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Public Statements


Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Ms. SUTTON. I thank the gentleman for his leadership. Representative Garamendi has been a strong voice for the people of this country, standing up for the middle class, and it is my privilege to join you down here on behalf of the hardworking people of Ohio.

I think that we begin by noting that we think that the true measure of America's economic success is the well-being of American families, not just the stock market or corporate profits. Now, I know that you've already talked about this, but it's just so important that we focus on the fact that the promise of America must be for all Americans, not just the wealthy few.

So we come to this floor and we once again look at a couple of things. One of them--we've heard it many times, but it bears repeating--you know, even some of those who have done so well in America now are calling on us to have them do well by America. We've heard Warren Buffett say--here's a chart that shows that his income was $46 billion, his tax rate is 17.7 percent. His secretary's income is $60,000 and his secretary's tax rate is 30 percent. And to quote Warren Buffett, he says: ``My friends and I have been coddled long enough by a billionaire-friendly Congress.'' So even he is calling on Congress, and we join him in that call because it's so important that we focus on what is the backbone of this country. What makes this country so great is the strength of its middle class, and we know that it has been squeezed and squeezed and squeezed.

We are now in a place where one in four homeowners are under water. That means owing more on their mortgage than their house is even worth. We know that college tuition and fees increased about 300 percent over the last 20 years, and graduates are now leaving school with an average debt of $24,000. Taxes for the richest 400 Americans were sliced in half as their income quadrupled and now are paying only 17 percent.

Now, this is a complicated problem, and it's a serious problem; but the good news is that it doesn't have to be this way. We all know that the key, the solution to strengthening this great country and restoring the promise of the middle class lies in getting people back to work.

So I'm very happy to hear you talking about your bill that deals with making sure that we're buying American--iron, steel and manufacturing goods--when we move into new industries in the future. And I have a number of bills that require the use of iron and steel and manufactured goods made in America when we build our infrastructure, which, of course, is one of the key components, that building of our Nation's infrastructure that our President is trying to make happen with the American Jobs Act.

Why do we need to do that? Obviously we need to put people back to work, but we also have this: We have more than 2,700 miles of our roads in need of repair. That's greater than the distance between Washington, D.C., and San Francisco, California. Now, that's from the Research and Innovative Technology Administration at the U.S. Department of Transportation. So we know that the need is extraordinary.

What would this mean for our workers? Under the American Jobs Act, building new jobs for nearly 2 million unemployed construction workers. Can you imagine?

We know that when we strengthen our infrastructure, we strengthen our middle class and we strengthen our Nation as a whole and its place in the world.

So, with that, thank you again, Representative Garamendi, for being down here fighting the fight, because we can do things differently and get different results, results that work, not just for the privileged few, not just for the billionaires and millionaires, but for people out there who want nothing more than a chance, a fair chance at the American Dream.


Ms. SUTTON. It's called Stop American Jobs from Going Down the Drain Act.

Mr. GARAMENDI. I thought I heard you correctly.

Ms. SUTTON. That's correct. And it's very simple because it deals with our water and our sewer infrastructure, which is in desperate need of rebuilding in this country. And as we rebuild it, we can even multiply the jobs out if, as this bill requires, we use American iron, steel, and manufactured goods, because then the ripple effects of putting those folks who work in those industries, our ironworkers, our steelworkers, those who work in manufacturing, they also will have the benefit of us building out, in addition to our construction workers.


Ms. SUTTON. Absolutely. Ohio is in need, and I think it's important that we look at not just the cost that we're experiencing today from the failure to put people to work doing this work that needs to be done in our schools, building our Nation's infrastructure, which needs serious attention, according to all of the estimates and all of the surveys out there. The fact of the matter is, it's important to look at the long-term effects, too. Because those schools, if we fail to invest in education, whether it's in the physical facilities or education in general--which is another place that some of our colleagues across the aisle want to cut back.

The American Jobs Act is going to put more teachers in the schools. One of the things that we do is we choke off our future because other countries, make no mistake, they're investing in education because they know that that creates a better future, not just for the children and the students themselves, but for their Nation and the strength of their Nation.

They're also investing in their infrastructure for the same reason, because having an up-to-date, a state-of-the-art infrastructure is going to strengthen their competitiveness. It's going to strengthen their place in the world.

And while others are doing that, here we are with all of this work that needs to be done that would add to the value of our Nation which is so great in the first instance. But there is no substitute for creating real value.

In this last recession, we saw the very risky proposition of people on Wall Street moving money around, not creating any real value. You would think that more would have learned the lesson, because we need to have strong infrastructure. When you put people to work building things, you're creating real value. When you put people to work in manufacturing and you take something of lesser value and you turn it into something of greater value, that cannot be replaced with the smoke-and-mirrors trading that we saw going on before the recession.


Ms. SUTTON. Thank you so much, Representative Garamendi.

It seems there are some here in this body, and, with all due respect, there are a lot of folks who come to Congress and they're fairly well-heeled themselves. It seems that some who are here, they seem fixated on protecting those tax breaks that ship jobs overseas. They seem very concerned about that top 1 percent, the billionaires and the millionaires.

It seems as if they almost believe that we can fix this country's economy without making most Americans better off, which is a backwards proposition. It's almost like they think that the top 1 percent is who built this country, and that that's where all of our policies should be aimed.

But I disagree and I know, Representative Garamendi, that you do as well. We understand that when we have people working, building infrastructure and making things and manufacturing, that that has a way of rippling out, right? And then we have those taxpayers who of course are energizing our economy. And then we have the revenue that comes into our communities that can put our firefighters and our police officers and our teachers into a salary that they have earned and they deserve for doing the important work that they do.

But instead of doing that, instead of making the choice that those at the top should pay a fair share, they want to take more out of those firefighters and teachers and police officers and nurses.

Right now as we speak, we're a week away from a referendum in the State of Ohio. If that issue, Issue 2, is voted down, it will be a really big moment because what that would do is it would repeal a bill that was passed by the State legislature there. And that bill is aimed at attacking our firefighters, our police officers, our teachers, and our nurses by reducing their collective bargaining rights, their ability to even have a voice at the table, to be part of the solution, which they always are because they know what's going on in America.

They didn't go into those jobs because they thought that they would make tons of money. They went into those jobs because they had a commitment to service, to teach our kids, to run into our homes when they're burning to try and save us, to go out on our streets and make them safe. And yet they're the ones that some are looking at to get money back?

It wasn't our teachers or our firefighters or our police officers, it wasn't the seniors on Social Security or Medicare, it wasn't the students and their Pell Grants that drove our economy off the cliff. It was Wall Street that drove our economy off the cliff. And it's time that they pay a fair share so middle class America can start to breathe a little easier again knowing that they'll have opportunities in this country.


Ms. SUTTON. Representative Garamendi, I couldn't agree more with the idea that this is the voice of the people, that this is a referendum. They said to the Republican Governor and the legislature there, You've gone too far. Our firefighters and our police officers and our teachers, they're not our enemies. They're our heroes; they're the people who we look up to, who do good work on behalf of all of us, not just those who are the privileged few. And this is where we make our stand: on this referendum.

It's so important that the American people look at what's going on, frankly, in Ohio, and that we have a strong voice. Just to make sure that we have a correct record, a ``no'' vote on that issue is going to repeal that bad bill. We'll see what the people in Ohio do, but I am confident that we're speaking up together for one another and for police and firefighters and teachers.


Ms. SUTTON. The gentleman makes such an important point.

Here we are. We're coming up on Veterans Day. It is not enough to just go out to ceremonies on Veterans Day and express our appreciation, although that should happen. We should be expressing our appreciation to veterans, not just through those ceremonies but through our policies. We have all of these veterans out there who are returning from the current wars, and we have other veterans out there looking for opportunities. The American Jobs Act will help us to create those opportunities that they so richly deserve.

Let's be clear: the people who are fighting our wars, they are part of the 99 percent. Very few are part of the 1 percent. So it's really, really important that we do focus on giving them the opportunities, the American Dream, the fact that if you work hard and if you try hard and if you play by the rules that you'll be able to make it in America. That is part of what they were fighting for.

So I could not agree more. We've got to focus on getting help to our veterans.


Ms. SUTTON. It is my honor and my privilege to stand up for the people of Ohio and for the veterans you were just speaking of.

I just have to say, those veterans, those men and women who were on the battlefield, they weren't just fighting for Wall Street; they were fighting for the United States of America and all that it stands for. They weren't just fighting for the top 1 percent; they were fighting for all of us. Now they're coming back, and we have an obligation. We have a promise that we have made to them, part of which would be fulfilled if we could get the American Jobs Act passed. So it is incumbent upon us to beat back.

We hear a lot of rhetorical terms. In the last election we heard over and over again, Oh, we could create jobs if we could get government off the backs of the job creators.

Well, look, the refrain, people don't want government on their back, I agree they don't want government on their back. But you know what? They do want government on their side. And that is not what they have been getting and that is why we have to be here, to stand up for the middle class, to stand up for those veterans, for those seniors, for those college students, for those workers, for those firefighters and those police officers, those teachers and those nurses who have suffered far less growth as, we know, Wall Street continues to flourish with record CEO bonuses and all of those profits. We just want people to pay a fair share, and we want the American people to have a fair shake.

Thank you for your leadership. You have been tremendous.


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