Jobs And The Recovery

Floor Speech

By:  Greg Walden
Date: Dec. 15, 2009
Location: Washington, DC

Mr. WALDEN. Well, it's that season. The Christmas season is upon us. And I sort of felt like I must have been at the Nutcracker, because I haven't seen that much spin since the sugar plum fairies in the Nutcracker.

Let's talk about jobs and the recovery. Let's talk about fact and fact. When the American Recovery Act, the stimulus, was raced through this floor on a totally partisan move, we were told to expect that with the stimulus, as you can see here in this chart to my left, that this is what would happen to unemployment.

Now, remember, when the year started and President Obama took office and the Democrats claimed control of the Senate with a 60-seat margin, that can overrun any filibuster--60 seats--and a 40-seat margin here in the House means they are unparalleled in their power and control and ability to pass anything they want anytime they want and sign it into law.

When the year started, unemployment was at 7.6 percent in January of this year. High, by national standards. No doubt about it. Highest it had been in many years. We were headed into a recession. No doubt about it. We'd been through unprecedented times. But we were told if the American taxpayers would just go out and loan the Congress, actually it's not the American taxpayers yet, it's our kids and grandkids that get to pay it back later. Right now we're going to the Chinese and the Japanese and the oil-producing countries and saying, Can you loan us the money? But that's the dirty little secret here. If you'll loan us that $800 billion, whatever it was, here's where unemployment will end up. It's going to just barely go up and come out at about 8 percent. Oh, and by the way, we were told by some of the Democrats who were all for this that if we didn't pass the stimulus into law, that unemployment would go clear up to here.

Now let's look at what really happened. Many of us on the Republican side of the aisle said, That isn't going to work. Just throwing more taxpayer money you don't have, borrowing more money from foreign countries that already have loaned us more than they want to, and throwing that out in rapid succession may create a few jobs, but the long-term implications are dangerous for the future of this country because of debt. And you're not going to create that many jobs. Sure, in a year or two you can't help but create jobs, and we'll talk about some of those because a lot of them are created right here in the Washington, D.C. area, not out in real America, and are not sustainable. But we were told if we pass it, here's where we'll be with unemployment, at about 8 percent. If we don't pass it, gosh, we'll end up almost at 9 percent.

So they rushed it through here. The stimulus rushed through here. And now what are we at? We're over 10 percent unemployment. That's the red line. You see, some of us on the Republican side of the aisle actually come out of the private sector. We actually have signed the fronts of payroll checks like I have and my wife has. For 21, almost 22 years we were small business owners. We took over a very small family business, got it out of debt, on its feet and we grew it in 20 years. We employed 15 to 17 people in small communities in Oregon. I know what it's like to be a small business owner and comply with the heavy hand of government regulation and the burdens of taxation and all the things that you all in government think ought to happen because you know best how to create jobs. What a farce that is.

So we see what happens when you throw money at a

problem: You waste it, and you don't create jobs. You see, Republicans did have an alternative. My friends and colleagues who were on the floor here earlier said that we had no alternative. Well, they know that's really not the case at all. In fact, the Congressional Budget Office evaluated both of our plans and said the Republican alternative would create twice the jobs at half the cost.

Now, there are a lot of smart Christmas shoppers out there. Boys and girls, men and women, come closer. There are a lot of smart shoppers out there who look for bargains, and they say, If I could get twice the product at half the cost, that's a bargain. Unless you're the Democrat majority in the House and the Senate and downtown, then you want to spend twice as much and get half as much. You want to tell the American people, Pass my plan and I'll get you no more than maybe 9 percent unemployment, somewhere in the upper 8s. Actually, no, they said it wouldn't go above 8. That's right. They said it wouldn't go above 8.

Whoa. It was at 7.6 and now it's at over 10. And let's talk about what happened to that stimulus. So how did they spend the money? There was an interesting report out in The Hill--$6 million borrowed from your kids and grandkids, actually borrowed from the Chinese, the Japanese, the oil-producing countries that buy our debt, and our kids and grandkids will get to repay this with interest. Six million of those dollars went to now Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's pollster.

I'm not making this up, folks. This is not a fairy tale. Two firms run by Mark Penn, current Secretary of State Clinton's former Presidential campaign pollster, received a total of $5.97 million in taxpayer funds from the Democrat stimulus that you heard created all these jobs, solved all these problems. Burson-Marsteller, a public relations and communications firm run by Penn, received the funding to advertise the analog to digital television switch in 2008, reportedly saving three jobs at the firm. Three jobs. $6 million. Of the $5.97 million, $2.8 million was also allocated to Penn's campaign polling firm, Penn, Schoen and Berland. At the end of the day, taxpayers spent $6 million to save three jobs. $6 million, three jobs.

How many of you go home to your constituents and say, in a town meeting, Can you loan me $6 million, because I've got a brilliant way to create three jobs for Hillary Clinton's pollsters and public relations people to tell people in America that, by the way, you are going to switch from analog to digital on your TV which, by the way, they were very capable of figuring out on their own. We didn't need to spend the nearly $2 billion that was spent in the overall conversion effort to educate the public. They got it. They're smart enough to figure this stuff out. And if they're not, they've got 12-year-old kids that can figure out how to make the DVD not blink and the VCR not blink. But anyway, $6 million, two jobs. Two million on a dance theater.

Oh, this one you'll like. Los Angeles Times. The Minneapolis city council recently voted to use Federal stimulus funds to convert a vacant, 99-year-old theater into a center of dance instead of funding a solar energy panel manufacturing plant that would have created seven times as many jobs. Now my friends who were talking before me talked about the green energy jobs. Well, here was a perfect opportunity, with your Federal tax dollars, to create green energy jobs and the Minneapolis city council decided to put it into a dance theater instead. The dance project will cost $2 million and create 48 permanent jobs, according to the city.

Interestingly, in the spring newsletter, the theater estimated that completing the project would actually only create 26 full-time and part-time permanent jobs. So in their spring newsletter, they said 26. Now it's reported at 48. The solar energy panel manufacturing plant, meanwhile, that was in competition for that stimulus money received less than $300,000, compared with the dance theater's $2 million, yet the plant would have created more than 360 jobs by 2011. But they couldn't do the right, what is it, minuet? They couldn't spin just correctly. They weren't, I don't know, maybe they didn't have the right tutu on or the right shoes or something. They only had $300,000. The dance theater got $2 million.

Americans could have created 360 jobs in Minneapolis. They made that decision. Councilman Paul Ostroff was the single councilman voting against the Center of Dance saying ``the theater wasn't creating enough jobs to qualify for stimulus money, whereas, the solar energy plant clearly fit the President's goal. It was a home run. It was a home run.''

I told you a week or so ago about the $95,000 being spent to study Viking-era pollen in Iceland. Viking-era pollen in Iceland, $95,000. Having been a small business person I've helped create jobs, and I've watched every nickel. You do that when you're in real America. Not back here. When you're in real America and creating real jobs, and you're trying to get to something we call positive cash flow and maintain that, you watch every nickel. You don't let $95,000 go out the door to study Viking-era pollen in Iceland. You make sure that you invest every cent correctly and effectively. You don't just spend money rampantly. You don't throw it out the door. It's too hard to earn. And you're trying to grow your business. You're trying to expand your business.

That's what the American way is about. My friend earlier talked as if the whole American recovery, the whole economy and the greatness that we have, originated because of some Federal programs in the Great Depression, the WPA the CCC. And certainly they left a nice footprint behind with some of our fantastic park lodges and buildings. And they did some wonderful work. That is not the essence of America's economy. It doesn't start and stop right here in these two wells, the Well of the House or there at the leadership tables. We are not the innovators and creators of jobs. That is out there in America.

Ladies and gentlemen, in the real world, when somebody has an idea, they get a couple of people together who want to believe in that idea, and they put their money forward. They don't go take it from somebody like the tax man or woman does. They put their money at risk. And they say, if we do it a little better, a little smarter, we can be successful. We can create jobs. We can benefit from that. And by the way, it's our money at risk as private citizens. So, we're going to be real careful how that gets spent. We're not going to waste it on lavish offices and all these things. That's the real America out there.

You know what I'm talking about, small businessmen and women. You go behind the counter and behind the wall, and they have a broken-down chair and a computer that's sort of wired together that they try and keep operating, and they have paper piled around. I have been in your offices. I had one of your offices. I can show you the pictures and the piles. I know what it's like to work day and night to make your idea successful. That is the American entrepreneurial spirit that works.

And yet here in Washington under the party that's in power, they know no limit, no limit to Federal government involvement in your life. They know no limit to borrowing, spending, and believing that they should take over your health care. The Democrats want to put a bureaucrat between you, your insurance company, and your doctor. It's bad enough with the bureaucracy that's out there today trying to get health care. I paid for health care for our employees, my wife and I did, paid 100 percent of the premium. I know what those cost increases look like. We never could target enough to figure how much they would go up. And I want to do something to reform health care, and I have supported many proposals to do so.

The irony is the plans coming out of this Congress, these plans however, increase premiums on employers, drive up the cost curve on those of us who are trying to figure out how to make health care more affordable. The Democrats' plan actually drives up the cost curve, drives up the premium, puts mandates on individuals and taxes on small businesses and will cost millions of jobs long term and make America less competitive.

You don't think capital doesn't flow any more? You don't think we live in a global economy? For heaven's sakes. You don't think we need to be on our best game and have the most efficient process available to create jobs and run a business? No. I sit here in amazement. I have spent all-nighters in my business trying to make it work. I have struggled trying to pay the bills, get up early in the morning, trying to figure it all out, trying to cut your costs, trying to create your jobs, save jobs during tough times. We were in business 22 years. I have seen the good times, and we were successful in the end. I have seen the bad times, and I know what that's like.

But I also know that it's important how you spend your money. FOX News reported recently the National Institutes of Health received $8.2 billion in stimulus funds. I'm all for the National Institutes of Health. However, NIH is conducting a $65,472 study on the relationship between HIV and sex in St. Petersburg, Russia. You think I'm making this stuff up, don't you? $65,472 to study the relationship between HIV and sex in St. Petersburg, Russia. I won't even go there. $700,000 on how taxes, trade, and politics affects tobacco sales in Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, and other nations in Southeast Asia. $73,000--you'll like this one--to study whether the Asian tradition of dragon boat racing will enhance the lives of cancer survivors--$73,000 to look at whether or not dragon boat racing enhances the lives of cancer survivors.

Why don't we put it into screenings? Oh, that's right. This is the administration that says, women don't really need to do breast screenings nearly as often or maybe at all. That's a report that came out of this administration. How absurd is that? Put your money in dragon boat racing, don't do mammograms. This doesn't make sense to me. And I don't think it makes sense to Americans.

We are looking at some of the other spending. How about this one: $67,726 in taxpayer money to send staff to a customer service seminar, the Green Bay Press-Gazette reports. The Oneida Bingo and Casino outside of Green Bay, Wisconsin, used a Federal stimulus grant to send their staff to a customer service seminar. The 2-day seminar was held at a local technical college to teach the casino staff how to handle confrontations with customers.

These are the investments. Do you see why some of us, why every Republican voted against that stimulus? We knew it was going to be wasted.

Now let's go to the Congressional Budget Office because they said in the first year or two you can't spend that much money and not create a few jobs, even though they are probably short term. So I give them that. What they look at after that, though, is the debt service cost that actually becomes in the out years, years 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, a debt drag on the economy. It will cost us jobs because you can't borrow $800 billion and not have to pay it back. Even the Federal Government needs to learn that lesson.

Let's talk about the debt, because I think that is the single biggest threat to our country's future, to my son's future, to your children's future, is this enormous theft, intergenerational theft I think Senator John McCain called it, where we're taking money from them. Actually we're just stealing their credit card, and we're using it like there is no necessity to ever pay it back, to buy things today that they get the bill for later.

At $1.4 trillion, this year's deficit is more than three times that of a year ago. I want that number to sink in; $1.4 trillion dollars this year is triple what it was last year. Oh, and who was President last year? That's right, George W. Bush was. So they want to blame the prior administration. And certainly we all had our complaints at times with any administration. But the facts are these: $455 billion deficit at the beginning of this last fiscal year; this fiscal year, under Democrat control, House, Senate, White House, $1.4 trillion.

As a share of the economy, it's 10 percent of gross domestic product. That is the highest level since World War II. Deficits, however, went up under both parties. That's why we need a constitutional amendment to require a balanced budget. The great State of Oregon has had that in its constitution for as long as I can remember, and maybe since Statehood. And it has forced the State legislature and the Governor to make tough decisions to balance the budget. Sometimes I have agreed with those decisions, sometimes I haven't. Sometimes they've raised taxes and sometimes they've cut spending. But at the end of the day, they had to balance the budget.

If you want to reform this Congress, you would require that this Congress, every time, and the President, regardless of party, has to balance the budget. You could have an exemption if you're at war or in times of emergency. I understand that the Federal Government has some unique roles to play. But this is spending with reckless abandon. This is out of control. Debt held by the public rose above $7.5 trillion, or over 50 percent of gross domestic product, the highest level of the share of the economy in 50 years.

When Speaker Pelosi took over, it was at $8.9 billion--trillion dollars. Sorry. It's so hard to keep track of billions going to trillions. We used to--well, I think 100 bucks is a lot. When you're spending taxpayer money, we're talking billion, millions, forget it; billions, we don't even go there any more. We are now talking trillions.

So when Speaker Pelosi took over, the national debt was $8.9 trillion. Now why does that matter? The House controls the purse strings of what gets spent. So whoever controls the House starts every spending bill. That's how the process works. It's simple civics. The House, the United States House of Representatives, this body, you men and women who are watching or here tonight know that that's how it really works. The President can veto it, but at the end of the day, it's the House and the Senate that get together. The Congress controls the purse strings. The House originates these things.

So $8.9 trillion; the debt is now $12 trillion. Every man, woman and child in America is responsible for at least $39,000, and it's going up to $45,000. Under the President's budget, the debt is projected to double in the next 5 years, triple in 10. It will be roughly three-fourths the size of the entire economy by 2019.

Now I want you to think about a debt that goes to

$17 trillion, $18 trillion, $19 trillion, $20 trillion, and how you ever pay that back. When Republicans were in charge of the Congress and before the 9/11 attacks and the wars broke out, we actually paid down debt, half a trillion dollars worth. It was a proud moment for our country and for this Congress and for both parties. But it was really Republicans who drove it. We had a Democrat President. We worked in a bipartisan way to get it done, though. And the economy is strong. And we paid down debt.

Now go with me on this. Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, get closer to that TV because we're going to go through some math here. I was a journalism major, not a math major, but I think I can figure this one out. Twenty trillion dollars is at issue here. To pay it off, presume that Congress would have to run a surplus of $1 trillion a year for a 20-year span and not spend it, actually apply it to paying down the debt. How many in this Chamber tonight think that's going to happen? Raise your--well, nobody raised their hands. Because nobody believes Congress will ever run a trillion dollar surplus under any condition and apply it to pay down the debt.

That's why these issues today in our country's life are so critical, because we have taken our kids' and grandkids' and probably great grandkids' credit cards and spent like there was no reason not to. And they're going to get the bill.

According to The Washington Post, when adjusted for the inflation, World War II, the Korean War, the interstate highway system, the Vietnam War, the race to the moon, and the Iraq War added up to $6 trillion. We are now at 12, and we are headed to 20. In comparison, the government will borrow $9 trillion over the next decade.

Now, let's go to a bill that just came up in this House Chamber. It's called the omnibus. Whenever you hear that word, shutter your children's eyes and ears. Omnibus. It's really a bad thing. American families are hurting. Ten percent unemployment. Democrat leadership responds with a massive spending bill last Thursday. Last Thursday this came forward. And let me talk to you about that bill; 2,500 pages, nearly half a trillion dollars in spending, 5,000 earmarks on hundreds of pages, and we, under the Democrat leadership, we in the House of Representatives--do you know how much time we were given to read it?

Now I'm not Evelyn Wood. It takes me a little more, I'm not a great speed reader. We were given 2 days to read the bill since the conference report was filed.

Two days. Half a trillion dollars was spent. Two thousand five hundred pages, 5,000 earmarks, and we were given 2 days.

The omnibus contained appropriation bills--$446.8 billion for those keeping track. So half a trillion, 12 percent over the combined funding levels for the same six appropriation bills last year. How many of you got a 12 percent raise? How many of you would just like to have a job? How many of you got a 12 percent raise? These six spending bills gave your Federal agencies a 12 percent increase in spending.

Now, there will be those that will say, Oh, but it was for this, it was for that. Everything is wonderful when you're giving it away. Everybody wants to be Santa Clause. There's a big bag in the back of the sleigh parked right behind the podium here, I'm convinced of it. There are more presents than there are kids right now when it comes to this Congress; the problem is we don't have the elves' workshop at the North Pole. We've got kids at home and families at home who are unemployed trying to figure out how to make ends meet. You would think that this government was running a huge surplus and would be able to help them, but no, we're running a huge deficit that hurts jobs, takes away jobs, and they spend 12 percent more.

Some of these bills, the Transportation-HUD bill was up 21.3 percent; State and Foreign Operations up 33.2 percent. In addition to the normal appropriations, the agencies funded in this omnibus received a total of $128.2 billion in supplemental funding in the stimulus bill that we heard about earlier. So when you heard about this stimulus, the American Recovery Act and how evil it was the Republicans didn't vote for it, remember where a lot of that money went; it went back into the government. It didn't go out into middle America. It didn't go out into rural America. Some of it did, certainly, but it did not go very far outside of Washington.

So here is the final tally: The omnibus spending bill I just referenced brings new spending for nondefense, nonveterans discretionary programs to a level 85 percent higher than 2 years ago.

Mr. POLIS. Will the gentleman yield for a procedural motion?

Mr. WALDEN. I will be happy to yield to my colleague.