Freedom Of Speech
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Mr. CARTER. Mr. Speaker, I rise tonight to sort of do a continuation of a theme that I have been discussing, but this one has gotten to the point where I'm very concerned about the seriousness of the offense.
We talked about failure of certain Members of Congress to pay their taxes, failure of Members of Congress to not disclose the influence peddling that is going on. We've talked about a lot of things. Last week we talked about the rule of law and how many are trying to circumvent the rule of contract.
In fact, I read today in the Wall Street Journal that the compensation czar is going to renegotiate the contracts. I assume that means strong-arm the parties to renegotiate the contracts on certain compensation packages; and however offended we may be by compensation packages, there are certain rules of contract that should be honored. That is one of the backbones of our Nation's freedom is that we have the right to make a deal and then be bound by it. But that's a different subject.
Tonight I want to talk about a subject that I think that if this doesn't concern people back home, if this doesn't concern the Members of this body, then I don't really know what will.
It is because the issue we are talking about here is something that is the beginning of tyranny, and it is something we should all be very concerned about, and that is when a political group starts to step on the free speech rights of others in this Nation.
Now, you may feel like this is a position that I am taking that is untenable, but I am going to tell you that 652,000 people in the various districts, and most of the districts in my State have grown to a million now, send a person to Washington, D.C., to speak and to communicate with them back home about what is going on here in Washington, and they expect to hear the words and the ideas and the thoughts of their elected representative when that elected representative is communicating with them back in Washington, D.C.
But recently, in fact, you started seeing some of this pop up back during what they called the cap-and-trade and we call the cap-and-tax bill, but it has gone now to where it has become rampant on this issue of health care. An organization that is designed to set rules concerning how we spend government money in communicating with our people back home--it is called the Franking Commission. It is made up of, as I understand it, and I could have the number wrong, three Republicans and three Democrats, and both are submitted a communication, say a weekly newsletter, that is sent back home or the lead-in to a telephone townhall or an e-mail back home, an instant e-mail telling people what is going on this day in Congress. And these things have to be submitted if they are being paid for by government money to the Franking Commission.
The Franking Commission, in a simple way to say it, they just basically don't think you should be using the government's money for politics. But they have never in the history of the Republic taken the position you don't have the right to express your opinion on the policies that are being proposed, or that you must reword the policies to suit the language of someone else. It is almost like, I hate to say it, political correctness run amok.
I want to start off by telling you what happened to me, and then I want to tell you what has happened to some of my colleagues, and I am going to be joined by some of those colleagues.
It is important that you understand that I write to my folks or I communicate with my folks back home every day. One of the tools I use is called a telephone townhall. On a telephone townhall you make a recorded message that leads into the townhall, and part of the recorded message is to tell the people what you are going to be talking with them about for the next hour, so they know what the subject matter is, because it narrows the scope and we get to narrow down the things we talk about.
So we made a telephone townhall recording submission to the Franking Commission in which I proposed to say the Democratic Party is offering their government-run health care program in the next 2 weeks, and this is what we are going to talk about tonight. The Franking Commission came back and told me I could not say ``government-run health care'' and I could not say ``the Democratic Party.'' I had to say the majority party is submitting its public option health care program.
In other words, what they are telling me is I have to use the same language that the President of the United States uses in his speech, or that Nancy Pelosi uses when Nancy Pelosi talks about this, ``public option,'' which they have done polls to discover that ``public option'' sounds better than ``government-run health care.''
But that is their opinion. I as an American citizen and a Member of this body am entitled to express my title for that to my constituents back home, and in fact to the entire American public, to say in my opinion they are submitting their government-run health care program. And I would submit there is no other real way you can describe that if you believe the government is running it, because it says the government is running it.
It is not like they are going to contract out, subcontract to insurance companies to put together a policy. No. The United States Government is going to offer a health care plan for the American public and it is going to be run by the Federal Government, the United States Government. That is the plan. That is what they are submitting in their 1,018-page health care plan, which to this point has not been completed and finally marked up, and we haven't seen the final product. And if it goes the way it has gone since we have been in Congress since January, when Mr. Obama was sworn in, this Congress will present it to us sometime between midnight and 2 in the morning of the morning before we vote on it.
But getting back to the seriousness of this situation, I was taken back by what they did to me. But it is not just about me. If it was just about me, I would not be standing up here. But I felt like they were telling me what I had to say. I had to use someone else's words to describe something that I wanted to describe.
But that wasn't all. My colleague Kevin Brady from Texas, and he may be here later on, we were delayed because of weather for a long time tonight, and Mr. Brady told me he would get here if he could, as fast as he could, within this hour.
My friend Kevin Brady prepared this chart. And what this chart is is Mr. Brady's interpretation of all of the entities that exist or that are being created by this plan that is put together by the Democrats, and it is what stands between the consumers, that is this little body of folks right here, and the health care professionals over there, and all of this stands between them.
Mr. Brady was told that he could not mail this to his constituents. He asked why, and they said it is not true. And he said, well, that is fine. Point to me one entity that is not in the bill, one, just one, and I will pull it down.
No one could point to any entity that is not contained in the bill. Everything that is seen on this chart is contained in the bill. But the point of this was they were trying to curtail Mr. Brady's freedom to express himself, his freedom of speech in this body.
Now, if you want to really lean and say, Oh, sure that is fair, they ought to be able to do that, well, let's look at something here that is kind of interesting.
Back during the Hillary Clinton ``HillaryCare'' debate, another chart was introduced into this Congress. It is not as pretty as Mr. Brady's, because it is not in color. This chart, during the HillaryCare debate, was submitted to the Franking Commission. I don't remember the date. Maybe it is on here. Anyway, it was during the HillaryCare debate, what was that, 1993, back in 1993, by Dick Armey of Texas. It went to the Franking Commission, and the Democrats and the Republicans approved it as appropriate to communicate to constituents with.
So what has changed between the nineties and the first debate about health care, which was approved by both parties, and today, 2009, which was blocked and refused by the Democrat Members of the Franking Commission? What has changed is someone is trying to tell us we don't have the right to speak our minds in the United States Congress.
Now, when you get a huge majority like they have in the House, and the 60 vote majority in the Senate, maybe you feel like the mandate is so great that you have the right to circumvent the freedom of speech of the Members of Congress on the minority side. But you don't.
Congressman Joe Barton used the words ``Democratic majority'' in his newsletter. The Franking Commission kicked it out and said he had to use ``congressional majority.'' But in Nancy Pelosi's newsletter in 2006 when she was in the minority, you find this statement: ``But too many here and across our Nation are paying the price for the Republican congressional majority's special interest agenda.''
So why was it okay for the now-Speaker of the House just in 2006 to use ``Republican congressional majority,'' but it is not okay for Mr. Barton to use the term ``Democrat majority?'' He has sent this back along with Ms. Pelosi's statement and is awaiting a response from the Franking Commission.
Now, what is wrong with that? Well, what is wrong with that is that if you await a response from the Franking Commission, then you lose your time to communicate. You try to communicate on issues as they come up. This had to do with cap-and-trade before it passed the House. He was not allowed to use it.
A Florida colleague submitted a franking review for the week of July 13th that said, This bill imposes a new payroll tax on employers who do not provide their employees with insurance. The Democrats demanded it be changed to read, In my opinion, this bill imposes a new payroll tax on employers who do not provide the employees with insurance.
The problem is, it is not an opinion; it is a fact. It was pointed out to them on page 150 of their own bill. It says specifically the language that was quoted by a colleague from Florida.
Mr. Ken Calvert from California pointed out that he quoted verbatim from President Obama in a speech that he made at his recent townhall meeting on health care in which he quoted this quote. When a lady asked about her elderly mother and special treatment for her elderly mother with heart troubles and receiving a pacemaker, the President, this is a direct quote from his speech, which was not allowed to be sent out and was deleted from Mr. Calvert's newsletter, it was a direct quote: ``Look, the first thing of all is to understand that we actually have some choices to make about how we want to deal with our end-of-life care. We as a culture, as a society, can start to make better decisions within our own families and for ourselves. At least we can let doctors know and your mom know that you know what--maybe it isn't going to help. Maybe you are better off not having the surgery, but taking painkillers.''
That was a direct quote from the President at his conference, news conference, townhall, which was not allowed to go in Mr. Calvert's newsletter by the Franking Commission.
There are more stories, but the following people have had censorship of their language recently: Representative Herger, Representative Lamar Smith, Representatives Lamborn, Bonner, Westmoreland, Olson, Shuster, Roskam, McCotter, Gingrey, Fleming, Boustany, Brady, Conaway, Price, Culberson, Garrett, Kline and Lee. All have been in some form or fashion censored in their freedom of speech.
Folks, if they will take the freedom of speech away from your Members of Congress, when will they take it away from the press? When will they take it away from the people? When will they take it away from you and your children and the next generation of Americans that we pass this great, beloved freedom on to, the right of an American to stand up and speak his mind?
Yet this party, in control of this House, is starting to interfere with the freedom of speech of American citizens who are elected by other American citizens to represent them on the floor of Congress. Well, I have talked for a long time, but I am upset about what's going on. I am joined by some of my colleagues.
I yield to my friend Judge Poe from Texas for whatever time he needs.
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