Important Issues Facing All Americans
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Mr. GOHMERT. I thank my friend for yielding. Steve Forbes was up here on the Hill a couple of weeks ago. One of his comments was that we could do a complete repeal, and at the same time we could put some fixes in there that Republicans had been proposing, that we have had out there as alternatives at the same time, just one fell swoop, so that people would realize that we have not been the Party of No, we have some fantastic ideas that would have revolutionized health care and gotten it back to where it had transparency, where it was affordable, and gotten insurance companies out of the health care management business and into the health care insurance business, where you insure against an unforeseeable illness or catastrophe down the road and put patients back in charge of their health care.
I certainly had a proposal along that line that we never could get CBO to score nearly a year later, I guess about 9 months to be fair, that they have sat on that to try to help kill--help work for the Democrats to help make sure that any of the good alternative plans could not get scored so that we couldn't come in and say here is the plan that saves money, gives more freedom, and does all these things. Anyway, it's been a bit of a tough year.
But the problems didn't just start with this President. My friend from Iowa knows as well. We have been heading in the wrong path for some time. Of course Republicans lost the majority, rightfully, in November 2006 because Republicans had gotten giddy after 2001 and had started spending too much money. And voters held them accountable. And we hope they will continue that trend this November.
But I recall my favorite President, from Texas that is, George W. Bush, I think the world of him, he is smarter than most people give him credit for, but he got sold a bill of goods by a bad Secretary of the Treasury, and he was told a good way to stimulate the economy in January 2008 was to have a stimulus bill and have $160 billion, $40 billion of which would just be given to people as a rebate who didn't pay income tax. They would get an income tax rebate even though they didn't pay income tax.
And my friend from Iowa may remember as President Bush came down the aisle here he shook hands with everybody, and made his speech, and then on the way back up I didn't realize there was a mic open that picked me up asking him, ``Mr. President, I wanted to ask you how do you give a rebate to people that didn't put any bate in?'' And that's still a problem.
And then you come up, and bless his heart, Hank Paulson saved his firm Goldman Sachs, saved the people that he had worked with and chaired over and had great personal interest in. He was able to save them at great
cost to the American way of life, to the free market system. Just created a real disaster. You can't set aside free market principles to save the free market.
But it all led up to desensitizing people to just how much $700 or $787 billion is. It is an enormous amount of money. And so here we came into January of 2009, and right off the bat have a $787 billion stimulus, most of which has not been spent. Even though we were told that people didn't have time to read it, you got to just pass it, $787 billion dollars will be thrown out there and we will get the economy going. Had to be passed so fast, before people could read it.
And then yet the President took several days, kind of like he has getting fired up to do anything about the gulf coast. So he takes his time, waits for a photo op to sign the stimulus bill into effect. But the problem is you can't raise taxes the way this health care bill did and think you are going to help the economy in the long run. It's not going to happen.
And then we find out we have moved from the overly high 39 percent of Americans not paying Federal income tax to now the projection that 53 percent of American adults will be paying all of the income tax. I think historians all pretty well acknowledge that in a democracy, including this republican form of government where people can vote for candidates based upon what they promise to give them in the way of benefits, once you get past one more than 50 percent of those who are voting receive benefits and not pay income tax, or not pay the Federal taxes, you've lost it. You head to the dustbin of history. You're done. There is no recovery from that, absent a miracle from God.
And of course some of the people that are creating the problem don't believe in God, so they are really in trouble because they can't even expect a miracle from God like some of us could.
But 53 percent of Americans to pay all of the income tax. And then I have heard great disparagement, as my friend from Iowa has, as we have been to the tea parties and been asked to speak at various tea parties, including the one down Pennsylvania Avenue a few weeks ago, the one at the Washington Monument, and you see all these wonderful, peaceful, law-abiding people, and you talk to them and you find out these are people paying income tax.
And we also have seen the latest survey that indicated that 28 percent of Americans, up from 20 percent, 28 percent of Americans identify with the tea party. Well, what that means is since those 28 percent pay income tax, it means that over half of the 53 percent projected to pay all the income tax this year, those that are really carrying the load for the country, pulling the wagon for everybody else, over half of them are tea party members, identify with the tea party.
Quite interesting. It's not the marginal group that some would have Americans believe. We are talking about rank-and-file Americans who are pulling the weight with income tax.
Now, one of the things that would help a lot is if all of the President's promises about jobs were to come true. Then we would have more people able to pay income taxes. I know an awful lot of folks who would welcome the chance to get back to paying income taxes, but they can't find jobs. This health care bill is a real jobs killer.
I have had, as I'm sure my friend from Iowa has had as well, people who've come up and who've said, I lost my job. My sister lost her job. These folks lost their jobs. After the health care bill passed, they had to be let go. Others are saying, We've had our salaries cut. We've been told it's coming.
These are economy killers, and these things in the health care bill are robbing America of people who would be able to help with that income tax burden. So it has been tragic, and it just breaks my heart to hear from these people who have lost their jobs because they had to ram through this health care deform bill instead of doing what was really right for America. We didn't have to have people lose their jobs just to pass a health care bill, but they didn't care about what America thought.
I want to mention one other thing about the Tea Party folks before I yield back to my friend from Iowa.
We've heard that people were rowdy at the Tea Party on that weekend that health care got rammed down America's throat. Some of us went out and walked and saw the folks. We walked down the street. People were lining the sidewalks pretty thick. They were yelling and cheering when some of us came out because they were so vocally opposed to health care.
On that weekend, as I was going back to my office from a vote over here and as people had crowded onto the sidewalks and as most of my friends in Congress were walking through the streets, I decided to get up on the sidewalk and walk through the middle of the crowd and thank them. This was not a group for which the SEIU, ACORN, or the Federal Government paid their way. These were people who had come on their own money--nobody else's. They'd had to come up with their own money. Some of them had taken time off from work and from family. They'd made sacrifices to get here in order to let their voices be heard. So I wanted to personally make sure I went through the crowd. I shook as many hands as I could, and I thanked as many people as I could.
As I was going down the sidewalk, people were patting me on the back and were speaking encouragement to me. I was just saying, Thank you for coming. Thank you for letting your voice be heard.
About 10 people into the sidewalk, I started to reach for this lady's hand. She probably was 40 to 50 years old. She was pleasant-looking enough.
She said, I'm for health care.
I thought I misunderstood, so I said, Well, I am, too--just not for this disaster.
But she said, No. I support this bill.
She wouldn't shake my hand, and I thought, well, that's kind of strange. That's kind of a party killer person right here in the middle of the crowd; but, oh, well. That's fine. That's America. So I moved on.
I was shaking hands and was thanking people. They were so wonderful and encouraging. They were saying ``thank you'' for my thanking them. It was really very moving at times. Those were some of the expressions we got.
About 15 feet down the sidewalk, I met a guy who said, I'm not shaking your hand.
I realized this was another one like the lady. Every 10 to 15 people, as I shook hands with people on both sides, I ran into people who wouldn't shake my hand because they were for the health care bill.
When I got to Independence, I had a guy yell, Are you Louie Gohmert?
I said, Yes.
He wanted to know why I hated homosexuals, and I explained I don't. You know, as a Christian, I am supposed to love everyone, and I try very much to do that, but it doesn't mean I have to embrace lifestyles that the Bible says are inappropriate.
Anyway, he used the ``S'' word and some things that I won't use. I mean I know it's appropriate for Senators like Senator Levin, but I'm not going to use those words down here. I don't think they're appropriate here, but I had them used on me out there on the sidewalk. He was, obviously, also not a supporter of the Tea Party, of me, or of those who were walking through.
After I got back to my office, I realized, you know, those people were placed about every 10 or 15 feet in the middle of the crowd. I don't know what they did after they refused to shake my hand, but there were certainly people placed regularly throughout the crowd who were just that--they were placements. They were people who were put in there. They were observers. Hopefully, they weren't the people who yelled epithets or things to try to make their conservative folks around them look bad; but I can verify and I can testify that those people were out there and that they were amidst the Tea Party folks. Most assuredly, they were not Tea Party people.
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Mr. GOHMERT. Well, thank you.
One of the other things that comes to mind is we talk about our freedoms--about the ability to assemble and about the freedom of speech, which is the ability to say what is in your heart.
We come to what happened last week in England, where a man who was not intentionally out being a nuisance, but he was asked by an officer, according to the article I read, who looks for violations of this type of law, ethics type of law--and this person apparently was homosexual in practice, and he asked the individual about the Bible, about sin. He mentioned drunkenness and a number of things that would be sins as addressed in the Bible and was asked about homosexuality, and he said, yes, under the Bible it's a sin. It's hard to look at Romans 1 and think otherwise. But anyway, this man was arrested. He was put in jail and now is out awaiting trial on his charges. And it was one of the things that concerned us greatly about the Hate Crimes Act because we knew that bill was based on two lies. And there were publications like Texas Monthly that didn't bother to look into the facts, many publications around the country that just ran off and jumped on the train of those who refused to read it, laws to read the facts, to look at facts that were being cited as basis and find that they were lies. But the two things on which that bill were based were both lies. Number one, that there was an epidemic of hate crimes in America. Number two, that it would somehow have changed for the better the outcome in the James Byrd case in Texas, the Matthew Shepard case. And the fact is that those are lies.
The James Byrd case had two of the three--the two most culpable defendants got the death penalty. The only effect the hate crimes bill would have had if it had been in place back then would be that those guys that got the death penalty would have gotten life in prison instead of death. I felt like from the evidence that I read and heard about that they deserved the death penalty. And in the Matthew Shepard case, they got multiple life sentences; so it wouldn't have affected those cases.
The FBI statistics show there has been no surge, uptick in hate crimes, alleged hate crimes, and those include yelling of things inappropriate.
I don't think my friend from Iowa or any of our friends, and those that I met at TEA parties would condone nasty name calling. None of the people I met. But we get into a very dangerous area. There were Founders that fought and died for this country and for that thing that would later become the First Amendment. It didn't exist during the Revolution, but they believed the concept of freedom of speech. And they often cited Voltaire as the source. Some disagree, but Voltaire is usually given as the source for the saying ``I disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.'' That helped form a basis for this country. Yet now we have evolved in this country to where the thought police have a slogan that is more apt to be, I disagree with what you say, and I'm going to destroy your life because of it. I'm going to see you're fired. I'm going to see that you lose as much of your assets, hopefully all of them, as I can. I am going to destroy your life.
So we have come a long way from those days when the Founders were willing to fight and die so people could say things they thought reprehensible but at least they had the liberty to say them.
One of the things that gets very dangerous is when you start putting a lid on people's freedom of speech, as the PC police around here, as the thought police have begun to do. When you prevent people from being able to say what's in their heart and vent a bit, then you build up steam. If you don't allow people to vent, they build up steam, and then you have an explosion. So I know there are those that say, well, talk radio is hateful and whatnot. And actually talk radio, most of it, is not hateful at all.
But you go back to the President's own statement that we're not a Christian Nation. Well, I am not going to debate that. I know that we were founded by people who professed to be, although history is often rewritten nowadays, including in the early 1800s an early biography of Washington that was a complete fraud.
But if my gentleman friend from Iowa would allow me, this has just been on my heart because I go up from time to time to the Lincoln Memorial, and I stand there and read those profound words from that selfless man. And on the north inside wall is his second inaugural speech. And it brings me to tears every time I read it because this is a man who is wrestling with how a just God could allow the pain and suffering to go on that he did. And it is a beautiful theological discussion. If it would be all right with the gentleman from Iowa, these are Abraham Lincoln's words in his second inaugural. It's there carved into the marble, and he was talking about the North and the South, trying to make sense of how you could have friends and family fighting on two sides of an issue. He said:
``Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God's assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men's faces, but let us judge not, that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered. That of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has his own purposes.''
Then he quotes Scripture, and he says: ``Woe unto the world because of offenses; for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh.
``If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him?
``Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman's 250 years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said 3,000 years ago, so still it must be said `the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.'
``With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the Nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.''
Powerful, powerful words. And having lost my brother a couple of weeks ago, sometimes it is a struggle when you believe in God to know the kind of hurt and suffering that goes on.
But as Lincoln said, and so it must still be said, ``The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.'' And I do believe, and I don't try to push my religious beliefs on anyone else, that God normally allows us to suffer the consequences of terrible decisions. If you follow the rules, you do what we are told allows your nation to be blessed, and your nation gets blessed. If you follow the things that cause your nation to be cursed, it just seems throughout history, that is usually what happens.
This is such an important time in our history. We have got people who would gladly destroy everything we believe in, all the liberties we have, and yet we have people who are at the same time striking at our freedoms of speech, striking at our liberties to assemble as we wish. Those things need to stop. We need to stop those who by terror and by warfare would try to take away those things that the Founders and all those who have fought and died since have put at our feet and given to us as a gift, and we need to fight those from within who attempt to take them away through misrepresentations of what are truly the facts in order to pass bills that actually are based on lies and hurt the country.
I appreciate my friend so much yielding to me.
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