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Public Statements

The United States Economy and Jobs

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Ms. KAPTUR. Well, you know, there's the St. Lawrence Seaway that kind of connects it all as it flows into the Atlantic Ocean.

But I wanted say, you know, many of us, all of us have come through very difficult campaigns in this political year of 2012. But what is wonderful about serving with the three of you is you keep the focus on jobs in this country, and the importance of making goods in America, and where wealth is really created, how we do that as a country, and what it takes to build a great country.

I look at the St. Lawrence Seaway, and I think about Dwight Eisenhower, a great general, led our forces in Europe, and came home and decided that America needed to create the St. Lawrence Seaway so that we would unlock the potential of the Upper Great Lakes and the Lower Great Lakes.

And you say to yourself, today, with some of the limited thinking that some exhibit--of course, no one in this Chamber would ever be accused of that, right?--but could we do the St. Lawrence Seaway again?

I've had the great privilege of traveling out West--I think I've probably been in every State and almost every congressional district at one point in my career--and to look at the Hoover Dam. And as I admired the dam, I thought to myself, America has it in her to land a man on the moon and to create NASA, but here at home, our public works, do we have the vision?

Do we have a vision big enough today, in the 21st century, to match what those who came before us gave to us that put this continent together?

And as I travel, I see water systems in disrepair. In fact, in my hometown of Toledo, they're trying to find

$45 million to put a roof on the water treatment plant, which really needs $500 million to fix.

I go to the new parts of the Ninth District, in the city of Cleveland, and I look at the need for infrastructure repair and, in the same city, so many unemployed people who could be put to work fixing the heart and soul of Cleveland.

Or Lorain, Ohio, the number of brownfields that are there where we're waiting to clear property so that we can clean it up, move the sewage treatment plant, move other assets that are there and create a much greater port on Lake Erie. And I say, do we have it in us?

I know I have it in me to want to do this. But I look back at what our heritage really is, the interstate highway system itself, when, again, during the 1950s, if we think about what was done, there was a time when this country, if you moved from--well, you couldn't move from Ohio to California on roads that intersected. People think that just happened, but it didn't. It took real vision to do that.

All the statistics show that when we invest in infrastructure, that is the most job-rich program that this country could ever promote. And to create efficiencies and intermodal connections--Congressman Tonko talked about fiber optics and about telecommunications and all of the new ways of connecting our country.

I've had the privilege in my career of representing many rural areas that are short, not just on doctors, but on telecommunications capabilities. It isn't just in the heart of Ukraine where people can't communicate; it's in rural America as well.

So I just came down here, I heard you speaking, and I thought, I identify with your cause. Thank you for talking about jobs inside the Congress of the United States. Thank you, Congressman Garamendi, Congressman Higgins, Congressman Tonko.

Now you all come from what is regarded as the coast, right? But I'm from a coast too, the north coast along Lake Erie, and it's actually quite a long coast when you take a look at it, you unwind it in all the various lakes. So we're coastal America too, and I identify with your cause.

And believe me, the people that sent me here identify with the cause of jobs and economic growth and infrastructure investment in our country to push us far beyond where perhaps Roosevelt and Eisenhower and Kennedy dreamed.

Thank you so very much for this Special Order tonight.

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Ms. KAPTUR. I thank you, Congressman Garamendi. I am really listening carefully to what Congressman Tonko and Congressman Higgins have been saying this evening and thinking about what's going on in Ohio, the northern band of Ohio, from Toledo through Cleveland, and the importance of manufacturing and thinking about how hard our businesses and our workers have to compete in a very unlevel global playing field. And I've seen this directly in the automotive industry, where to this day one of the reasons that our automotive industry had difficulty and why it required the Nation to not let it fail and to pay back what was borrowed was because we are in competition with state-managed economies.

For example, I'm a member of the China Commission. And several economists testified before our committee a few years ago that what you really have in operation is market Leninism. I said, Describe to me what you're seeing. Because I've had companies in my district that have business deals in China that have lost billions of dollars. They have paid for goods that have never been received. Now, in a transparent legal system like our own, that could never happen. You have a court system. You have a way of getting your money back. But when you're dealing with a state-managed economy under a market Leninist approach, you have powerful political people pulling the strings that isn't truly a free market.

And so whether you have a closed market in Japan that's still largely closed to automotive products or you have a state-managed economy as in China, then you ask our automotive producers or any company to compete in that kind of environment, you end up harming our domestic production. And one of the reasons we are so elated that our automotive industry is recovering, you see it all over our region, the power of industry to lift people into the middle class and beyond. You can see it everywhere: in suppliers, in restaurants, in theaters, and places where people are going. Even grocery stores, frankly, where people are able to buy more because of the recovery of this powerful, powerful industry.

And I just want to end with one image, which is really hard to capture in words, but one of our companies in Cleveland has the only 50,000-ton press in the United States of America--Alcoa. It is seven stories in magnitude. I feel very privileged as a Representative to have been invited into the company to see this literally mammoth, magnificent machine be able to take parts and form them for industry as well as our defense systems. And it's seven stories high. Three layers on three stories at the bottom just dealing with the hydraulics.

The engineering and the brain power it takes to manufacture high-end goods is incredible. We are so proud of that company and other companies that are able to make it in America, despite all of the unfair global playing fields on which they are asked to play. And we see the components going into the automotive industry, into our defense systems. And we thank the corporate leadership and the workers, those who work very, very hard jobs that help us build the strongest country in the world.

So I just had to say that tonight because you get as excited as I do about actually making things and seeing this genius that takes ideas and engineers them into products that affect all of us and allows America to be the strongest Republic in the world. So I wanted to place that on the record. And thank you for giving me the time to do it.

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Ms. KAPTUR. Thank you.

I wanted to tie together Congressman Higgins' ideas on the Helmets to Hardhats, a program that I have supported, and commend him for his leadership on that, and also Congressman Tonko for the efforts that he's made in suggesting to us that we have to be visionary, and we have to promote new research, new research and development.

One area we have not focused on during these discussions tonight as much as I would hope is housing. Every recovery America has had since World War II has been led by housing, and housing has been in the dumpster for several years now. And one of the ways we do that is think about ways in which programs like Helmets to Hardhats could identify sectors in communities that were depleted by the Wall Street crisis. And think about how to modernize the manner in which energy is provided to them, for example. So we're not just rebuilding to the past but building the future.

In my home community, we have something called Advanced Energy Utility that the Port Authority has established where they can loan funds that are then paid back through the bond offerings they do. And right now it's in its early stages. But one could see where a neighborhood could be identified and new technologies in the building sector brought to bear to create the new neighborhoods of tomorrow.

One company--Owens Corning--in our region has established a new manufacturing plant near Milan, Ohio, building a seven-layer roofing and the most incredible equipment. I defy any Member of Congress to build what they have built there and to bring off these big roles and be able to apply this roofing that I think is going to lead the industry. They could build four new factories depending on sales in the northern environments of the United States and Canada. And I see this and I think, all we have to do is put the parts together to build the residential neighborhoods of a 21st century America.

So I am just proud to join my colleagues tonight. And thank you, Congressman Garamendi, for bringing us together, as you so often do, to keep the focus here in the Congress on jobs and economic growth, which is what the American people sent us here to do.

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