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Mr. McGOVERN. Mr. Speaker, let me begin by urging a ``no'' vote on this rule, which is not open, and a ``no'' vote on the underlying bill. The bill before us does nothing to improve the quality of life for any American. It doesn't create a single job. Not one job is created by this bill we're talking about today. This bill is going nowhere in the United States Senate. I don't believe this is a serious effort and, in short, we're wasting our time.
Mr. Speaker, I cannot stress this enough. Congress must keep our focus on the most important priority facing the American people, and that is jobs--jobs, jobs, jobs. Democrats may sound like a broken record, but that's because we know that the core issue of our time is the economy and jobs. We need to do more to make sure that America's businesses get back on track and that the American people are in a position to succeed when these businesses start to hire.
Now, we had some good news last week. The unemployment rate decreased for the fifth month in a row, falling to 8.3 percent.
At the same time, we've had 5 straight months of job creation, and we're in the 23rd consecutive month of private sector growth.
The economy looks like it's rebounding; and if this trend holds, that's a good thing. But while private sector employers added 257,000 jobs in January, there was a loss of 14,000 government jobs, including 11,000 local government jobs. Now, the reason for that, Mr. Speaker, quite frankly, is because the Federal Government is cutting away and State governments are cutting away and these so-called ``government jobs'' are being eliminated--the jobs that my friends on the other side of the aisle like to demonize. But what are these local government jobs? Mr. Speaker, these are cops, firefighters, teachers, librarians, and trash collectors. They're not faceless bureaucrats. They are people who make our lives safer, better, and cleaner every day. And they're our neighbors and our friends and our family members.
So despite the relatively good news about the improving economy, we are clearly not where we need to be. Payroll employment is still 5.6 million jobs short of where it was at the beginning of the Great Recession of December of 2007. There are four jobless workers for every job opening and long-term unemployment is still at historic high levels.
It is clear that this rebound, as slow and painstaking as it is, is taking place in spite of House Republicans and in spite of their policies, not because of them. In fact, I believe actions taken and policies voted on by this House have slowed down this economic recovery, have slowed down this economy, and have prevented a faster and more robust recovery.
For example, congressional Republicans should be doing all they can to prevent a tax increase on middle class Americans. Congressional Republicans should be doing all they can to extend unemployment insurance for people who are unemployed through no fault of their own. Yet, Mr. Speaker, they have continued to drag their feet on this legislation and, in fact, continue to bicker among themselves about the need to extend these programs. This should be a no-brainer. This should be something that both sides should come together and be able to improve immediately. Yet it has become this theater, this drama that plays out; and nobody quite knows how it's going to end.
Mr. Speaker, we're one week into February, more than 1 month into the new year, more than 13 months into this new Republican-controlled Congress; and we have yet to see one meaningful jobs bill. No wonder Congress' approval rating is at historic lows. And instead of bringing legislation to the floor that would help the economy--like a clean extension of the payroll tax and unemployment insurance--the GOP would rather bring up misguided budget bills that simply attempt to rig the budget rules so they can score cheap political points.
House Republicans are simply trying to change the rules of the game to benefit their own point of view. This bill today, the so-called Budget and Accounting Transparency Act, is another sham bill in the Republican leadership's quest to change the rules of budgeting. This may seem like inside baseball to some, but it really is something quite extraordinary.
Simply, the Republicans, with this bill, are attempting to artificially inflate the cost of Federal credit programs. They do so by changing the way government credit programs are calculated. The Federal budget is supposed to count the amount of money that is spent and the revenue received. If there is more money coming in than going out, it's a surplus. The opposite is a deficit. What the Republican leadership is trying to do with this bill is to recalculate the way these credit programs are scored, or counted, in the budget process, automatically making them more expensive. They do so by treating government credit programs in a similar way to private credit programs, even though they are treated differently by the markets.
Now, on top of changing the way these credit programs are scored, it's important to point out that this bill doesn't apply to all Federal programs. In other words, we would have one set of scoring rules for one set of Federal programs and another one just for the Federal credit programs. That doesn't make any sense to me.
If some of these recent budget bills are any indication, the House Republican leadership cares more about rigging the budget process just to dismantle the Federal safety net instead of actually working to reduce the deficit and at the same time spur job creation.
Mr. Speaker, we should be talking about jobs. We should be acting on the President's jobs plan. Our committee work should be focused on how do we get this economy running again. What should be on the floor today is not a bill that's going nowhere, but a bill that will help put people back to work. You know, if we put more people back to work and this economy begins to recover more, then we can grow out of this deficit.
I would just, again, urge the Republican leadership to stop bringing stuff to the floor that really, I believe, is a waste of our time. Bring things to the floor that are meaningful, that will make a difference in the lives of the American people, that will improve the quality of lives for people in this country.
I urge my colleagues to vote ``no'' on this rule and on the underlying bill and to put our focus back where it belongs, creating a stronger economy for the American people.
I reserve the balance of my time.
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