Our Free Enterprise System And The Role Of Big Government
Mr. SCALISE. Well, I thank the gentleman from Tennessee. I appreciate your leadership on this issue and the fact that you are willing to come here tonight and talk about some of these challenges that our country's facing. And when you look across our country today, people are facing many challenges.
But I think what's even more concerning to people when they look here in Washington, and they look at what's happening in the Congress, and they look at what this administration is doing, I think it's frightening people across the country. The fact that they see these policies that are being proposed, and some of these policies that have actually passed. In January, when President Obama took the oath of office, one of his first
steps was to pass this unprecedented spending bill that he called the stimulus bill and he rammed it through Congress, a bill that everybody knows that nobody that voted for the bill had time to read because they rammed it through so fast, because they said it needed to pass because it was going to stop unemployment from reaching 8 percent. Well, now we're at 9 1/2 percent unemployment, and that number is climbing.
The problem is our deficit is climbing even higher. We exceeded a trillion dollars in deficit just a week ago. Unprecedented in our country's history. And people are looking at that and saying, Why is it that every American family is cutting back to manage and live within their means? State governments have been cutting their budgets to live within their means. Why is it that Washington and Congress, especially, is spending money out of control at a rate that is unprecedented, and it cannot be contained?
And then they look at the policies. And I think that's what's concerning people especially today. And they look at this crazy energy proposal, this cap-and-trade energy tax and this proposal to have a government takeover of our health care system. And clearly reforms need to be made to health care, but there is bipartisan agreement on a number of reforms that can be made to allow people to have the portability so if they move from one job to another, they can take their health care with them.
But a real competition in health care or address pre-existing conditions, there is bipartisan agreement on all of those issues. Not one of those is in the President's bill because he chose to go it alone. He said, I don't need to work with Republicans. And in fact, he's not even working with moderate Democrats. He's decided to go with the most far extreme leftists that want to just have a government takeover of health care where, literally, a bureaucrat in Washington that's not elected, didn't even go through a Senate confirmation, can have the ability to tell you which doctor you can see or even if you can get an operation.
And we've seen the devastating results in countries like Canada, in England, where they've done the exact same thing. And now those people who have the means in those countries come to America to get health care. Because even with our flaws--and we've got flaws in our system that need to be worked out--but even with our flaws, we have the best medical care in the world. And yet they want to destroy that system by having a government take it over and then add $800 billion of new taxes on the backs of American families.
And if that wasn't enough, that leads us into the topic that I know my friend from Tennessee really started off talking about, and that's energy. This cap-and-trade energy tax that actually passed this House, and I sit on the Energy and Commerce Committee and we debated that for weeks, and I strongly opposed their bill because their bill doesn't address the energy problems in our country. We don't have an energy policy in America. Imagine that. The greatest country in the history of the world, the most industrialized nation in the world, doesn't have a true energy policy. We've got the ability to create a comprehensive energy policy that actually eliminates our dependence on Middle Eastern oil. And we filed a bill.
Some people would lead you to believe there is no alternative out there. It's just this cap-and-trade energy tax or nothing.
Well, there is a different approach. There was an approach called the American Energy Act, which I'm proud to be a co-sponsor of. I know my friend from Tennessee is a cosponsor of. It's an all-of-the-above policy. It says yes, we should pursue those alternative sources of energy like wind and solar power. But unfortunately, those technologies aren't advanced enough yet. You can't run your car or house on wind or solar. You surely couldn't run a hospital on wind and solar because they're intermittent sources of energy, and so you need some other forms to keep power generating in this country. And so yes, you have coal production and we should advance the technologies to make clean coal technology.
But you also need advance nuclear power; nuclear power emits zero carbon. It's a zero carbon emission source of energy. Eighty percent of Europe is on nuclear power now. It wasn't on their bill. They discouraged it. We need to move towards those other alternatives.
We also need to recognize the existing types of energies we have in our country, and that's oil and natural gas. It's also some of the new sources and technologies that we have, like these tar sands in the Midwest which right now are prohibited from being explored by Federal policy. In fact, if you go into the Gulf of Mexico, there are many areas there where there are huge reserves of oil and natural gas that are banned from even being explored.
I've taken a few Members out to the Gulf of Mexico a few weeks ago. We went out to the largest natural gas exploration facility in the country. It's called Independence Hub. Nine hundred million cubic feet of gas a day. Actually represents 2 percent of our entire country's natural gas needs. It's out there in the Gulf of Mexico, and they have greater capacity. In fact, we keep finding more and more reserves of natural gas every day. In north Louisiana, I'm proud to have gone out and visited the area in Shreveport, Louisiana, called Hainesville. Hainesville shale find is the largest new find of natural gas in our country's history. It was just found 3 years ago, and we continue to find more and more reserves like that.
So there are all kind of natural resources that our country can use, and yet Federal policy blocks it. And the only answer President Obama gives us is this cap-and-trade energy tax--which actually limits our ability to explore American resource of energy and gives greater power to those oil OPEC barons in Saudi Arabia and other countries in the Middle East that don't like our way of life. So we've got to get a comprehensive energy policy, and we've got to move away from this idea of taxing businesses, taxing families, raising electricity costs--which their bill does--and go to a policy that adopts a comprehensive, all-of-the-above approach.
So here at this time I'm going to yield back to my friend from Tennessee. But we're talking in the same week that Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin and Collins landed on the Moon, the Apollo 11 mission. The 40th anniversary this week. I had the honor of meeting them. True American heroes. When I talked to Neil Armstrong earlier this week, what I told him was, What you did, what your crew did and what all of the NASA officials did, they inspired a Nation because they showed us what the greatness of America can be if we truly set our minds in a bipartisan way. And back then under President Kennedy when he said and set that objective that we were going to go to the Moon by the end of the 1960s, the entire country came together, Republicans and Democrats. We can do that again.
But President Obama's got to set aside the bipartisanship and this extreme radical policy, and we can get there.
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