Mr. MURPHY of Connecticut. Thanks to my friend from Ohio for setting the playing field for us this evening. I think back to when I was making up my mind about running for Congress some 4, 5 years ago, and I was in Connecticut--Cheshire, where I live today--sitting and watching a Federal Government that seemed intent on using the power that it has accumulated here in Congress and in the administration to essentially turn over government to their friends. Now, whether their friends
were in the oil industry or their friends were in the health insurance industry or the pharmaceutical industry or the defense contracting industry, whatever it was, it seemed as if the reason that some people had run for office, the reason that some people had sought positions in the Bush administration was to hand over the reins of government to corporate interests; to people that, frankly, didn't have the public interest at heart.
And I think back to the reasons that I decided to run for Congress, and at the foundation of it was a real belief that we had essentially begun to privatize all sectors of the United States economy and the United States Government and that taxpayer dollars were more often being used not to accrue to the public benefit but to accrue to the benefit of a small group of people who happened to hold and wield influence here in Washington.
And so I think about what would have happened back in January and February of last year as we were setting the economic strategy toward recovery. I think about what would have happened if the folks who had been running Congress and running the administration in prior years were in charge of this economic recovery. I think about the bill we passed. I think about the fact that one-third of the stimulus bill passed in the winter of last year went to tax cuts--went to tax cuts not for the top 1, 2, 3 percent of income earners in this Nation; not tax cuts for the Fortune 100, 200, 300, but tax cuts for individuals, for middle-income folks out there, the people that I represent in Connecticut.
Now, they're not enormous tax breaks. Folks weren't getting thousands of dollars back, but they were getting a couple hundred--$300, $400, $500--back in taxes. Small business tax breaks in that stimulus bill to allow for more incentives for small businesses to expand and invest in capital to maybe allow them to take some of their losses a little bit earlier than they might have otherwise been able to do in order to make the books balance for that one or two really tough years that they needed to survive.
I think about what would have happened if the Republicans had written that stimulus bill and where those tax breaks would have gone. Because I know the statistics from the Bush tax breaks. Not to say there weren't some deserving people who benefited from that tax break, but I know that the average millionaire in my district from the last round of Bush tax cuts got $43,000 back. I know that the average-income family in New Britain, Connecticut got $19 back from that tax break. Now things cost a little bit more in Connecticut, but that's just about enough money to buy a pepperoni pizza in New Britain. That's nothing. I know that if the Republicans had been writing that stimulus bill that we would have likely seen more of the same, that we have would have likely seen the economic recovery and the economic stimulus bill that they would have written as an excuse to hand out more tax breaks and more favors to folks that didn't need any more.
And so the reason, Mr. Ryan, that you talk about this recovery as it is in action, the reason that we see retail sales picking up, the reason that we see 10 percent growth in our economy in the last 6 months is in part because we invested our recovery strategy in the right people; we invested our recovery strategy in low-income and middle-income families who needed a little bit extra money back on their taxes so that they can pay their bills, that they could stop from going into bankruptcy themselves, and that maybe they could put a little bit of their money back into the economy. We invest it in small businesses because we know that 90 percent of the jobs in this or any other recovery are going to come from small businesses. And we invest in future businesses as well.
We've got a company in my district called Apollo Solar. I've got to tell you, this is going to be the next big thing. They are making some really important technology that will allow individual homeowners to put solar panels on their roof, generate a whole bunch of power, and then sell it back to the grid for a profit. This is going to be in every home in the Nation, we hope, in a matter of to 10 to 15 years. And the stimulus bill decided to put money into Apollo Solar so that they can not only add jobs, but point the way forward for the future of the American economy. Money in the pockets of middle-class families. Money in the bank accounts of small businesses. An opportunity to point this economy forward to the next wave of jobs that we're going to enjoy in this country in the form of renewable-energy jobs.
Mr. Ryan, you're exactly right. I still have unacceptably high levels of unemployment in the places that I represent. I've still got way too many people that are laid off. And it's no small consolation--no consolation at all to them when I, or anybody else, tries to explain that jobs are always a lagging indicator and listen, we've got to have big jumps in the production in this country and jumps in retail sales and jumps in orders for factories before all of those employers start adding jobs.
But I think people are coming to understand that the recovery is on its way. They hear the stories. They hear the stories from Main Street, as I did in New Milford, Connecticut, a few weeks ago where almost every retail establishment on Main Street in New Milford reported that May and June have been among their best retail months in 2 to 3 years. Factory after factory that I go to are reporting that for the first time they've seen orders make significant upward increases in the past several months. They feel that good news.
Now they know that those retail establishments and those factories need to get a couple more months of good news before they start actually adding jobs back. And they know that the first thing they're going to do is take the workers that they had furloughed for a day or two every week and put them back full time. But the trend is going in the right direction, and I think it's going in the right direction because the stimulus, written by the Democrats, championed by President Obama, was put in the right place. It gave to Main Street. It gave to middle-class families. It gave to small businesses which--we're only guessing here. I'm only guessing--but I think that if President Bush was still here or the Republicans were still in charge of Congress, that that stimulus and the people and the corporations and the institutions that it invested in would have been a very different set of people and businesses than we see today having been invested in.
Mr. Welch, I would be happy to turn it over to you. I'm glad to see you and Mr. Boccieri joining us on the floor this evening.