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Mr. REED. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to have an important discussion that we should focus on, I believe, here in the House, in the Senate, and in the White House. That is a discussion focusing on jobs. We need to get America back to work. We have been focusing now on this side of the aisle, in our committee work, day after day after day to present proposals. We've moved them. We've adopted them here in the House. The focus is on policies that are going to promote the private sector, that are going to promote the development of an environment where people will take the risk and become job creators and put people back to work here in America.
I talk often in my office back in the district, as I go out to town hall meetings and have conversations with people as I go down the street to our local supermarket and to our local stores. I focus on four areas that we need to adopt legislation on here in Washington, D.C., or repeal legislation on in Washington, D.C., that will create an environment where jobs will be created for generations to come.
The first and probably the most appropriate and important focus that we should be spending time on today is the question of getting our fiscal house in order. We have had a lot of debate over the last few months, weeks, about this debt ceiling that's coming to roost and the vote that we're going to have to take here in the House, I would imagine. One of the reasons why that issue is so critical to us at this point in time is we need to demonstrate to the world that America is going to get its fiscal house in order once and for all so that our markets recognize that we are serious about this issue, that we recognize that $14 trillion of national debt is just not sustainable and that it really will destroy America as we know it, and, more importantly, what it will do when we send a message. If we can adopt a policy here out of Washington, D.C., that deals with the debt ceiling but fundamentally deals with the underlying debt, it will send a message that the American market is something that you can invest in again, around the world, that foreign investors, domestic investors, will have the confidence and the certainty that America is a place to invest your dollars, your foreign currency, to create the new environment, the new marketplaces, the new facilities, the new manufacturers, the new industrial base to put people back to work again.
I am extremely confident that we here in the House of Representatives, and particularly on our side of the aisle, can come to a reasonable solution to this debt ceiling issue and do it in such a way that takes care of the debt ceiling crisis but that also takes care of the underlying debt crisis that put us into this situation and will continue to put us in this situation unless we get serious and deal with it now. This is the time. This is the moment. And that will send that indication to the world that America is strong, and we can invest here and put people back to work.
The second thing that I tell people as I go around and I talk to them in my district and I talk to people on the street and see them as we go down the road is that what we need to do in Washington, D.C., is to set the agenda out of the House that will create an environment where regulations out of Washington, D.C., are cut, are repealed, are streamlined, so the bureaucratic red tape that our job creators, that the private sector in America faces day in and day out--as a private business owner myself before I came to this Chamber, starting and opening four businesses, I can tell you, as I went through employing people and taking the responsibility and taking the risk of putting my capital on the line, putting my family on the line for all the time and the resources that we committed into it, the bureaucracy that I dealt with in creating those businesses and putting those people back to work was mind-boggling.
I talk to business owners all across America and people that want to go out and start their own businesses, and what they tell me is all I want to do is manufacture my widget, all I want to do is go out and provide the service that I enjoy doing, that I have made my career or my passion in life. But yet what I find myself doing when I go down this path is complying with paperwork, complying with regulations, spending hours upon hours--not innovating, not creating new technology, not figuring out a better way to deliver services at a better price and in a better fashion or creating a new widget or creating a new product in a more efficient manner. I spend hours filling out paperwork to comply with regulations coming out of Washington, D.C., and out of my State capitol.
And I will tell you, that resonates with me. That's why we need a policy here in Washington, D.C., that calls upon every regulatory body in Washington to look at the impacts of their regulations from an economic point of view, how it's going to impact that creation, that innovation of the private sector in a negative way, and balance that in relationship to what the goal of the regulation is.
And sometimes those goals are very good. A lot of our environmental laws are reasonable and regulations are reasonable, but they take a balanced approach to accomplishing what we all want--clean air, clean water, a clean environment to pass on to our kids and to the next generation.
But at the same time, we can't do it without recognizing that if we kill the American way of life, that there will be no America for our children to enjoy. So we have to have a commonsense, balanced, reasonable approach to this government and this regulatory expansion that's coming out of Washington that needs to be crippled and needs to be cut and needs to be repealed.
So I have focused a lot of my effort--and a lot of my colleagues have spent a lot of time--talking about and implementing legislation that will cut the agency's ability to promulgate those regulations that will destroy America unless they're reined in. So we need to focus on that second point.
The third point, I have talked to so many folks about our Tax Code until I'm blue in the face. As a member of the Ways and Means Committee, I can tell you that going through the 70,000 pages plus of the Tax Code and the tax regulations is mind-numbing. And the problem is that we're forcing all Americans to try to comply with that Code. We have talked about this.
Since we took the majority, since I came here in November as an elected new Member of Congress, I have spent a tremendous amount of time trying to advocate for comprehensive tax reform that will streamline the Code, make it much more competitive, bring down the corporate rates and the individual rates to a point, with the pass-through entities that have to be taken care of, so that we are competitive on the world stage in dealing with our Tax Code.
I was glad to see the President the other day talking about, in this debt ceiling debate, how he was targeting some loopholes and exemptions and the corporate jets. Like we're here on the Republican side, we came to Congress, we left our families, we left our businesses because we want to protect corporate jets. Come on. That's not being honest with the American people. We have been talking about comprehensive tax reform from day one. We're ready to go. I'm glad the President now has conceded that that's where we have to go and that's part of the debt ceiling conversation, and it needs to be.
So the bottom line is is we make that Tax Code more competitive. We streamline it so honest, hardworking Americans can comply with it, and we revamp the Code, reform the Code in such a way that it's a competitive Tax Code that doesn't excessively burden those in the private sector and all taxpayers across America with that tax burden that's just going to kill America if we don't get this spending under control, which those revenues from the Tax Code go to take care of.
The fourth point that I stress to people as I go around and I talk to them is that we need a domestic-orientated energy policy that taps into our energy in such a way that it's comprehensive, it is an all-of-the-above approach. And what I mean by that is, when I was the Mayor of the City of Corning and we would have people coming in and talking to us about siting a new facility or a new manufacturing base or a new operation, there was always the part of the conversation that we got to that was, Okay, why should I invest in the City of Corning in the State of New York? What are your tax rates? What is the tax burden I'm looking at? What are the insurance costs that I'm going to have to pick up by coming to the State of New York, the City of Corning?
The other issue that was repeatedly discussed in the top three of those conversations was, what are your utility costs? What is the cost to me, for producing this new product or this new technology going to run me? And that's where, if we have a comprehensive energy policy focused on domestic supplies of energy, not only will we be taking care of a national security issue with having these supplies of energy being produced from domestic sources of things such as natural gas from the Marcellus shale, or Utica shale in my part of the State, or shell formations and tight sand formations all across America, but we have oil supplies that have been identified and are available to us. If we just unleash those resources, we have to say we go after these energy sources in a clean, responsible manner, environmentally safe.
And everybody I talk to supports that on our side of the aisle. No one here is going to destroy the environment for the sake of getting energy out of the ground, for the sake of hurting our children or our grandchildren. That's not what we stand for. But we stand for focusing on those energy supplies that are here and promote those energy supplies so that we have a source of energy that's dependable, that will provide us with long-term, low-cost sources of energy supplies to our manufacturing and industrial bases and reignite America again so that we become a powerhouse in the area of employment and put our people back to work.
So those are four key principles that we bring to the table. And one additional piece that I'd like to talk about tonight that is ripe and ready for us to take is the expansion of opportunities of our exports.
We have three free trade agreements that are ready to go. We have South Korea; we have Colombia; we have Panama. They have been negotiated. There has been a long history, many years of going back and forth with these countries and asking these countries to engage in honest negotiations that deal with all the issues that you deal with when you enter into a free trade agreement. And both parties--we as the United States of America, the Governments of South Korea, Colombia, and Panama--have come to the table in good faith, and we have finally gotten to the point where we are ready to move on these agreements. All the issues have been negotiated. All the issues of the free trade agreements have been taken care of. Now, I know there is an issue in Washington, D.C., that we're still dealing with when it comes to trade adjustment assistance, but, fundamentally, the free trade agreements have been negotiated and worked out with these countries, and we're ready to go.
But what are we doing? We're waiting on the White House to send them up here. We're waiting on the President, who set, in his State of the Union message, a goal of doubling our exports. A great goal. I applaud the goal. But in order to double our exports out of America, we've got to create an environment in which the private sector flourishes, such as those four points, and focus on those four points that I just talked about. But we also have to expand the markets upon which those new products and our existing products can be sold to so that we can increase and meet that export goal. That's why I supported the free trade agreements when I came to Congress and as I went out on the campaign trail.
We have three great agreements that are ready to move, be moved, and ready to be voted on, and I think have strong support on both sides of the aisle. Under the President's own numbers, these three agreements are looking to create at least 250,000 jobs. This is coming out of his administration. The agencies under his control are projecting that these agreements will provide opportunities for at least 250,000 new jobs. To me, this is a no-brainer. We shouldn't be haggling back and forth and trying to figure out what's holding these agreements up, ready for a vote. These countries have negotiated with us in good faith. We've had those hard negotiations, and now we're ready to go. The President even mentioned the other day on TV when I was watching some news reports that he wants to move forward on these agreements, but yet he hasn't sent them up to the Congress, as he's required to do by our laws, in order to get them implemented.
I think it's troublesome when you hear the President talk about setting a goal of increasing exports by 50 percent and say to the public that he is committed to these free trade agreements and that all Congress has to do is pass them, but yet when you look at the details, all he has to do is send it up to Congress, and we'll take care of it. But he hasn't taken the step necessary to do that, and that is solely under his control to do.
So I call upon the President: Send these free trade agreements up. We're ready to go. We have support. Let's open up the South Korean markets. Let's open up the Colombian market. Let's open up the Panama markets. Let's give our people in America the benefits of these new export opportunities that each of these countries represents.
I come from a part of the State of New York where we have a lot of wine, grape growers, wine producers, apple growers. And I will tell you, in the agricultural area, this is going to be a great asset in particular. These markets will represent new sources of opportunity to farmers who have been plowing and working this land for generations. Yet we here in Washington, D.C., just cannot figure out how to get this done because the President won't send it up for us to get the process taken care of. So I call upon the President to move on these free trade agreements as soon as possible. He's indicated to the American public his support for them. He indicates that he's ready to pass them and sign them. And I'll just tell you, I'm here to call him out on it and say, We need to do it. Let's do it.
One other thing I wanted to talk about tonight is kind of my concern about the whole issue of this debt ceiling debate and where we're going with it. And I'll tell you, I am greatly concerned about the political rhetoric that we seem now to be committed to. I see us in Washington, D.C., going down a path where we're talking about situations where we're going to hold back Social Security checks, we're going to hold back payments for funding our troops, and I just don't see how that's productive.
What we have is a debt problem. We have clearly articulated a plan on this side of the aisle. We have come up with budgets that we've passed out of this House. We have put down on paper proposals of where cuts could be made. We went through the whole process of H.R. 1 back and forth for 7 days, with an open debate on the floor of the House in front of the American people, identifying areas that could be cut and that could be streamlined, and we laid out our plan. It's in black and white. But today, I still don't know where the President of the United States is.
I hear a lot of news reports about some type of position that the President has taken on $4 trillion, and it supposedly has $3 trillion worth of cuts and $1 trillion worth of tax increases. I've never seen that. Actually, I've heard discussions that have cited sources in the White House or sources off the Hill that show the package having $3 trillion of tax increases with only $1 trillion worth of cuts. Now, I don't know if that's the case, because I don't know what the President's really standing for because I have never seen it in black and white. But what I would ask is that the President put it on a piece of paper, because if he's asking me as a Member of Congress to support debt ceiling relief in exchange for $3 trillion worth of new taxes, I'm not going to do that because that taxes everybody in America, every man and woman and business in America. It violates a campaign pledge made by the President in his campaign where he would not raise taxes on the middle class. So I want to see what he's proposing.
I am greatly concerned that we're also at the point where we need to have this conversation in front of the American people. We need to have the American people weigh in on what the detailed proposal is. You know, we've been very transparent; we've been very open--we here in the House, especially on this side of the aisle. The House Republicans have put the budget out, have gone through H.R. 1, have put documents out that have been scored by the CBO as to what impact they'll have financially. But we haven't seen anything from the President. And the American people deserve the opportunity to know where the President is at in these discussions.
What we cannot do, we cannot get to the 11th hour and say, Here it is, America. Take it or leave it. That's just not right. That's just not responsible governing. What we need to do is have a thoughtful, honest debate back and forth with our positions.
Mr. President, you said the other day, Don't call my bluff. I'm going to go to the American people.
I tell you, Go to the American people.
I want to go to the American people. I came to Congress to have this discussion in the open, in front of the world, because it's time. We need to. And until we see a plan, we can't have that honest debate that our forefathers, our Founding Fathers, and so many have sacrificed to give us, the transparency of democracy, the transparency to come to this Chamber that is filled with so much history and have the debate.
Go to the Senate floor and go into the living rooms of the American public and say, This is what we're talking about. This is what we're fighting about.
Now I am ready to have that debate. I'm ready to have that conversation, and I know at the end of the day where I will come out. I will stand for a product that gets this Nation taken care of for generations because its fiscal house is, once and for all, taken care of. If that means we have to compromise, we'll compromise, but let's have it. We can only compromise upon which we know. That is why it is so important that the President come forth in written fashion with his proposal.
I sent a letter to the White House today with many of my colleagues in the freshman class, of which I am a proud member, calling upon him to do that, and hopefully he will do that. My intent is to go down there physically next week with, hopefully, numerous other members of the freshman class and stand in front of the White House and say, Hey, we're new Members of Congress. We're here to have the conversation. We're ready to act. Give us what you stand for. Put in black and white what you stand for and what your position is, and let's debate. We're ready to go.
So the bottom line is that as we go down this path through this debt ceiling crisis--and we do have two crises. We have the debt ceiling crisis that everyone knows about, August 2, but we have the underlying debt crisis that causes us to have this debt ceiling problem that we now face. We have to take care of both because--make no mistake about it--if we just do a simple raise the debt ceiling or something gimmicky that gets us through that August 2 or whatever the final date shall be and if we do it in such a way that there's really no meat on the bone and there is no substance to the proposal--make no mistake about it--the world markets are going to look right through that and see right through it, and they're going to say, You guys are not serious about this $14 trillion worth of debt. You guys in America are not serious about getting $1.6 trillion of annual budget deficits under control.
Do you know what? We have an obligation now to advise all of those members of the world who are going to invest in America that this is not that AAA rating that we have all enjoyed since 1917, I believe. That America will be downgraded on its debt regardless if we default or not because we have not taken the moment; we have not seized the moment to be honest with the American people and with the world and said we're going to get it taken care of.
That's where I am at. I am ready to get it taken care of. That's what I came to Washington, D.C., to do. That's what I know many of my fellow colleagues in the freshman class came to Washington, D.C., to do. We don't care about reelection. We don't care about politics. We're talking about the substance that will make sure that America is here for generations to come.
A few of my other colleagues had intended to join us this evening, but I know we have a tradition here in the House that I am becoming aware of with the baseball game that's going on between the Democrats and the Republicans. And I think as they attend to that--and that's a great tradition, and I applaud my colleagues for taking the time to continue on in that tradition--I know I have got another Member potentially coming down here, I have been given word.
I don't stand on these issues alone. I don't stand with these comments in a vacuum. I don't stand here today as one man in 435 Members of Congress who believes in what I am articulating. There is an army of people in Washington who are standing with me and with whom I am standing who believe the same way: that it is time to get our fiscal house in order, that it is time to advance an agenda out of Washington, D.C., that once and for all shows a firm commitment to the private sector and reins in government so that government does not kill the private sector and the dreams of all the Americans that are yet to come.
So I am looking forward to continuing this debate and moving forward on the issues that we have talked about. And as we deal with these issues, I do it mindful of the situation that we face on a day-to-day basis of the politics of Washington, D.C. But I will tell you, even though I am aware of those politics, the issues that we are talking about today--the issues that we are facing--transcend politics.
I was pleased today that I was able to get an amendment offered on the floor in some of the debates in our appropriations process where I reached across the aisle, to a colleague of mine from Buffalo from the other side, and we legislated. We adopted policy. We adopted an amendment to that appropriations bill that I think is going to be good for America. And it showed I think in that instance to me, and I hope to many others, that we can work together, that we can work together in a bipartisan fashion to tackle the issues that are facing America such as that which we took care of today between Mr. Higgins and myself. And that philosophy is alive and well.
I know the press likes to gin up headlines based on the partisan debate that we often have here in the Chamber, and they try to paint us all as we are in one camp on the Republican side and they are in the other camp on the Democratic side. I can tell you, in living it day to day, that truly is not the case. There are many good people on both sides of the aisle that are more than willing to sit down and talk to each other and try to work out these issues.
But a lot of times that rhetoric, those headlines, cause us to act in ways that are extremely divisive and kill that bipartisan effort and support that we should be nurturing and promoting. That's why, today, I was
pleased to see the results of that effort on our behalf and on Mr. Higgins' behalf to pass that legislation.
So I am going to continue along those avenues. I am going to call out and hold people accountable for their positions. There's nothing wrong with that. There's nothing wrong with having a good, old-fashioned, honest debate and passionately disagreeing with people with different philosophies so long as you do it in an honest and respectful manner.
I work day to day whenever I get into a disagreement with some of my colleagues and also Members from the other side of the aisle, and I always start with the premise, okay, where are you coming from? Why do you believe you are right? And I try to look at it truly from the eyes of the people that have the contrary opinion. Many times that has opened up my eyes and allowed me to learn from that exchange and strengthen my position, maybe cause my position to bend a little bit or, as I learn and grow, to maybe change those positions. But I can tell you that we should always start by having that conversation.
I have seen where a lot of times people don't want to do that. They don't want to really take the effort, or make the effort, or take the time to really try to look at it through the eyes of the other person, understand where they're coming from and what their philosophy is really all about. I think if we at least do that, if we at least promise to each other that we're willing to do that, this Chamber would work tremendously much better as a body, as a whole. My colleagues in the Senate would also be working in a much better fashion. And as we work with the White House and with the President of the United States, we could also develop that type of relationship.
So I encourage all my colleagues and all my friends to continue with that effort, as I pledge here today to do. As we go forward, I guess I will keep that in heart, and I will continue to do my part in that effort.
As I started this conversation tonight, ladies and gentlemen of America and Mr. Speaker, this is about jobs. This is about adopting a philosophy, a new culture in America that recognizes that the private sector is that engine that's going to be the spark of this economic recovery, and we need to focus on that. We need to expand on our opportunities that are right before us with these free trade agreements when you talk about South Korea, Colombia, and Panama.
I would ask all my colleagues to always focus on getting Americans back to work because, if we do that, we will have a recovery, and we will address much of this budget deficit problem because of the increased revenue that will come from that expansion of getting people back to work and getting that economy going; and we will have a much better world upon which to legislate going forward.
Mr. Speaker, with that, I yield back the balance of my time.
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