CHALLENGES AND TROUBLES WITH OUR ECONOMY -- (House of Representatives - March 25, 2009)
BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT
Mr. SCALISE. Well, I want to first thank my friend from Missouri for yielding and for hosting this hour to talk about the real dangers of this road that we're going down. This is a budget proposal, this budget that we're talking about, especially these record levels of spending, but they are all proposals right now that have been filed by President Obama. Some of these are bills that have not even gone through committee yet but that are going to be going through committee.
I think what is happening and what we are seeing around the country is that the American public, during these tough economic times, is dealing with their problems. Families are cutting back right now. We are seeing that all across the country. People are saving money. They are paying down debt because they know that we are in tough times. We all hope that we get out of these tough times soon, but I think what is concerning people are some of the policy decisions coming out of Washington right now: these proposals by President Obama for these record levels of spending, with record levels of borrowing and of not borrowing from a savings account but borrowing from our children and grandchildren--because this is money we don't have--
coupled with record tax increases. These are not just tax increases on the rich--and I don't think class warfare is a good thing at any time. It is surely not a good thing now, during these tough economic times, to be threatening over $600 billion in new taxes, the bulk of which will fall on the backs of our small business owners--on the people who actually hire and employ 70 percent of the American workforce right now.
Mr. AKIN. Reclaiming my time just for a second, you are talking about these different tax increases and different things that are spending money. It's starting to get a little bit hazy because there are a number of them coming along, and it's easy to get them confused in your mind where it was that we spent money and how much. So I have put together some of the real big ticket items. I mean we're only into March, right? I mean it's only the first quarter. Let's take a look here.
This is the Wall Street bailout. It started, actually, at the end of the Bush administration. They did, I think it was, $300 billion or $350 billion, something like that.
Mr. SCALISE. $350 billion.
Mr. AKIN. $350 billion.
Then, under President Obama, we got the other $350 billion. So half of this is Bush and half of this is President Obama. Then we've got this economic stimulus--I call this the porkulus bill--and that was $787 billion in its final form. Then we've got the appropriations bill that we passed. That's another $410 billion. So, you know, we are well over $1 trillion here in less than--what is it?--3 months.
Mr. SCALISE. Sixty-five days to be exact.
Mr. AKIN. Sixty-five days.
I just thought it would be helpful to have those numbers up there. The main thing was the Wall Street bailout, then this porkulus bill and then this appropriations bill.
Mr. SCALISE. What you are pointing out is exactly the concern that is going on throughout the country, the fact that, in the 65 days President Obama has been in office, our country has already incurred over $1 trillion in new debt. We keep hearing the word ``inherited'' a lot, and the President tries to imply that every problem that is out there and all of these spending bills are all things that he inherited.
First of all, the porkulus bill, as you call it--the spending bill that added over $1 trillion of new debt, which was his major initiative, his first initiative--actually was something that President Obama decided to do on his own. That added another $1 trillion. His budget that he has filed is a record.
This is a chart here that depicts the budget deficits over the last few years, but then project it forward under President Obama's budget, and you can see the first year of President Obama's budget is a record. It was $1.7 trillion. Just on Friday of last week, the Congressional Budget Office updated the numbers because they recognize now there is even more deficit spending, and they recognize the fact that now there will be over $1.9 trillion of deficit spending just in President Obama's first budget.
This is not a budget President Bush proposed. In fact, President Bush's last budget, as you can see, was somewhere in the $400 billion number, a number I'm not comfortable and, I'm sure, that my friend from Missouri is not comfortable with.
Mr. AKIN. Reclaiming my time, we have gone from $400 billion to $1.7 trillion?
Mr. SCALISE. More than tripling the deficit in just 1 year, and this is the latest projection. Now it is $1.9 trillion, roughly, in deficit spending that President Obama's budget has.
Clearly, this is not an inherited number. This is something that he has proposed spending and that we are going to fight. We are actively fighting it right now. I think, if you look across the country, the American people are seeing what these record deficits would mean. When the President says--and he said it again last night--that he wants to cut the deficit in half, I think a lot of people are starting to realize now that what he is saying is kind of a play on words, because he is not talking about cutting the deficit in half from the deficit that he truly inherited. He inherited a $400 billion deficit--again, a number that, I think, is too high.
So, if we agree that that number is too high and the President, himself--and of course, he was a Senator for the last 4 years, and he voted for some of these budgets--agrees that a $400 billion deficit is too high and he wants to cut it in half, then you would think that means he is going to have a $200 billion deficit, but that is not what is happening in his budget.
He actually proposes in his very first year a $1.7 trillion deficit, triple the budget deficit that he ``inherited.'' By his fourth year, he is still over $1 trillion now in deficits. So, clearly, he is not cutting it in half. He has raised the bar the first year to a record-level-high deficit, and still his fourth year is more than double the deficit that he inherited in the first year.
Mr. AKIN. Reclaiming my time, that is really clever politically. So, in other words, what you're saying is the first year, you kick it up--and it is whatever it is, three or four times more than it has ever been for a long, long time--and then you say, ``But I am going to cut it back so it's just a lot more than it has ever been.''
Mr. SCALISE. I'll give my friend from Missouri an example. I come from Louisiana. I was born in New Orleans. We've got some of the best restaurants in the world in New Orleans, and that is an undisputed fact, and I'm very proud of that fact, but if I were to decide tomorrow to go out every single night and eat at these world-class restaurants and, let's say, starting tomorrow and for a couple of days that I gained about 40 pounds while eating out and I say I'm going to cut my weight gain in half, after a couple of weeks, I'm down to a 20-pound increase. Well, at that point, I'm still 20 pounds heavier than when I started.
And so what happens is he starts off by raising, by actually going on, instead of an eating binge where you can get some good enjoyment out of the food, he goes on a spending binge spending money that we don't have, that our children and grandchildren who, I am sure, would not approve of this. And, of course, I have got a 2-year-old daughter. Nobody's asked her if she approves of this spending because she is going to have to pay for it. And yet they go on this spending binge in the first year and continue it all the way out through the full 4-year term of President Obama.
In fact, the Congressional Budget Office has estimated that in the first 5 1/2 years since President Obama took the oath of office, the national debt will double in those 5 years--double from the point that this country started, going back to George Washington through President Bush, all the debt that has been inherited in our country for that entire period of time, over 230 years, President Obama, in just 5 1/2 years, will double that record level of debt.
BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT
Mr. SCALISE. As we look at all of these numbers--and, of course, it can become overwhelming. It looks like something that's almost hard to believe when you look at these record levels. But I think all across the country what you're seeing is people really are looking at this level of spending, and it is something that people don't want to stomach. It's something that they don't feel comfortable with. They realize how reckless this level of spending is.
In fact, all across the country right now we're starting to see TEA parties sprouting up. These are things that aren't being even organized. There was one I heard of in Orlando, Florida, the other day. Two housewives got very angry. They got mad. They wanted to channel all their anger that's been going on in Washington and all of the borrowing from our children and grandchildren, and they decided they were just going to put together a protest against all of this spending. Over 3,000 people showed up at this rally. In my district on April 15 in the largest parish in Louisiana they are planning a TEA party.
They are also planning another one in a place called St. Tammany because people are angry about the spending. They want to stop this because the good news is--and as we have been talking about all of this there is a silver lining--and the silver lining is this budget has not passed yet. This budget has been proposed by President Obama, but I think as he's laid it out there, not just Republicans but Democrats, Independents all across the country are speaking up just like we are here tonight on the House floor. People all across the country are speaking up saying, Enough is enough. Stop this runaway spending. And I think that's encouraging because there is an opportunity to slow this train down to regain fiscal responsibility.
BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT
Mr. SCALISE. It absolutely does not make sense to be doing this in good times or in bad, but especially when we talk about the economic times our country's facing, where unemployment is going up and just exceeded 8 percent nationally.
The estimates that are just starting to come out on the President's cap-and-trade--and he calls it a cap-and-trade bill, but clearly, this is an energy tax, a tax on energy to the tune, according to the President's budget, and this is not our number. This is the numbers that the President gave us. He expects to generate over $640 billion in new revenue through this energy tax, and this is something that's going to be paid for by every American family.
His budget director, Peter Orszag, a year ago when he was working for the Congressional Budget Office actually said this type of plan, this cap-and-trade energy tax, would cost every American family that uses energy roughly $1,200 a month minimum more in their electricity bill. Plus, anything that is produced by energy, any product that's produced by energy, would also increase in cost because this tax would be passed on.
And so, as the judge said, these goods, food, clothes, anything that's shipped by rail, by car, by truck, by ship, all of these goods will be taxed through this energy tax, the cost being passed on to the consumer.
What's more, early estimates in the first year alone, numbers we got from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, showed that we would lose, the United States, would lose over 600,000 jobs that would leave this country. And we talk about the dangers of exporting jobs, losing jobs to foreign countries. Countries like China and India are not be going to be complying with this tax.
I will give you an example of a business, an opportunity, that is delayed right now, a job-creating opportunity in a time when we want to be creating jobs. In south Louisiana, there is a steel mill that a company from North Carolina was going to be building, and they're right now deciding between two sites. One site's in the United States, and it's in south Louisiana right outside of my district, but it's in south Louisiana. The other alternative location is in Brazil. So they're not even looking in the United States if they don't go to this location.
Mr. AKIN. Reclaiming my time a second, what you are saying is you've got some very hard manufacturing jobs. These are the kind that support other jobs in the community. You're talking about steel mill. You're talking about production. You're talking about a lot of investment, good solid jobs in the community, and your competition is not Missouri, is it?
Mr. SCALISE. The competition is not Missouri. In fact, the only competition is really the United States Congress is because what this company has said is they want to build this plant in the United States. They want to keep these jobs in the United States. This is a $2 billion investment, and we're not talking about government money. We're not talking about bailouts. It seems like some people in the White House and the leadership in Congress, they only want to give taxpayer money away to people to create jobs.
This is a private company that wants to spend $2 billion of their own money to build this steel plant which would create 700 good, high-paying jobs, and they want to do that here in United States. And they said there's one thing holding them back, and that's the President cap-and-trade plan. If the President's cap-and-trade plan, the energy tax, passes, they will not be able to build that plant in the United States.
Now, that plant will still be built. So people that think that this plant's going to do some damage to the environment, first of all, they don't have science backing them up on that. But if they think that, first of all, they're wrong because that plant will be built, but it's going to be built in Brazil. Those 700 good, high-paying jobs, the $2 billion of private sector investment will all be sent to Brazil. And Brazil's not going to use the same environmental controls, the same safeguards that we would use if that plant was run here.
So that's a real direct example, and that's one example. That's one of countless examples of what the President's cap-and-trade energy tax would do, not only to raise taxes on every American family, as even his own budget director pointed out, but also the direct loss in American jobs that would be shipped overseas if this plan passed. And this isn't something that we're just coming up with. This is something a corporation has said publicly that they want to spend $2 billion to create 700 jobs here in America.
BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT
Mr. SCALISE. There are a lot of things that we are saying ``yes'' to. We are saying ``yes'' to fiscal responsibility. We're saying ``yes'' to lower taxes. I think people all across the country are saying ``yes'' to that, too, and that's why they're all pointing to Washington, and they're saying, ``no,'' don't continue going down this road of runaway spending, runaway deficit, runaway borrowing from our children and grandchildren.
We can pursue new technologies, as the judge talked about. There are companies right now pursuing technologies for carbon capture and sequestration where they literally would be going into those coal plants and capturing the carbon and storing it, holding on to it so it doesn't go into the air. We're pursuing and continuing to encourage the development of wind power, of nuclear power, of solar power, but all of those technologies combined are what it's going to take to reduce our dependence on foreign oil.
If that's our goal, and it should be our goal to increase our production of our own natural resources in this country, but what we've got to be very careful about as we discuss the dangers of this spending proposal and these taxes is what it does to future generations.
And there's one final chart I wanted to show, and that is what President Obama's budget does to raid the Social Security trust fund. This is a promise that was made not only to our senior citizens of today but to our workers of today and our children of tomorrow if they want to expect that Social Security program to be there for them, that they're paying into right now.
The fact, President Obama's budget in the first four years takes over $200 billion a year out of the Social Security trust fund. It actually raids those funds after the first four years of President Obama's term in office. He would raid over $900 billion from the Social Security trust fund alone, and then, of course, he still goes other places. He tries to sell debts to countries like China.
We just saw today--today, something very frightening happened. The markets reacted very negatively to it. They went out and tried to sell debt, as the country does throughout the course of each week. A few times a week the country goes and actually sells debt.
When they went today to sell debt, the number of people that wanted to buy that debt dropped to a low level--dangerously low level--and in fact they had to pull back. And you saw the markets drop dramatically because I think it is a sign. It's a sign that people are very concerned about these runaway deficits and what this is going to do to the value of the dollar down the road. And that's why we've got to be fiscally responsible. We've got to say ``yes'' to fiscal responsibility and stop this out-of-control spending that is going on in Washington.
BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT
Mr. SCALISE. Thank you. I see our time has about expired, but I think the important note that we're finishing on, and I appreciate your passion because there are so many people that are passionate, and that's what's great about this country, and we can stop this runaway train by continuing to have this debate tonight.
Mr. AKIN. This is taxing too much, spending too much, and borrowing too much.