THE FIRST 100 DAYS -- (House of Representatives - April 29, 2009)
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Mr. SCALISE. I thank my friend from Missouri for continuing to host these discussions where we can really talk about the policies, what happens here in Washington, how it affects people across the country.
But as we stand here today on the 100th day of President Obama's administration, it's going to become a tradition, as you said, going back to FDR--which there are a lot of ironic similarities to FDR in this administration--but that's when they started measuring Presidents by their first hundred days. A lot of people like doing letter grades for a President's first 100 days.
Mr. AKIN. What you're saying is A to F, is that what you're suggesting?
Mr. SCALISE. Some people stop at F. I actually use a different rating, and I have been asked, How do you rate President Obama's first hundred days? And I've said that I rate President Obama an ``L'' for ``liberal.''
Mr. AKIN. Reclaiming my time, that's cheating. I thought it was A to F. You're going all the way to ``L'' for ``liberal.''
Mr. SCALISE. Congressman Flake from Arizona, when we first had this conversation, and I agreed with him, and really, it's a characterization based on policy.
I think in terms of personality, clearly President Obama is one of the more articulate speakers in Presidents that we've had. I think President Reagan still rates up there as probably the top. Unfortunately, I don't think we have had anybody like Reagan since he left office and unfortunately passed away.
But in terms of policy--and I think this is really what really matters and that is what the American people are watching--it's this reckless spending. Spending at record levels. A budget that just passed today here on this House floor that all of us opposed but unfortunately passed, the largest budget in the history of our country, a budget that would double the national debt in 5 years, triple the national debt in 10 years.
I think if you look at what happened just a few weeks ago with these TEA parties, these taxpayer TEA parties, where hundreds of thousands of people showed up around the country. They weren't necessarily revolting against this President or revolting for a party or against a party. A lot of people really don't understand what happened in the media who were covering the TEA parties.
What really happened on that day back on April 15 was people across the country said--maybe some of them voted for the President, some of them voted against--but they said, We're very concerned about the direction of our country because of the reckless spending and borrowing that goes with it and what it would do to our future generations, to our kids and grandkids, where, literally, we will be borrowing this money from China, from India.
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Mr. SCALISE. What you're talking about, and we touched on it a little earlier, over the last few years we've heard a lot of complaints about previous Republican Congresses and the spending. I was definitely one of those people that was not happy with some of that level of spending. In fact, if you look back in 2006, the last Republican Congress that we had, I was not here, but in that 2006 Congress, the deficit, the Federal deficit, was about $160 billion, a number I think that was too high, $160 billion. Today, just 3 years later, with a Democrat Congress and the White House, that deficit went from $160 billion in 2006 to what it is today, $1.9 trillion.
So for those of us who had concerns about the deficit 3 years ago that are voting against this reckless spending today, what I think is hypocritical is you hear some people complaining about the spending that went on 3 years ago when it was $160 billion, but yet they're voting for the spending today when it's $1.9 trillion of deficit just this year.
So I think the American people are watching all of this. Clearly they were watching it when they took to the streets on April 15 in those TEA parties and said enough is enough. We have got to stop this reckless spending because of what it's going to do to future generations. I have got a 2-year-old daughter, and my daughter, Madison, she's going to be the one, her generation is going to be the one, that's going to have to pay these bills.
And those of us that were here voting today, this is my voting card, and this is the card that Members of Congress use to cast their vote. Some people up here think that this is a credit card, that they can just rack up trillions of dollars of debt that the future generations of this country are going to have to pay. That's not responsible. Obviously that's what we are trying to stop.
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Mr. SCALISE. You know, when we throw all of these numbers around, obviously the massive amounts of money--and when you talk about trillions of dollars, it's such a large number that it's hard for many to grasp just what that really means.
When we talk about the budget, and ultimately you look across this country, we are in tough economic times. Families across this country are actually cutting their budget. They are tightening their belts to live within their means.
And I think what frustrates most people is when they look at what's happening in Washington, whether we are talking about hundreds of billions in deficits or trillions in deficits, which, unfortunately, we are in today, they look at these numbers and they say, what's happening up there in Washington when we are tightening our belts, we are cutting back, Washington is actually mushrooming spending.
There is a lot of blame to go around. But when you look at what happened just a few weeks ago when the first budget came up for a vote here on this House floor, it didn't get any attention, but there was a balanced budget amendment that was proposed that day. Many of us proposed that amendment and voted for that amendment.
Mr. AKIN. All of us standing here voted for it.
Mr. SCALISE. What's ironic is over 100 Republicans just 3 weeks ago voted to balance this Federal budget, to balance it.
And this is during the cries of many on the other side who were criticizing all the spending that went on. And as they were criticizing the spending, they were raising spending by 10 times what had happened under Republican administrations, not one Democrat voted for that balanced budget amendment that was proposed on the House floor while many of them turned around and voted for the largest budget in the history of the country.
I say that because people don't want to hear about the partisan politics. But what many people are being told by this administration, incorrectly, is that there are no alternatives proposed by the other side, and that the Republicans are the Party of ``No.'' They don't propose any alternatives, which is clearly disingenuous because we have proposed many alternatives. They have been the party, not only of ``no'' because they have opposed those alternatives, they have been the party of fiscal recklessness, fiscal irresponsibility, of spending large amounts of money that literally will double our national debt in just 5 years. That's what I think has gotten most Americans frustrated now is that they know what they are doing to take care of their business. They are cutting back, and they are watching this Democrat leadership in Congress and this administration spending record amounts of money, running up the debt and the deficit at record levels, and money at record levels that we know nobody can sustain. So I think when people look, they say, this has only been 100 days. We have already, today, as we stand here, added 20 percent to the national debt, money we can't even get back.
The stimulus bill alone added almost $1 trillion of new debt, and we are still seeing some of the wasteful, frivolous spending.
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Mr. SCALISE. I thank again my friend from Missouri. You know, there are very critical areas of our economic problems that we have proposed alternative solutions to, three in particular I think that are critical to what is happening today that we presented to President Obama. Unfortunately, he hasn't taken them in the first 100 days. Hopefully he will take them in the next 100 days.
But if we talk about the overall economy, number one, the banking system, which is still holding back our economy; number two, energy policies, where we still don't have a comprehensive national energy policy; number three .....
Mr. AKIN. Reclaiming my time, are you saying that hugging Chavez is not really a national energy policy? Is that what you are trying to say?
I yield. I couldn't resist that.
Mr. SCALISE. Well, if you start with the overall economy, one of the biggest things we can do, rather than just massively growing the size of government and adding trillions of dollars to our national debt, we can empower our middle-class families and our small businesses. We presented a bill to do just that, a bill that would actually cut taxes for middle-class families and for small businesses, who create the bulk of our jobs.
What some people on the other side have said is, it is the tax cuts that have gotten us into this problem. What they fail to recognize is history. Every time we cut taxes, you can go back to when John F. Kennedy cut taxes or when Ronald Reagan or George Bush cut taxes, revenues to the Federal Government actually increased. What was always wrong was that the Congress spent more money than came in from those tax cuts.
So tax cuts clearly have worked. It is the fiscal discipline in Congress that has always failed us. So maintain fiscal discipline, cut the taxes to get the economy back on track, go into the banking system--we had proposed alternatives that would actually get the banks working again.
Mr. AKIN. You are talking so fast and what you are saying is so good, you are really referring to three different times in history, where instead of doing what FDR did and Henry Morgenthau tried to do, and came before Congress and said it failed, it doesn't work, this stimulus idea, this Keynesian idea, what has worked was what JFK did, what Ronald Reagan did, and what George Bush did, three separate times at 20-year different intervals, and that was they actually cut the taxes, and this seems like water going uphill, and the revenues of the Federal Government went up.
That is kind of an interesting phenomena, but it has happened time after time. And the reason behind that, I will go ahead and yield and let the gentleman explain that.
Mr. SCALISE. The problem is fiscal discipline hasn't been maintained by Congress. For all of the new revenue that came into the Federal Government, Congress always went on to spend even more money. So that is one area you can address.
On the banking system, we still have major problems in our banking system, a lot of it created by irresponsible lending by groups like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, who gave loans to people with no ability to pay, and they were encouraged by government. We need to end that.
On a comprehensive national energy policy, we can actually use our own natural resources, continue drilling for oil, natural gas, cleaning coal up and using nuclear power and take that extra revenue with those millions of jobs we would create and fund the alternative sources of energy, like wind and solar, to get us to that next level of jobs, rather than a cap-and-trade energy tax that would run millions of jobs out of our economy and also raise taxes on American families.
So we have presented these alternatives. In the first 100 days, unfortunately, President Obama has not worked with us to embrace any of these ideas, but hopefully that will change as more people become concerned about this record level of record spending.
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