Correcting the Record

Floor Speech

By:  Debbie Wasserman Schultz
Date: July 27, 2010
Location: Washington, DC

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Ms. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ. Let's take it one step further. It's not just bad enough, okay, to say they voted to protect the tax break. On top of that, 95 percent of House Republicans have signed a pledge to protect those tax breaks, signed a pledge, put their name on the line and said, I am going to protect tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas.

It's absolutely mind-boggling. We want to make sure that we protect companies and give tax breaks and incentivize companies that make decisions to create jobs here in the United States, in your district in New York, in your district in Ohio, in districts across this country. And they would rather have those jobs created in China and in other countries and boost up their economy.

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Ms. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ. And your point is very well taken. We had to use a procedural motion just to be able to get around there being an obstacle to the America COMPETES Act coming to the floor and being able to get a straight-up vote. And when it came right down to it, we were for it and most of them were against it.

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Ms. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ. Absolutely. Thank you very much, Mr. Tonko.

Just to veer a little bit in a different direction towards, again, the choice that Americans are going to be facing, because your facts are stubborn things. You can run away from a lot of different things. Facts are just persistent in chasing you. They've been chasing the Republicans, those stubborn facts, for a long time. One of the facts is that Republicans are consistently on the record of voting against statutory pay-as-you-go legislation.

Now, back in the Clinton administration when PAYGO was first established--and that was a tough, tough vote that Democrats led the way on, made sure happened under President Clinton's leadership--the country finished his Presidency with a record surplus, which was handed to President Bush and he promptly squandered in just a few short years.

If you look at this chart, we will start back in the Reagan administration. And I want to start back in the Reagan administration because--walk with me down memory lane, shall we?

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Ms. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ. I know it's painful, but I think it's instructive.

As you walk with me down memory lane, let's look at under which Presidents we operated on a deficit and under which Presidents we operated at a surplus. President Reagan, $1.4 trillion deficit. President Bush, didn't get any better, got worse, $3.3 trillion deficit. Go to President Clinton, we went from a record deficit at the time to a record surplus of $5.6 trillion. And then when President Bush finished office after being handed a record surplus, he finished office with an $11.5 trillion deficit, handing that record to President Obama. And, as you said, after having driven our economy off a cliff, now the Republicans are asking for the keys once again.

Facts being stubborn things, as I mentioned, the Republicans consistently voted against statutory PAYGO. In fact, under the Bush administration, they allowed statutory PAYGO to lapse, which is, in large part, why we ended up in a deficit situation. They deficit-spent like drunken sailors--two wars not paid for, the Medicare prescription drug part D program. As good and as pleased as we are that seniors have their prescription drugs paid for, we know that program was deeply flawed, could have been a thousand times better. Ultimately, we were able to fix it in the Affordable Care Act.

But they blindly spent, through tax cuts and spending, and now suddenly seem to have found religion when it comes to spending and deficits.

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Ms. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ. One of the things that is important to note, Mr. Ryan, is that, when we became the majority once again in 2006 and over the last several years, we reestablished statutory PAYGO. First, we established it in rule. Then we passed it in statute. One hundred percent of the Republicans in this body voted ``no.'' They voted against making sure that we made a commitment in the law to not spend more than we take in, to pay for the legislation other than in emergency spending, and obviously, we've been in an emergency. We've been, you know, pretty careful about what we declare as an emergency, making sure that we have covered the legislation with pay-fors. They haven't believed in pay-fors in years and years, if ever.

Let's keep in mind the tax-cutting policy that they had, which was exclusively focused on the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans, which also wasn't paid for. I mean tax cuts are spending, and there is nothing wrong with tax cuts. We have to balance tax cuts with our spending policy, but when you don't collect revenue, that is less revenue that we have in the Treasury, which affects the deficit as well. So I mean their total disregard for balancing the books is not something that they're going to be able to run away from, and we are not going to let them run away from it.

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Ms. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ. Mr. Tonko, I want to bring us back to the choice, to the choice of going in the direction that we have been taking the country, which is a new direction to reinvest in America, to make sure that we can create jobs here and not give tax breaks to companies that send jobs overseas, to reestablish statutory pay-as-you-go rules so that we can make sure we pay for the legislation we pass and so that we don't spend more money than we take in.

Let's walk through some of the other bills that we have passed here to make sure we can focus on our own economy and can compare the record because, again, this is going to be about a choice that Americans are making.

How about the Small Business Jobs and Credit Act? That was legislation that provided loans to small businesses and access to capital for small business start-ups to help support the economic recovery and to create jobs. Ninety-eight percent of Republicans voted against that legislation.

How about the Small Business Jobs Tax Relief Act? That was a bill that provided tax incentives to spur investment in small businesses and that granted small businesses some tax penalty relief. Ninety-seven percent of Republicans voted against that legislation.

How about the American Jobs and Closing Tax Loopholes Act? It is legislation that would help create or save more than 1 million American jobs and prevent corporations from shipping jobs overseas and sticking American taxpayers with the bill. Eighty-three percent of Republicans voted against that legislation.

There is the HIRE Act. That bill would give small businesses tax incentives to hire jobless Americans. Between February and May of 2010, an estimated 4.5 million new workers were hired, making American businesses eligible for up to $8.5 billion in tax exemptions and credits under the HIRE Act. Ninety-seven percent of Republicans voted against that legislation.

I could keep going. I mean, really, this is an unbelievably long list of job-creating legislation that we have passed, that we have put out here on the floor of this House.

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Ms. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ. Over 95 percent of Republicans voted against it.

So we could continue to move in the direction in which we have been going--job creation, spurring the economy, investing in America--or we could backslide toward the Bush era and go back to the exact same agenda as they have committed to focusing on, but I'm not sure that I've met anybody who wants to go back to that agenda.

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