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The Economy Situation We Now Face

Floor Speech

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Location: Washington, DC

THE ECONOMIC SITUATION WE NOW FACE -- (House of Representatives - March 31, 2009)

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Mr. SCALISE. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I thank my friend from Missouri for participating in helping lead this hour-long debate on the issue that is right now most important facing our country, and that is not only how to get out of this economic crisis that we're in, but how to sustain and get our country back on footing in terms of budget policy.

In many ways, we've got problems in our financial systems, but we've got big problems here in Washington as it relates to spending and borrowing and taxing.

This week, we're going to be voting on the President's budget. His budget resolution is on the floor later this week. It's a budget that causes us great concern because of its record levels of spending, record levels of borrowing, and record levels of taxing not only small businesses but every family in this country that uses energy on the energy cap-and-trade plan that just got filed yesterday--the President's cap-and-trade policy that adds a $646 billion tax increase which will fall on the backs of every American family.

So when we talk about all of these policies, let's look graphically at just what this means in terms of spending as it's relating to the past decades in our current national debt.

Right now, if you look at the trend over the last few years, the budget deficit was actually going down. It was still too high. For those of us who do not support deficit spending, it was still too high, but at least it was trending down towards getting back to a balanced budget.

Unfortunately, the first budget that President Obama filed increases deficit spending--actually, record levels. Next year would be a $1.9 trillion national deficit added to a record level of debt.

When we talk about the level of debt--and I think you're seeing across the country this budget has got a lot of people concerned, not only for what it does in the first year of spending, but this comes on top of the stimulus bill, that massive spending bill, over $800 billion of deficit spending that the President signed in his first few weeks in office. But then this budget thrown on top of that, when we look at what this means to future generations, this is where the real concern comes in.

This is a chart that actually shows since the history of our country since 1789, when George Washington took the oath of office, through the period of time that George W. Bush left the White House in January of this year. This country accumulated $10 trillion of national debt.

Now it's a level that I'm not comfortable with and many people are not comfortable with. But when you compare that with President Obama's budget, he mushrooms the national debt from $10 trillion, which is the national debt he inherited, to $23 trillion, when his budget that is going to be voted on late this week is taking effect.

Now, obviously you see graphically why so many of us oppose this record level of spending and borrowing. The fact that one President in just one budget resolution can double the national debt to do what it took 43 other Presidents to do in 220 years of our country's history, this President will double that number, to go from $100 trillion in national debt that all 43 previous President's accumulated, to going up to $23 trillion when President Obama's budget is fully implemented--if it's fully implemented.

That's what brings us here tonight--the fact that this budget resolution has not passed yet. It's a proposal. It's a proposal by the President that I don't support, that many of us don't support, and I'm not sure that a majority of us don't support it, because we will have a vote and there is a chance that this budget will pass. That's why we're trying to lay out these facts.

These are facts. These haven't been disputed.

These are verified by the Office of Management and Budget, the Congressional Budget Office. Everybody that's looked at this has confirmed that the President's budget will more than double the national debt. Yet, we are presented with this vote later this week.

Those of us on the Republican side have presented an alternative budget. In fact, we've laid out a plan to get us back to surpluses; a plan that pays down, goes down on deficits--brings our deficits back down to where we're only spending as much money as we're taking in.

Just like American families across the country during these tough economic times--they are cutting back, they are making do with what they have--this Congress should do the same. This President should do the same. The Republican budget that we have laid out now will do just that.

It doesn't add new taxes. In fact, it cuts taxes so that small businesses can go out and hire more people. But then it responsibly spends to a level where we will finally have a balanced budget, something that is critical--for our country to spend within our means.

So my friend from Missouri I know has been talking about this same thing. I want to yield back to him some time so that he can further expound on it.

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Mr. SCALISE. Reclaiming my time, I want to thank my colleague and friend from Missouri for laying out not only the stark realities but the optimistic tone that this is not something that has happened yet. This is an issue that the American people are recognizing when they see the concerns that they have, which are the same concerns that we have, that the President's budget spend too much, taxes too much, and borrows from our children and grandchildren--money that we don't have.

So why is this bad? Because the numbers that you showed, the numbers that we show right here on this chart, the fact that President Obama is doubling the national debt, something that took over 220 years and 43 Presidents to accumulate. He is more than doubling that with his record level of spending.

What's interesting is right now, just today, they started a summit in Europe. The President went to Europe today and he is going to be meeting with other world leaders in Europe.

Just last week, European leaders--now we're seeing American people all across the country speaking out against this record level of spending, recognizing the problems and dangers that it's going to pose not only to them in terms of higher interest rates, lost jobs, inflation, but also in terms of what we will be leaving to our children and grandchildren. All of this debt that would be saddled on the backs of future generations.

So Europe is actually taking notice. In fact, the Czech prime minister and the current European Union President, Mirek Topolanek, said last week that ``the biggest success of last week's EU summit was its refusal to copy the U.S. example. We need to read the history books and the lessons of history. And the biggest success of the EU is the refusal to go this way.''

You had the head of the European Union telling the President that he's spending too much money and that he's concerned about President Obama's spending. It's almost like when Otis, the town drunk, tells you he's concerned about your drinking problem.

I think you need to take notice when leaders in Europe are telling the United States that this President is spending too much money. I think that's very riveting. In fact, it's a major concern that a lot of us have.

That's why those of us on the Republican side and we invite our Democrats to join us in a bipartisan way to join with our budget resolution, not a budget that spends too much, borrows too much, and taxes too much, but a budget that actually balances the Federal budget, that does not raise taxes that will actually create jobs.

We filed this bill in a bipartisan way. We're reaching out to our Democratic colleagues to reject the path of doubling the national debt. So, hopefully, they'll join with us.

Somebody that is joining with us is my friend from Ohio, Mr. Jordan, who's on the Budget Committee and has been participating in some of these discussions and helping draft this alternative plan. So I yield time.

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Mr. SCALISE. I want to thank my friend from Ohio. And when he talks about the hard work and doing the hard work, doing the right thing even when the easy way out might be more appealing, he has got a little bit of humility but he did that hard work and was a two-time national champion wrestler. So, somebody who has been wrestling with the budget. But he has got some good experience, and he speaks I think some very poignant words.

And when my friend from Ohio talked about those tea parties that are going on, when we talk about tea parties nowadays, it is not a couple people sitting around in sun dresses drinking hot tea; it is something that hearkens back to the days of our Revolution, the founding of our country when the Boston Tea Party was that symbol, that tipping point that many people had where they said enough is enough. And then they revolted against taxation.

What we are seeing today in the country is a similar revolt against the spending, not just the taxing, but the spending and the borrowing, where thousands of people--and these are events that are organized not by community organizers, not by government institutions. It is just regular citizens on their own, in many cases without much media attention, that are saying: We want to speak out against this spending. And thousands of people show up at these rallies.

In fact, on April 15, on tax day, which for many of us is not our most pleasant day we look forward to, but on that day we have got two of those tea parties in my district, in Covington, Louisiana, and in Metairie, Louisiana, because citizen activists said we want to speak out against this spending that is being proposed in Washington, D.C.

And I think the real sign of encouragement that they have is that since much of this hasn't happened, some of it has happened but much of this debt hasn't been added yet to the rolls; and before it does, they want to speak out so that we here in these halls in Congress hear those voices.

And we are hearing them here, and we are proposing an alternative. It is not just a matter of being opposed to something that we think is bad; we proposed an alternative and a balanced budget, a budget resolution that, unlike the President's, brings us down a road to increased national debt, doubling of the national debt, higher taxes. We actually have a budget that has no taxes, that actually cuts taxes for small businesses to create good middle-class jobs at a time when we need to be creating jobs, and actually gets spending under control, brings us to a balanced budget. That is something that we should all support, Democrats and Republicans.

And this is what the two proposals look like right here. President Obama's budget is in red, and you can see the graph continuing to go up in record spending and debt that is going to be increasing. And then you can see the Republican Budget, actually getting the spending under control and bringing it back down, bringing us to a balanced budget.

With that, I yield back to my friend from Missouri (Mr. Akin).

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Mr. SCALISE. Again, I thank my friend from Missouri. And when you talk about the Founding Fathers and that great document, the U.S. Constitution, which I would argue is the second most important document ever written, next to the Bible. And when the Founding Fathers really talked about and articulated the foundation of our country when they were forming it, they really did believe in those things, and they sacrificed tremendously for that liberty, for that freedom, to create what has been the greatest experiment in democracy in the history of the world. And we still are that great democracy. And the reason we are here tonight is because we want to preserve that democracy, not just for ourselves, but for our children and for our grandchildren.

Every generation in this country has a fine tradition of passing on a better Nation than the one that they inherited. And many of us feel that if we go down this road, we would be in jeopardy of leaving a worse Nation behind. And so it is well worth fighting for those principles that our Founding Fathers talked about are critically important. It is why we were elected. It is why we took the oath of office here in this Chamber in January, to uphold the principles that that document articulates.

And when you look at this budget, when you look at the contrast, go back to World War II, and you will see this massive spike in public debt held as a percentage of GDP. And of course we were fighting a world war. We won World War II. And it was expensive. And as soon as World War II was over, we came out of it, and we got back to a regular level of spending. Then you see this massive spike, this red spike, which is representative of President Obama's budget contrasted by this green line, which is the Republican alternative.

This bill, this is an alternative budget resolution that we filed. Too often we hear, and some of our friends on the other side like to reinvent history and they say, ``the Republicans have no alternatives. They are just against the President's budget.'' I guess they don't know how to read this document. We have copies right here on the House floor, and we are distributing to them to anybody who wants to see it. In fact, it is on the Internet. You can go and look it up on the Internet and read the details of what we propose. And that is a budget that is balanced. That is an interesting concept here in Washington, D.C. these days. But it is a budget that we actually balance.

We don't raise taxes. In fact, we cut taxes for middle-class families and for small businesses to create jobs, to get our economy back on track, and so we can get control again on this runaway spending that so many people are speaking out about.

One of the other points that this budget does that concerns many of us is it borrows from Social Security. So what do these policies, what does ``deficit spending'' really mean? Well, first of all, last week when the Treasury Department went out to sell debt--on occasion, a few times a week, the Treasury Department actually goes out and sells debt. And last week they had a hiccup. There was a problem because some people weren't buying the debt at the levels they were expecting. And you saw the stock market tank that day. Unfortunately these days, we see a lot of tanks in the stock market as reactions to some of the things happening here where you have the Federal Government, literally the government trying to tell private companies like GM whom to hire as their corporate CEO. These are not healthy signs for our country. But that debt had a cost.

Another cost to that borrowing and deficit spending is that in just the first 4 years, in President Obama's first term, he will actually raid the Social Security trust fund of $910 billion taken away from Social Security. That is a cost of this deficit spending. That is why so many of us are speaking up against this deficit spending, because senior citizens out there who are on fixed incomes expect that obligation to be met by the Federal Government. Young people that are working today are paying in, paying those Social Security taxes. Some may be cynical and think they are not going to get anything for it. But it is an obligation that is made to them because they pay taxes into that system for that system to be there for them. And how is that system going to be there for them if this President in just 4 years raids the Social Security trust fund of $910 billion? These are real consequences to this runaway spending.

So as we talk about these things, I'm going to yield back to my friend from Ohio to share his thoughts.

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Mr. SCALISE. I thank my friend from Ohio for joining us tonight. And the things he said are so true, that great entrepreneurial spirit that makes this the greatest country in the world where people literally envision the American Dream, where industrialists like Henry Ford revolutionized the auto industry and the manufacturing industry with the assembly line and changed the way Americans can get around and can see the country, people like Bill Gates who dropped out of college to pursue a dream and change the way all of us communicate, literally, our day-to-day lives. That entrepreneurial spirit is still out there. But people don't want it taken away by government literally coming in and trying to control all of these areas of our life with this cap-and-trade energy tax which would put a $600 billion tax on the production of energy in the United States, which would equate, by most estimates, to more than $3,000 per American family in higher energy costs.

That is part of this budget that we are talking about that spends too much, taxes too much and borrows too much. It is why we are opposing it. It is why we are proposing an alternative budget, a budget that actually balances the Federal budget, that cuts taxes and that gets Americans back to work. We actually have this online. It is at gop.gov. We put it out there so that people can go see the details and compare it to what President Obama has proposed, which is a doubling of the national debt.

We have just a few minutes left. I want to have a final word shared with us by my friend from Missouri.

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Mr. SCALISE. Thank you, again. I appreciate my friend from Missouri joining us in this hour debating and talking about what is at stake with this budget, the President's budget, that will be voted on here in this House Chamber later this week. The fact that one President with one budget, one 10-year budget proposal, can double the national debt what it took 43 Presidents in over 220 years in our country's history to rack up $10 trillion in debt, this President, one President with one budget proposal will more than double that. That is what is at stake here. That is why we are joining in this debate. That is why American people all across the country are going to these rallies, these tea parties, to speak up.

We all understand that there is a role government must play. But it has to be a limited role. It has to be a role that is based in fiscal responsibility, not just for us, but for future generations, for our children and grandchildren who want the same things, who want a better life. And that is why people come to this great country.

Again, when we talk about what is happening in Europe right now, the President is over there, it is very ironic that the Czech leader, the head of the European Union last week was lashing out, lashing out at the President on his spending proposal, expressing concern. And it must say a lot when leaders in Europe are concerned about the spending that is going on here.

But it is not just leaders in Europe. It is people all across this country. And some people have talked about the fiscal irresponsibility of Congresses past, both Republicans and Democrats, those of us who weren't there back then, those of us who didn't vote for those budgets. A lot of us came up here to fix those problems because we don't think it is responsible to spend money we don't have.

That is why I am the cosponsor of a balanced budget amendment to our Constitution so that we can force fiscal discipline in a place where unfortunately it doesn't exist right now. But it is not too late because this budget resolution hasn't passed yet. The vote will occur on this House floor later this week. And everybody will have to take a position. I know I will be voting against that budget because of what it does, not only to our generation, to our freedoms, but to future generations. And that is why I'm supporting the alternative, which is a budget that is balanced, a budget that actually cuts taxes to help get our economy back on track. These are proven principles. These are things that have not been tried and failed before. The only thing that we know that has been tried and failed in the past is massive spending. And you can go back to the Great Depression in the 1940s when the Federal Government spent and spent and spent. And even the Treasury Secretary under FDR said the spending didn't work, 8 years of spending, and there was higher unemployment.

Ultimately, we can fix this problem. But it starts with this vote on this budget resolution that we are trying to defeat later this week.

I yield back. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.


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