of the rules has been repeated by our President of the United States. We're going to give--and I would point out, our Speaker of the House, when she came in and took her oath and told us how this Congress was going to operate, she said, We will give this Congress every time at least 72 hours to examine a piece of legislation.
Thomas Jefferson said 3 days for any piece of legislation before it's voted on. It should be given to both sides for their examination and preparation for debate. And that 3 days did not include Saturday and Sunday. That's what he--when he wrote the rules for this House, which were followed religiously, I guess you'd say for years and years and
years, decades, that's the tradition of this House. And it has been waived for every major piece of legislation since Barack Obama has been elected President.
As was pointed out on the last piece of legislation we had by John Boehner right here on the floor of this House, they dropped 350 pages of amendments to the cap-and-tax bill at 2 o'clock in the morning to be voted on the next day. And that meant that we hadn't seen a completed bill, even at that point in time. And we voted on it the next day.
I'm not here to cry about procedures. I play under the rules that their Rules Committee writes. But I want you to know, when your historical procedures, as American people, are circumvented by this House consistently, every time, you should be concerned about those who do not follow the established rule of law. This should be a concern of the American people.
When the President of the United States and his White House friends go strong-arm the automobile companies into making a deal that circumvents the laws of this land, there's something wrong. And creditors' rights are established laws of this land. And yet the bankruptcy court was perfectly willing to let the parties make an agreement. But the parties were strong-armed by the politicians in the White House, strong-armed and threatened to the point that preferred creditors gave up their rights under the law out of fear, and the preferred creditors became, their rights went to the unpreferred creditors, the labor unions.
Now we have the Government Motors--we used to call it General Motors--that is owned by the Federal Government and by the labor unions, and those people who loaned money as secured creditors for years to General Motors had to take pennies on the dollar because they were strong-armed beyond the rule of law.
I'm sorry. That's not right. If we don't stand for anything in this House, if we let our people down on every vote, if we don't try our best to stand up for the rule of law, then we ought to be ashamed of ourselves. I don't care what party you're in. I respect my colleagues on the other side of the aisle, and in fact, many of them stand up and speak out for many of the things that I stand up and speak out for. I'm not saying this to point the finger at politics. Let's throw politics out the door right now. Let's talk about what our Founding Fathers intended for us to do if we are going to keep this Republic together.
They expect us to set rules and to follow them. They expect us to honor contracts between people. Now, you say to yourself, Well, sure, we honor contracts between people, but I don't know about those big corporations. You know, they're so evil. Maybe we shouldn't have to respect those people.
So, if at a time when the price of oil was $6 a barrel, if the Clinton administration had said, We need to get some money into these coffers here, so we're going to sell some offshore leases, and we really will give you a good deal on these offshore leases if you'll buy them, even though we know you're not going to produce them at $6 a barrel, oil companies would have said, Okay. We'll buy them. They'd buy these offshore leases, pay money for them, continue to pay money for them as the leases progress. Then, lo and behold, the price of oil goes to $100 a barrel or to $80 a barrel. Guess what? They start producing oil out there, and we have those people in this House who say that's an excess in profit, although the Federal Government got what it contracted for, and the oil companies got what they contracted for.
We believe in the sanctity of contracts whether they be between corporations, governments or people. It's what keeps the glue together in our society. Yet we are willing to say we don't care what the contract says; we want it renegotiated, and we're going to put economic pressure on you to do it. That's not the way we are supposed to act. We are supposed to hold the contract sacred, because, in reality, what created our Nation was a contract, a contract called the Constitution of the United States, where the States got together and said we will surrender our sovereignty in a bargain to protect us in our national defense, to work out our disputes of commerce and to make this country one Nation, gathered together from 13 colonies, from 13 States.
That contract is sacred, and every contract that comes therefrom is sacred. Now, if we don't like it, change the law. That's fine. We can do that. But I am concerned when we use the power of political might to strong-arm people out of their rights and out of the laws of our country. If the Republicans do it, I'm going to be just as mad at them as I am at anybody else. It's not a political thing. It's about what is right and what is wrong.
If we don't have rules, if we don't have rules we hold sacred, we are bound for destruction. We've got plenty of issues to keep us busy in worrying about our country without trying to change the rules of the game. Maybe people think that guy's half crazy, standing up there, talking about that stuff, but you know, I believe in this stuff. I believe passionately in the American people, in the Constitution and in the history of this country. You can rewrite it all you want to. It is what it is, and what makes us noble, what makes us fine, what makes us exceptional is that we are willing, for the good of the Nation, to hold certain things important, and I would say the rule of law is what separates us.
I'll tell you a story. I had the opportunity to go with the Foreign Operations Committee down to a very lovely country, to Nicaragua in Central America. When I grew up, and in my college days, I lived with a bunch of ranching boys out in West Texas, and visited several of their operations out there. Being a native Texan, you know, we're all kind of caught up in the magic of ranch life, so I learned a little bit about what good-looking country looks like and what grass looks like and the cattle elite. I looked for how much water is out there that's available for livestock. I looked at Nicaragua and the part of Nicaragua that I went to, and I thought, man, this is some good-looking cattle country. Boy, a fellow could really raise a lot of nice cattle in this country. There's plenty of water. You could even irrigate because they've got water that's less than 18 feet under the ground. Now, you don't drink that water, but you could irrigate with it.
So I started asking the question: Why are these poor folks having such a hard time economically? Do you know why? Because they've never quite established the rule of law. In fact, they don't even have land titles in Nicaragua.
One of the things that they're trying to do with our foreign aid is to somehow establish a method of land titles, a method of saying you bought it; here is your title; you own it, and you can sell it to the next guy. Instead, they have to worry which regime is in power in Nicaragua as to whether or not they get to keep their land. So, after a while, after 100 years of a system like that, people start to not really invest too much in their land because you never know whose land it's going to be next year.
We have the rule of law. We have land titles. We know when we buy our homes, when we pay for them, when they're free and clear, and when our debts are off of them that we own that piece of ground and whatever's on top of it, and we can pass that on to our children. That can be part of our accumulated wealth, which makes the next generation healthier, richer and more prosperous. They don't have that ability, and yet they've got a beautiful place and the potential. What's missing? The rule of law.
It's sad. It's sad to think that a bunch of nice people who need to make that country work are limited by the fact that men and their political strengths are overpowering what they should have, which is the rule of law. I do not mean this as any criticism of the country of Nicaragua, and I hope it's our goal as Americans to try to help them establish the rule of law, especially the rule of land titles. I think it's important. My point is, our forefathers gave us that blessing. When we count our blessings, sometimes we forget that some of it is right there in that constitutional document that we have.
You know, I had somebody from Dell Computer tell me that they--what they
have to sell is what's in their minds, what they have created from their brains. Guess whose country wrote it into their founding document that your intellectual property belongs to you? The United States of America. It is in our Constitution that what you create with your creativity belongs to you and you have an ownership right in it and you can enforce it in a courtroom. The rest of the world is coming around to that.
But what we have been given are so many blessings by forward-thinking people in our past, and I'm here tonight, as we talk about all of these issues of the economy and what's going on, don't let us forget that that is not a country of men. This is a country of laws. And the way we operate on this floor of this House and the way we operate at the courthouse and the way we operate as human beings is governed by the rule of law. And if we ever lose that, we lose our country.
We've got lots of issues going on right now. We've got health care. We've got this cap-and-trade or cap-and-tax bill that's supposed to be protecting the environment. We've got runaway spending. We've got mounds of debt that's mounting up in every direction. The debt figure is unbelievable. And all of these things should be dealt with through this body and its democracy and its democratic principles. That's the way it should be dealt with, the rule of law. And if we do that, we will have met our obligations to the people who sent us here. And I challenge both sides to let the rule of law reign here. Let's don't change the rules. Let's don't stop debate. Let's talk.
Everybody says we need bipartisanship. How can you have bipartisanship if one side writes a 2,000-page bill and the other side doesn't get to do anything but say, ``Yes, I like it'' or ``No, I don't''? How in the world is that bipartisan?
I think our Founding Fathers really thought that you are going to have liberals over here and conservatives over here and you're going to try to address an issue and you're going to sit down at a table and you're going to talk about what you can and can't do, and you're going to come up with a solution. I think that's what they thought we were going to do. We're not doing it right now. And I do honestly believe it would work, and I think there are an awful lot of people that sit in this room every day that feel the same way.
Let's have the courage to do that. Let's follow the direction of our Forefathers. Let's remember our history, and let's start talking to each other instead of imposing our will, one group of men and women imposing their will on another group of men and women. I really don't think that's what we intended when this House was created.
We like to say this is the greatest deliberative body in the world. It is the cradle of the democracy. It's the cradle of freedom, that liberty was born here and thrives here. Well, if liberty's born here and thrives here, it's up to us to continue to keep her breathing and keep her thriving. And I don't believe we do it by ignoring the rules or changing the rules. I believe we do it by working together to come up with solutions.
And probably kind of like the good verdict you get in the courtroom, if you give a verdict in the courtroom and both sides are not completely happy, you've probably got the best verdict you ever could create. But if you've got a verdict that only one side gets everything and the other side gets nothing, it probably wasn't the right thing, nine times out of ten. I was always happy if both sides walked out mad at me. I figured we did a pretty good job because at least both sides had some give-and-take in what happened in the courtroom.
That's where we ought to be in here. When it's over with, both sides ought to say, We didn't get all our way but at least we got something done and we didn't impose the will of man over the rule of law.
I guess I just felt like preaching this late at night. And that's probably enough of all of that.
I do ask that the people back home--I know we're not supposed to address the people back home, but I will say that every man and woman in this House are addressing life-changing issues now and will be in the very near future, that the amount of accumulated job loss and debt is getting critical for all of us whether we are in this House or whether we are at home, and let's all try to work together to come up with something that will work.
And with that, Mr. Speaker, I will yield back the balance of my time.