Mr. GRIFFIN of Arkansas. Mr. Speaker, I have joined some of my colleagues here tonight to talk about the most pressing issue in this country, which is job creation, private sector job creation and what we need to do to get our country back on the path to prosperity and job growth.
I had a jobs conference in the Second Congressional District, my district, down in Arkansas in Little Rock a couple of weeks ago. We held it at the Clinton Library. It really was an extension of the 25 or so town halls that I've had this year in that we talked a lot about jobs. And I thought that a jobs conference would be a good idea because who better to ask about job creation than job creators. So we had five panels, over 60 panelists, and I wanted to hear from the job creators in the Second Congressional District. I asked them two main questions: What are the obstacles that you face in creating jobs, and what opportunities do you see?
As I indicated earlier, this was really an extension of what I've been talking to constituents about for the 9 months I've been in office, and even before that. I expected I would hear answers to those questions consistent with what I have heard in town halls, in meetings in my office, and throughout the year, and I wasn't surprised.
What I heard from the over 60 panelists that gathered at the Clinton Library in Little Rock a couple of weeks ago, what I heard was uncertainty is the number one obstacle to job creation in this country--uncertainty. Now, I've heard that word used a lot since I've been here. I heard it a lot last year when I was traveling around my district before I ever came to Congress. And it was pretty clear, has been pretty clear to me, and still is, that uncertainty is the biggest problem we face.
The job creators that gathered in Little Rock at the jobs conference were from the manufacturing industry, energy industry, health care, retail, financial services, aerospace, infrastructure, construction, real estate, you name it, agriculture. We had folks from all across the spectrum, and they all indicated that uncertainty is the biggest obstacle to job creation.
What kind of uncertainty were they talking about? Well, the number one type of uncertainty cited by job creators was regulatory uncertainty. They indicated at the conference, this jobs conference, that, number one, in many instances they know new regulations are coming, but they have no idea what they're going to be. So they have no idea whether they're going to be able to comply with those by spending a little extra money, no extra money, or a whole lot.
They're also concerned about regulations that are floated. They're floated out by the agencies as a potential regulation that may or may not be implemented. And those sorts of regulations give these job creators great pause because they don't know whether they're going to have to comply with them. And it's not just one agency and it's not just one industry.
I will say that the EPA's name came up more than any other. The job creators made it very clear that there are a number of regulations coming out of the Federal agencies that they are concerned about, and the EPA has issued a number of regulations and some that are yet to be enacted that these job creators were very concerned about.
I heard from the panelists the common theme that they're not against regulations. We've always had
regulations, at least since I've been around, and we're going to continue to have regulations. And we need reasonable regulations to keep our water and air clean. I have a 4-year-old and a 19-month-old, and I want them to have a clean and safe environment. But we're not talking about just regulations, reasonable regulations; we're talking about excessive, overly burdensome regulations that in some cases require such drastic steps to comply that they just run people out of business. We've dealt with a lot of those here in the House trying to reverse some of the stuff coming out of the administration.
I heard from our energy industry, the energy corporations and the electric cooperatives--some of the panelists represented those companies--and they indicated if some of the EPA rules are implemented as they have been proposed, they could result in the shutting down of several power plants in Arkansas, with a potential impact of raising energy costs 25 percent. Now, these same panelists said, Look, we're not necessarily against this sort of regulation, the sort of regulation they're referring to, but the time frame for compliance is so short that there's no way, it's almost humanly impossible for them to comply with some of the EPA's mandates. So we heard a lot about the EPA, but not just the EPA. HHS, the Department of Labor, many other agencies here in Washington put out regulations often with no or little regard to the impact those regulations are going to have on the folks back in my district and around the country.
So regulatory uncertainty was specifically identified as an obstacle to job creation in this country. In addition to regulatory uncertainty, there's uncertainty over the health care law. Is the health care law even going to be implemented or not? Certainly I voted to repeal the health care law that passed in the last Congress. I think we need health care reform, but not the health care reform we got. Now the courts are looking at the health care law and there's a good chance in some folks' opinion and my opinion that the Supreme Court might strike the individual mandate portion of the President's health care law, the health care law that we have now. So there's a lot of uncertainty surrounding that.
There's also uncertainty over our fiscal situation. The President had a perfect opportunity to lead after his bipartisan debt commission came out with some recommendations. I don't agree with all of them, but it was a good place to start.
But instead, right after they came out with their recommendations late last year, early this year the President came out with his budget--no reform of Medicare to save it, no reform of Social Security to save it, no reform of Medicaid, just keep on spending. So we missed an opportunity there.
But the debt is a part of that uncertainty. The debt impacts our currency valuation, and it impacts our markets. You don't have to look far. Just look at what's going on in Europe. It's sort of like you're looking in a crystal ball, and what's going on in Europe is potentially--not identical--but potentially, in some regards, our future. That's where we're headed--more uncertainty.
So, it was very clear, after listening to all of these job creators, that the problem is not that the Federal Government hasn't spent enough money. We've spent $1 trillion on the last stimulus at a cost of about $300,000 per job. Discretionary spending has gone up 84 percent under this administration. I don't think, in fact, I know, that spending is not the problem. It's the uncertainty that the job creators addressed. So what we're going to talk about here tonight is what we've been doing for the last 9 months to address the uncertainty on regulations with regard to the debt and our spending, and with regard to our Tax Code so that we can remain competitive.
What have we been doing here in this body, in the majority in the House, to address the uncertainty that I think, beyond dispute, is the biggest obstacle to job creation in this country? And I'm citing the job creators of my district. We've been doing a whole lot over the last 10 months. We passed a lot of legislation. I think we've had about 800 votes. Unfortunately, a lot of those good ideas are stacking up like cordwood over in the U.S. Senate. We pass it, send it down to them, and they stack it up. That's the way it's worked for the last 10 months or so.
I am happy to be joined by my colleagues here. I thought we'd talk a little bit about the different things that we passed that the American people would have heard a lot more about if they had been acted upon and become law. But most folks don't hear a lot about them because they go down to the other end of the building and they just sit there like that little bill sitting on Capitol Hill that some of us grew up with as a cartoon. It's just a bill, it's not a law.
I am happy to have my friends join me here tonight on the floor to talk about jobs and what we've been doing in the House over the last 10 months.
I yield to the gentleman from New York.
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Mr. GRIFFIN of Arkansas. If I can mention one thing, on the issue of the debt, we don't have to solve it overnight. We didn't get in this mess overnight, and we certainly aren't going to solve it overnight. But I sort of analogize it to going on a trip. If you're going to travel from Arkansas to Washington, D.C., you don't have to get there instantly, but you need to have a roadmap. You need to know where you're going, and everybody in the car needs to have confidence that the person driving is taking you in the right direction. If you're driving from Little Rock to Washington and you start seeing signs that say ``L.A. 100 miles ahead,'' you're going to wake up everybody and figure out what happened.
So we don't need to deal with this debt overnight, but we need a credible plan that brings us back to balance, that brings us to a sustainable path and that gives people confidence--not confidence that it's going to be fixed immediately, but confidence that the path we're on will eventually get us back to where we need to be.
I yield to my friend.
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Mr. GRIFFIN of Arkansas. I thank the gentleman from New York for his thoughts. Before I yield to my friend from Wisconsin, I'd like to just revisit some of what you said.
We've identified the problem as uncertainty. I think we're all confident of that based on talking to our constituents and job creators. And we, over the last 9 months, have passed a number of bills that support the different aspects of our plan to get this country moving again and creating jobs.
Number one, fundamental tax reform. We need it on the individual side; we need it on the corporate side.
Regulatory reform. We have passed countless bills that reform the regulatory process or address specific regulations.
And dealing with the debt. We've been trying to
raise the issue of spending and overspending--and have raised it successfully numerous times over the last 9, 10 months. We haven't been able to do as much as we'd like; we are just one body here in the House. But dealing with the spending and forcing the Federal Government to live within its means has been and continues to be a priority.
And also, what the gentleman from New York mentioned, is the importance of energy exploration and energy development to our national security, because we want to depend on our own energy sources or at least on our friends in Canada; but it's also very important in terms of job creation. The energy development that we could have in this country could create up to, some say, at a minimum, 1 million jobs.
I was watching a new show on the networks last night, on NBC, and they had a whole segment on what's going on in North Dakota with some of the shale drilling and how there are just tens and hundreds of jobs waiting to be filled in this country, in that part of our country, because of energy exploration.
So tax reform, regulatory reform, dealing with the debt so that we can invest in infrastructure, which is so important to economic development and energy development, those are critical.
And if you want to talk about a jobs plan or what have you, or jobs bills--it's not jobs bill; it's jobs bills. We've been passing jobs bills since January. In fact, as I indicated before, they're piling up like cord wood in the Senate.
I yield to my friend from Wisconsin.
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Mr. GRIFFIN of Arkansas. I thank the gentleman.
Before I yield to my friend from Colorado, I just want to follow up on a few issues. We call the jobs-related bills that we've passed here that will help the private sector grow the forgotten 15 because these are the bills that made their way down to the Senate and just sat there. The only problem with that is it's not 15 anymore; it's 16 or 17 or 18. And they're not one bill. It's more complex than that. They're plural.
There are a number of jobs bills, a few of them: the Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act, H.R. 872; the Energy Tax Prevention Act, H.R. 910; Restarting American Offshore Leasing Now Act, H.R. 1230; Putting the Gulf of Mexico Back to Work Act, H.R. 1229. These are all related to job creation, getting the private sector creating jobs again, and the list goes on and on.
Now, one of those is the North American-Made Energy Security Act, H.R. 1938. Now, this bill is also just sitting in the Senate. It passed the House July 26 of this year.
Now, we're up here talking about bills and legislation and what have you, but speaking for me, and I think I can speak for my colleagues here, we're talking about bills and legislation and laws, but ultimately we're talking about policies that will allow folks who are hurting back in our districts who have been out of work--we're talking about how bills that have passed into law would help job creation, which will help those folks who are still looking.
I'll give you a specific example.
There's a company called Wells Fund in Little Rock. And they make massive pipe. And they're talking about expanding. Well, what are they waiting on, or what is one of the things that they're looking at that is a potential obstacle? They make the pipe for the Keystone pipeline. Why are they in Little Rock? Because they're right there at the port of Little Rock. So they can really haul a lot of steel in those barges, and they've got a huge high-tech, state-of-the-art facility. It's an Indian-based company, lots of jobs right there. They want to expand, they want to create more jobs. They're building up that pipe.
And we've got an administration that's not sure how they feel about the Keystone pipeline that's going to allow for more energy to come from our neighbors through the north instead of from around the world? They're not sure about the Keystone pipeline that will create energy-related jobs right here in the United States?
Where I come from, the Keystone pipeline's a no-brainer. That means you don't even have to think about it. And now I read actually a few minutes ago, I got a news clip that the President now has decided that he's going to make the ultimate decision on the Keystone pipeline. If I was making that decision, I'd take about 2 seconds. It's absolutely critical that we build this both for national security and for energy here at home in terms of jobs.
Now, on the issue of regulations, I want to touch on it real quickly before I pass to my good friend from Colorado.
At my jobs conference that we had a couple of weeks ago, senior vice president Ken Kimbro of Tyson Foods--we've all heard of Tyson. My kids and I, we love the chicken. We've all heard of Tyson. Ken Kimbro, senior vice president, says this about regulations in general: ``I understand the intended consequences of regulations, but it seems like we turn a blind eye to the unintended consequences of what that's going to mean to us in Arkansas, our industry, to the State of Arkansas, and to the jobs that support everything that we do. And it seems to be lost in an academic exercise without the consequence of what's going to happen. And we face it across the full spectrum of government agencies, and it's terribly frustrating because we all want to do the right thing.''
Now, on the regulatory front, he's identified the problem.
I had another panelist who owns ten International House of Pancake restaurants. I love them. I like to eat breakfast there. Here's what she said, ``As a business owner today, I am in a constant posture of defense.'' Is that what we want? We want job creators in a constant posture of defense?
So I just want to put in a plug. I have just introduced a bill called the Job Creation and Regulatory Freeze Act. It's somewhat similar to a bill introduced on the Senate side by Susan Collins of Maine, and it puts a moratorium on all major regulations coming out of this administration until January of 2013. And my colleague on the Senate side, hers is for a year. I didn't think a year was sufficient because at the end of that year the administration could just implement regulations that are waiting.
So I say let's take it through January to Inauguration Day of 2013 because this administration has not gotten the message on overregulation.
This bill would stop major regulations being implemented, new ones, until 2013.
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Mr. GRIFFIN of Arkansas. In fact, on the Keystone bill that I mentioned, H.R. 1938, that was passed on July 26, 2011, the North American-Made Energy Security Act, looks like there were 47 Democrats that joined with us on that bill. Many of our Democrats joined us in a bipartisan effort.
But again, stacking up like cordwood on the steps of the Senate.
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Mr. GRIFFIN of Arkansas. I thank the gentleman from Colorado. I just want to make a few points, and then I'll yield to the gentleman, my good friend from Wisconsin.
First of all, I want to make clear that the number of the bill that I have just introduced, the Job Creation and Regulatory Freeze Act, is H.R. 3194.
Earlier, we were talking about commonsense regulations, and I want to mention one regulation. I had a constituent fly to D.C. to discuss something with me. She lives outside my district, this businesswoman, but she has numerous stores in my district. She has 300 stores in four States. They're convenience stores. She came to me and met with me in my office right up here in the Longworth, and she had some other folks with her. They told me the problem that they have with horses coming into their convenience stores.
I said, Excuse me?
She said, Yes. We're being told by the Department of Justice, through the Americans with Disabilities Act, that we have to let horses/ponies come into our stores if someone wants to bring a horse or a pony into the store.
I asked, Why would anyone ever need to bring a horse or a pony into your convenience store?
They said, Well, apparently, it's not common.
I didn't think it was common, because I'm 43, and I've never heard of anyone taking a horse into a convenience store; but she told me, in the way some folks rely on seeing eye dogs, some other folks in the country rely on horses for balancing or for whatever other service that horse provides, maybe guiding them. I'm not sure of all the details. The validity of that aside, I took her at her word that people were in the practice of taking horses into stores.
She said, Look, I've got liability problems here potentially. People are going to bring horses in. They might kick somebody; they may be dirty; they may dirty up the store; they may knock things over.
I said, Okay. If someone relies on a horse, that's fine; but why do we have a Federal regulation on this?
I've never even heard of it. We have people being paid to draft rules that deal with horses going into stores. I almost couldn't believe it. So I did a little research with my staff. Sure enough, she wasn't kidding. She wasn't making this up. ADA, title III, regulation 28 CFR, part 36, section .36.302: ``Modifications in policies, practices, or procedures.'' There is a provision entitled, ``Miniature Horses'':
A public accommodation shall make reasonable modifications in policies, practices, or procedures to permit the use of a miniature horse by an individual with a disability if the miniature horse has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of the individual with a disability.
Now, if individuals have to rely on horses for balance or guidance or whatever, then that's absolutely fine. I just find it incredible that the Federal Government is telling a businessowner, who has never in her life even heard of a horse coming in a store, that she has to comply with this and has to make sure that there is room for a horse to get in--or a pony or a miniature horse. I just think that this is where common sense comes in. We obviously can't regulate for every contingency, but apparently we're trying to.
So I'm taking a closer look at this to try to get some more information, but I think it's one that at first impression tells me we need to apply a little more common sense with regard to regulations.
I yield to the gentleman from Wisconsin.
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