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Black History Month

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. CLYBURN. I thank the gentlelady for yielding me

this time, and I want to thank her for organizing this Special Order in honor of Black History Month. But I want to take a few minutes to talk about the future.

Last December, when faced with the prospect that tax rates for the richest 2 percent of Americans would rise to where they were in the 1990s, when we balanced the budget and enjoyed unprecedented prosperity, Republicans decided that extending these unnecessary and unaffordable tax cuts was their number one priority.

As we all remember, they held much-needed relief to the middle class hostage, and they got their tax cut for millionaires and billionaires. According to the Joint Committee on Taxation, this tax is adding $39 billion to the deficit this year and will add even more next year.

Speaker Boehner has said that our national debt is a moral issue, and I agree with him. We need to act to curb our exploding deficits and mounting debt. But Republicans and Democrats have different approaches to the problem. The Republicans' approach is the irresponsible continuing resolution that was passed by this House 10 days ago. Republicans would cut $600 million from the COPS program and $256 million from the State and Local Law Enforcement Assistance Program, which would make our streets less safe. Republicans would cut $75 million from the Legal Services Corporation, which would deny legal services to the victims of domestic violence. Republicans would cut $53 million from the Food Safety and Inspection Service, which would threaten public health.

Republicans would completely eliminate family planning funding, which would result in more unplanned pregnancies and more abortions. Adding insult to injury, Republicans would cut $758 million from Women, Infants and Children, which would deny these mothers and children the nutrition they need to begin life on the right track.

Republicans would cut Pell Grants by 15 percent, which would deny young people the opportunity to get a college education. I could go on, but I think you get my point: The cuts in the Republican continuing resolution are shortsighted, counterproductive, and the wrong way to cut the deficit. And the one community, or the communities, that will suffer the most are minority communities in this country, and that includes the black communities, black students, black mothers, and black infants, as well.

Mark Zandi, the former economic adviser to the McCain campaign, said that these cuts will destroy 700,000 jobs and stall our economic recovery, which would lessen future revenues and further exacerbate the debt problem. And a Goldman Sachs' economist warned that the Republican plan could reduce our Nation's economic growth by 1.5 to 2 percent in the second and third quarters of this year.

Maybe I should amend my previous statement: the cuts in the Republican CR are shortsighted, counterproductive, and may not even cut the deficit.

We need a smarter approach. We need an approach of shared sacrifice, not sacrifice by the most vulnerable. We do need to cut the deficit. But there are different ways to cut the deficit, and I believe the Republicans have chosen the wrong way.

Democrats offer a better approach. We can cut the deficit by at least $61 billion in such a manner that helps, doesn't hurt, struggling Americans, our economy, and our shared future. First, as I mentioned before, we need to get rid of, once and for all, the tax cuts for the richest 2 percent of Americans. It is too late to save the $39 billion that we wasted this year, but we could save more than that next year.

Next, I think we need to get rid of special tax preferences for oil and gas companies, many of which were instituted by Republicans the last time they were in the majority. This would save $44 billion over the next 10 years.

There is no good reason to keep these subsidies in place. The oil companies have said themselves that they don't need them. John Hofmeister, the former CEO of Shell Oil, said on February 11, ``In the face of sustained high oil prices it was not an issue--for large companies--of needing the subsidies to entice us into looking for and producing more oil.''

Next, Defense Secretary Gates has called for $78 billion in defense cuts over the next 5 years, saying that these funds can be cut without putting national security at risk. We should listen to him.

I want to thank my friend from the Virgin Islands for allowing me to speak here this evening. I do believe that if we focus on these continuing resolutions that we have been debating, we can have a much better future than the history has been for African Americans in this country.


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