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Public Statements

Addressing the Concerns of America

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. GOHMERT. Mr. Speaker, it is such a pleasure and honor to be back here after our recess. Obviously there are matters of concern for all Americans. Obviously since we were here last, the voters have spoken, and spoken pretty loudly.

But there are a number of things that concern Americans. There have been significant Tea Party groups and organizers here talking. It looks like those folks have found out that Americans have voices, and they can be heard.

One of the great things I think that has been realized across America is once again it is being acknowledged that the people are the government. Every couple of years we have a hiring day to hire servants who will step up and do the will of the government, the people, as directed by the people.

Well, they have forgotten for a while that hiring day is Election Day, and you shouldn't go into it unless you are properly prepared, as any good employer would be, by reading the resumes, talking to the candidates, doing interviews and seeing who would be the best hire to be the public servant from that area, the employee. Boy, their voices were heard this year.

So it is quite reassuring. And I am pleased to work with folks across the aisle, I know we all are, to move forward with the things that the American people have once more said are very important.

If you go back to November of 2006, you find out the people really haven't changed their opinion much. They made it clear in November of 2006 that they were not going to tolerate the deficit spending that the Republican majority was doing. They didn't care who was in the majority. They still don't. They want the deficit spending to stop.

They wanted it to stop in November of 2006, so they made their voices clear and said, okay, Democrats, you have promised us that if we make you the majority, you have promised to end the deficit spending, because the Republicans, my goodness, they have run $100 billion, $200 billion deficits in one year. It was outrageous. Who knew that within 4 years that a Democratic administration would be deficit spending done by Republicans on steroids, ten times the kind of deficit that was anticipated in one year. We can't continue as a country with that kind of spending going on. It has to be stopped.

But we were hearing in the last week the cry of people across America too about this lame duck session. Now, it is nice, we had some lovely votes tonight: The Copyright Cleanup, Clarification, and Corrections Act; recognizing the 50th anniversary of Ruby Bridges desegregating a previously all-white public elementary school--very worthwhile; and the third vote tonight, honoring the 30th anniversary of the Bayh-Dole Act, which it sounds like most people don't know what that was.

But, nonetheless, people are scared that it is going to get a lot more serious than that, because they made their voices heard in the election. We don't want people coming at us with that crap-and-trade bill and saying we are going to shove this down your throats like we did the health care bill. They didn't want the health care bill. They thought they made it clear, but they were not listened to.

They made it clear they don't want the elimination of what my wonderful elementary, junior high, and high school teachers, who nearly all of them were supporters of the Democratic Party, taught. All of those teachers made clear in my growing up that a very important foundation in any democratic republic like ours is the secret ballot. Now we still have this bill out there, the card check bill, that will eliminate secret ballots.

We can just think back in our own Chamber here to the race for majority leader between Steny Hoyer and John Murtha, the late John Murtha. Speaker Pelosi, speaker-to-be Pelosi had made clear she wanted John Murtha to be her majority leader. They seemed to have worked closely on the issue of bashing President Bush over the military operations and trying to stop him at every turn. In return, he was named speaker-to-be by Pelosi as her choice to be majority leader.

Well, who in their right mind would go against someone who is clearly so adept at using political power as the gentle lady from San Francisco, if she knew who was going to go against her choice? But the fact is, like the Republican Caucus, the Democratic Caucus used a secret ballot, so the people in the Democratic Party after the November 2006 elections were free to choose the person they most wanted to be the majority leader, and that ended up being the gentleman from Maryland, Mr. Hoyer.

Had a similar card check bill been shoved through this Congress to force the Democratic Party to have the secret ballot eliminated, then I think you could anticipate that the late John Murtha would have been majority leader, and the will of the Democratic Members in this body would have been overwhelmed simply because such a primary component to a democracy was removed, the secret ballot.

We don't need to remove the secret ballot so that might will make right, instead of right standing on its own. The ballot has to be secret in any organization in which anyone wants it to be secret. Take Robert's Rules of Order, of the requirement to have a secret vote.

Of course, out here when we are doing the people's business, it can't be secret, because we are employees, we are servants, sent up here to do the people's will, so it shines up on the wall exactly how we vote when we vote.

But one of the things that people should have learned after this November election, including Senators that are up for election 2 years from now, is if you jam another one of these bills down somebody's throat, the people's throats across America, as you did health care, you will be looking for a place to retire or another job.

Now, one thing: If they do ram through the crap-and-trade bill as it passed through the House with 300 pages of amendments filed at 3-something a.m. in the morning, where we didn't have time to read them all, I was able to get to the point in the bill, I think it was around page 900-something, where there was a fund created in there to help pay people who lose their jobs as a result of that bill. Although we heard from people across the aisle no one would lose their jobs as a result of that bill, it turns out the people that actually wrote that bill, whatever special interest group it was, perhaps Wall Street, because they are going to be engorged with riches if that bill passes and more union jobs will be lost, it will be a disaster for working America.

But whoever wrote it realized there are going to be a lot of good Americans lose their jobs if that bill passes. And if you go over a little further, there was a fund that would pay for moving expenses if people lost their job as a result of that bill and they could move within the United States to a place to get a job. Unfortunately, it didn't help people move to China and India and Argentina and other places where the jobs really moved.

So the good news for those in the Senate perhaps helped by anybody in the House, if they try to ram that crap-and-trade bill through during this short lame-duck session then the good news is there is a provision in that bill that will help them with their moving expenses and perhaps to give them a subsidy until they find another job because there is no question there's going to be people lose their job as a result of that bill if they vote for it during this lame-duck session when the public has made very clear, Don't you dare. So we'll see what happens.

But I see my good friend from Texas, also a former district judge, as was I, and I am proud to yield such time as he may use to my good friend from Texas (Mr. Poe).


Mr. GOHMERT. As I'm sure my friend knows, Juarez, just across the border from El Paso, which you've been discussing, is now called the murder capital of the world. There were 2,600 deaths in one year, last year, in Juarez. We didn't have that many American soldiers die in Iraq in a year. Yet right across the border from El Paso, right across the little river, is Juarez, the murder capital of the world. It is outrageous.

I never had the opportunity to be stationed at Fort Bliss. I had friends in the Army who were, and they always enjoyed Fort Bliss. I was at Fort Benning for my 4 years that I owed the military for my scholarship at A&M. It is amazing to me that we have the greatest military in the world, in the history of the world--they're the best equipped, the best trained military in history--and yet you go look at our border, at specifically the 32-mile stretch in Arizona that is national park area on the north side--Mexico is on the south side--and it's wilderness area. It's considered such. It's classified in the U.S. as wilderness area. So you can't take a vehicle. You can't take anything mechanical. The only people who use vehicles in that area are the violent drug smugglers. Then this administration, instead of helping Members of Congress and the President keep his oath--we're not providing a defense against all enemies foreign and domestic--they're putting up signs that, in essence, say, This area is used by violent drug smugglers who are illegally in our country, so we would recommend that American citizens use parks north of Interstate 8.

Excuse me. This is American soil. When anyone armed attacks American soil, it's an act of war. We've got people who are coming into the United States who have taken over part of our property, and the best this administration can do is put up a sign that says, Why don't you American citizens use the area north of Interstate 8 because we've just given this over to drug smugglers.

The only good news I see out of that is, for so long, I've been greatly concerned with the hypocrisy of this administration and its telling Israel, Just let Palestinians build illegal settlements and take over areas that are not theirs. Just let them take over. I thought how hypocritical for our U.S. administration to tell Israel, Just let people take over areas of your country they're not authorized to take over, because we would never allow that here in the U.S.

This brings me to the only good thing about violent illegal alien drug smugglers taking over American soil: At least we're not hypocritical anymore when we tell Israel just to let people take over land that's not theirs, because now this administration can say, Look, Israel. We're doing it here. We're letting people take over American soil that they shouldn't, so you can do it, too.

The fact is, of course, it shouldn't happen in either place. We have taken an oath to defend this country, this Constitution, against all enemies, foreign and domestic, and that includes illegal drug smugglers who are armed to the teeth at our border regions. We have an obligation. We took an oath.

Mr. POE of Texas. Will the gentleman yield?

Mr. GOHMERT. I will yield to my friend.

Mr. POE of Texas. Well, I think that the current plan really is a two-part plan. The plan isn't just to erect a few signs in Arizona, saying, We can't take care of you. Travel north of Interstate 8 and, as you mentioned, really secede the land south of Interstate 8 to the drug cartels. That may be part of the plan. That's plan A of a two-part plan.

Plan B, though, is: We're also, as the government, going to sue States that try to defend themselves.

So put up some signs and sue States that try to protect their citizens, like the State of Arizona, where both of these incidences are occurring.

I think it is tragic that the United States Government has gone to court and has spent who knows how much taxpayer money in suing a State that wants to protect the people of that State and wants to enact State laws that do what the Federal Government is supposed to do but which obviously it won't or cannot do.

Mr. GOHMERT. Well, I appreciate your bringing that point up. I overlooked part B of that plan, but that's what has happened, and that's a great point.

As my friend knows--but perhaps the Speaker is not aware--Judge Poe was one of the best known and probably would have been one of the best known judges, purveyors of justice, in all of Texas history, and I know my friend, Judge Poe, knows all about the case of Terry v. Ohio.

From that case, we got what law officers were taught to be a Terry Stop, which is where they can stop people and get identification. If anybody cares to go back to the sixties and read that opinion and then read the Arizona law, they'll actually find out that what Arizona passed is not near as intrusive as what a Terry Stop can be. I mean they've got guards within that bill that keep it from even reaching the extent of a full Terry Stop and of the authorization of law officers to use a Terry Stop.

So I've just been intrigued. Here you have an administration that refuses to follow the law, refuses to defend the law, refuses to defend sovereign American territory, and then takes that added step, as my friend points out, and sues a State that is just trying to protect its citizens.

It is heartbreaking, as I know my friend and I have tried kidnapping cases, to find out that an American city is the second biggest capital for kidnappings in the world--Arizona. You would think that any President who is trying to do his duty to this country would be outraged that people were being kidnapped in numbers in Phoenix which were bigger than in known organized crime refuges around the country.

Phoenix, Arizona?

You would think a President would come riding to the rescue, and all America would thank him and be grateful that they had elected a man who would come in and follow his oath and protect them from having a city in his country in which so many people are kidnapped. We are hearing every day about ransoms being demanded after kidnappings in Third World areas and in the Middle East. We heard on the news this morning about another kidnapping incident and ransom and about a ransom being paid. Yet it's not halfway around the world. It's going on in Arizona.

Then, as my friend pointed out earlier in his 5-minute speech about the poor Mexican investigator who gave his life just trying to look into the murder of an American citizen on Falcon Lake, I mean what does it take to provoke a President to fulfill his duty to protect this country? I really don't know. If that doesn't do it, what does it take?


Mr. GOHMERT. I appreciate my friend mentioning that, and certainly I know he travels to the border area of United States with Mexico on the Texas line, but just from personal example, I am routinely, at least once a year, down in that area. And for years, anytime I was down near Laredo with friends, we would cross the border into Nuevo Laredo and get some great Mexican food and walk around, and you could get some real bargains of different things around there. So my family always knew, when I came back from the area, I was going to bring back gifts from Nuevo Laredo, and yet I know at least in the last 10 years we have not crossed over into Nuevo Laredo. All the indications are that you just don't do that anymore; it's too risky.

So I would like to get back to the point where our friends to the south had safe enough areas where we could go back and forth without worrying about it, but it's not to that point right now.

I would also submit, I know there are people who have said repeatedly in the last year, we really wish that both sides of the aisle would work together, but now we've seen, you know, somebody is just not protecting the country, not protecting our sovereignty and our land, running up a $1.6 trillion deficit in 1 year, doing all those things. We understand you have got to fight that and it can't be bipartisan if one side is just insistent on doing that.

But I have a strong feeling that my friend, Judge Poe, and I would absolutely agree that if this President stepped up and said this situation will not stand where violent people on the Mexico-United States border intimidate, kill, kidnap, come across into our side, bring poison through drugs into America, we will not let that stand, I wouldn't care that he's a Democrat. I would stand up and give the greatest standing ovation, do anything we could to help and support a President doing the job he was sworn to. And I hope and pray that this President doesn't wait for someone to replace him in 2 years, that he will step up and say, you know, folks, I know I haven't done it in the past and I've let the violence go on too long, but it comes to an end and here's what we're going to do to stop it and step up and actually stop it. I have a feeling my friend wouldn't care either what party he was from. We would be in total support and do anything we could to help him.

I yield to the gentleman.


Mr. GOHMERT. Thank you. I appreciate so much that perspective from my friend from Texas, Judge Poe. It is outrageous what's going on. It is outrageous that we're allowing that kind of danger to permeate our border and we do nothing about it. It's time to get something done.

One other issue that I would like to get into in the remaining 20 minutes that we have here tonight is the tax rates. I heard my friend across the aisle taking that up in a 5-minute speech he gave earlier tonight, and he was saying that Republicans want to cut the current tax rate for the highest wage earners to 35 percent.

I have great respect for my friend. But the fact is, the highest tax rate right now is 35 percent. What we are trying desperately to avoid is the biggest tax increase in American history.

Now, Art Laffer--I think one of the most brilliant economists in the United States--did an incredible job in helping President Reagan steer our economy out of an economy worse than we have now. Because I remember well, during my time in the Army, we had more than 10 percent unemployment, we had more than 10 percent inflation, and interest rates were far above 10 percent. It was a rough time in America. And yet with Art Laffer's advice and guidance, President Reagan was able to turn the economy around completely within 3 years.

If President Reagan had taken Art Laffer's advice and in 1981 had cut taxes 30 percent, as Art Laffer points out, we could have had the whole economy turned around in '81. But since the Democrats had the majority and President Reagan had to negotiate to get to a 30 percent tax cut--and that full 30 percent didn't kick in until the last 20 percent was added to the 10, and the half-percent from the 2 years before--in 1983, the full 30 percent kicked in, and that's when the economy recovered. If we had done the full 30 percent in 1981, the recovery would have been then. It would have saved 2 years of absolute disaster economically in this country. But we didn't do that.

And, as Dr. Laffer pointed out back in January of this year to a small group of us, he felt like, by November, there would be signs of a recovery because on January 1, unless we do something quickly, the biggest tax increase in American history would take place. Capital gains would go up by 33 1/3 percent from 15 to 20 percent. It will absolutely devastate this economy. Every marginal rate goes up. The death tax comes back in full from 0 to 55 percent. So his comment, as I understood him, was that it would look like a recovery because people were starting to sell things and cash things out and get in a position for the biggest tax increase in American history on January 1. And it would look like a recovery, but it wouldn't be a real recovery. It's just people trying to get in position, take gains now this year before this massive tax increase.

So with respect and due deference to my friend, we're not talking about a tax cut here. We're talking about keeping the same tax rates. If my friends across the aisle--as the majority until the end of the year--were willing to talk about a true tax, a drop of 35 percent to 30, that would be fantastic. Because we know from history, when President Kennedy did it, President Reagan did it, President Bush did it, every time there was a meaningful tax cut, the Treasury of the United States exploded. It went higher than it had ever gone before each time.

The problem was not in lowering the taxes, which increased the economy--it gave people more income. That was not the problem. The Treasury was bigger than it had ever been. The problem was that we began to spend money like we had never spent before, and each time we got into higher deficits because we weren't controlling spending. Had we increased the revenue by cutting taxes and controlling spending, we would have had a balanced budget immediately. It would have been fantastic. But that's not what happened. We have seen that in Ireland. They had a tax decrease previously, years ago, and manufacturing jobs flooded into Ireland. But they didn't control their spending as they should, and now they're in trouble. So that's the key, control spending.

And I know there are those who say, We should go back to 2008 for the budget. I'm not one of those people because I remember as a freshman in 2006 being beat up by people across the aisle because we were spending way too much money. And since I know we could go back and capture speeches from the Record of friends across the aisle who said we were spending far too much money in 2006, we needed to cut that deficit spending. Since I know people across the aisle said that, then I submit humbly we go back to the 2006 budget, the one they complained about, saying it was spending too much money. We go back to that one. If it was spending too much money, then surely there couldn't be much objection across the aisle. If we're going back to that one, that they said spent too much money--of course that was before the ensuing budgets that the Democratic majority produced, which doesn't include this year when they didn't live up to the requirement to produce a budget. But these more recent budgets were just deficit spending on steroids, and it's got to stop. Solution, go back to 2006.

You know, since my wife and I cashed out our assets, retirement accounts and all, for us to run for Congress, you know, that's what responsible people do when you have to pay things. You cash out assets. I agree with Art Laffer. It's time to start cashing out the things we bought as a government that we had no business, if we're a true free market country, of ever buying. We divest ourselves for a big price of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac. We divest ourselves of the car company ownership we currently have. There's no way that's not a socialist activity when the government takes over private enterprise.

And I know the President has such close friends in the current Speaker, and our friends across the aisle have such dear friends on Wall Street, and that's why they donated four to one--four times more to the President, current President and the Democratic majority, than they do to Republicans. I get it. They're the friends. They work together. In fact, they're such close friends, the guys on Wall Street don't mind so much when the President and the Democratic majority bash their friends over and over and over here in Washington because their friends know that's the price. Getting bashed verbally allows them to keep funneling money in massive amounts to Wall Street, including through the Federal Reserve, including managing government money so that Goldman Sachs, of course, was able to have the biggest profit in their history last year. Who knows how good it was this year. Good for Wall Street, good for Goldman Sachs. Heck, their investment of giving four times more to this President and the Democratic majority than they do Republicans paid in droves for them. It just was great. It may be another banner year for them now, but it's got to stop. Americans are getting hurt across the country. It's got to stop.

And so one of the other things we've seen--people don't remember so much--but in January of 2009 when this President took over and the Democratic majority in this House had had a 2-year headstart, and because of the terrible example set by the prior Republican President in pushing through a $700 billion Wall Street bailout, they were able to push through what was thought to be about an $800 billion stimulus, porkulus, whatever one may wish to call it, which turns out now $900 billion, maybe $1 trillion. We're still not sure. It's through the roof. People notice that. It made voters irate, and they showed that in November of this year.

But most people didn't notice the next week, the $400 billion land omnibus bill. What does that mean? It means the Federal Government was going to take $400 billion and buy more land.

The Federal Government already owns more than half of the land west of the line through Texas to North Dakota. And yet they want to buy more land. When you run a deficit that this administration has been running, then it's time to say, you know what, we shouldn't be buying land.

And we haven't found out yet just how much of that $400 billion has been squandered buying land, doing sweetheart deals with people they want to do them with and buying their land. But whatever has been bought ought to be sold. Whatever has not been spent needs to be cut off.

Some have said, well, where would you get the $700 billion to avoid raising these massive taxes?

They don't get it. They need to check the current news articles about States and cities that have raised taxes on wealthy people, like I will never be, but raised taxes on them. They ended up losing money by raising taxes, which takes you back to the Laffer Curve. You can only raise the taxes so much, which keeps increasing the Federal revenue. But once you cross that threshold where you've taxed too much, and you add tax beyond that, then you've hurt the economy and the tax revenue decreases.

So my friends across the aisle may try, in this lame-duck session, to do the unthinkable and raise taxes on people, force taxes to go up by playing a class warfare game, playing the game that our Founders detested because all Americans were Americans. No Americans were hyphenated back then. They were just Americans; which is why, on our great seal, the ribbon on the eagle's mouth has three Latin words, E Pluribus Unum: Out of many, one. We come together as one.

It's time to stop the class warfare. It's time to stop. It's time to stop luring young women into a rut from which they can never get out by saying, come on, come on, keep having babies out of wedlock, we'll keep paying you for them, and you'll get to a level of income as a single mom, with children, that will never go up. You have no hope of getting out of that hole. That's what we saw for 30 years from the Great Society legislation to the mid-90s, until welfare reform took place.

Cast it any way you want to, but the fact is, when welfare reform took place, for the first time in 30 years, single women with children had income that, when adjusted for inflation, went up, went up dramatically.

And now the unthinkable has occurred this year in the ObamaCare bill. They included the rescinding of the welfare reform that was done by the Republican--new Republican majority in the 90s. It was taken away.

We have now sentenced young women, single moms, desperate to get out of their rut, to remain in their rut for the rest of their lives, or until such time as we remove those enslaving provisions from the ObamaCare, and allow single moms with children to once again get back on the uphill climb with making more income after adjusted for inflation than they had in the 30 years before with the Great Society legislation.

I know it was well intentioned back in the 60s. I get it. I understand that. It was because of hearts full for young women trying to raise children with deadbeat dads that wouldn't contribute. I get that. But what was done instead was sentence these sad situations to a hole they couldn't get out of.

It's time to do what a government is supposed to do. I know some don't believe in the Bible, but, for those that do, you look at Romans 13. A government is different from individuals. It's not to turn the other cheek. It's not to steal people's money by passing a law that allows you to steal their money against their will and give it to charities that only the government supports. That's not part of it.

It is supposed to protect the people, punish evil, and really incentivize good conduct and to help people reach their potential. Instead of enslaving young women, as the Great Society legislation did, good grief, we should have incentivized them to finish their education.

Instead of having 99 weeks of unemployment insurance to pay people not to work, and, yes, I know there are people who are out of work who have been trying for hours and hours every day to find new employment, but the overall studies don't indicate that that's the average. That's the exception. Generally, people only spend less than an hour a day or less than an hour a week until the last couple of weeks of their unemployment, then they begin to seek employment.

If we're going to do what some would consider the biblical approach of government, to punish evil but reward and incentivize good conduct, then we would eliminate the marriage penalty. Why penalize marriage?

And we would incentivize people finishing their education, not paying them to have babies out of wedlock and not to finish school. We would be incentivizing them to reach their God-given potential before it's too late.

That's what a caring government does. That's what it should do. That's what it ought to be about. End the class warfare.

Now, I was asked recently, well, now, you've advocated eliminating the Department of Education. And yet you've also talked about schools ought to provide vocational training. Right on both counts. $68 billion budget, throw another $10 billion in there this year, and for what? Pays the Department of Education, have lots and lots of bureaucrats, take a hunk of the money for themselves, dole out the rest.

And I get it. I've got friends, Republicans, Democrats on school boards across the country who've said we've become so enslaved, so reliant on Federal money, we'll be broke as a school system if you cut off the funds immediately.

So what I think would be more fair, would be more constitutional is just say, we eliminate the Department of Education, and then we'll take that money and we will have a formula to distribute it to the schools across the country. And they'll get a lot more money. And then over, say, a 5-year period--I'm flexible--we could compromise on what would be a good way to do it. You provide a formula that the States and the people, under the 10th Amendment, pick up their obligation to support education and take it away from the Federal Government. We cut the required contributions to other areas, whether it's Medicaid or something else. We incentivize them to take over their constitutional obligation. Since education's not an enumerated power under the Constitution, it's reserved under the 10th Amendment to the States and people.

Let the local control take over, because when there was no Federal control and when I was going through school, high schools had vocational training. You didn't have to go to college to make a great living. You could study auto repair at our high school. You could learn to be a carpenter. You could learn to weld. You could learn all kinds of great trades and go immediately into a good job, and you're way ahead in income than those people that went to college. In four or five years eventually they catch up and went further with the money they received. But they were great livings. And we need people doing those jobs.

And one final comment as my time is about to expire: I heard Donald Trump say on Greta Van Susteren that the solution is to put a 25 percent tax on everything we buy from China. I couldn't believe it. You're going to start a trade war with somebody we owe over $1 trillion to? You think that's smart? You don't realize we'll lose great jobs, union jobs, nonunion jobs across America?

How about, instead, doing something that doesn't trigger a trade war, that doesn't cause us to be penalized around the world? How about, instead, eliminating the 35 percent tariff we put on our own products for people in other countries trying to buy them? It is called a corporate tax.

If you eliminate the 35 percent tariff we have got on our own products, union jobs and nonunion jobs will come flooding back into America, because we could compete with anybody if you take off that insidious tax that tells people across America: You don't have to pay it; the evil corporations will pay it.

Those corporations pass it on. If they don't, they don't stay in business. Yet they have lost jobs across this country, union jobs and nonunion jobs, flooding across to other nations because of the tariff of 35 percent we slap on our own products, making them uncompetitive.

It is time to get this country competitive again. Bring back the jobs to America in the way that we know best, as a free market society, at the same time we protect our borders and stop the crazy deficit spending.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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