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Poisonous Partisanship

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Mr. CLEAVER. Mr. Speaker, one of the reasons I rarely come to the floor to make such comments is that it is so troublesome to me that we will have fact-free debates. One of the problems is that we are talking in a parallel universe. There are small businesses that will pay more taxes, but I think it is important to say to you that the top hedge fund managers last year earned $22 billion and then paid a 15 percent tax rate as small businesses. So I am troubled when we are not being accurate and factual with the American public.

Mr. Speaker, my concern today--and I believe it is the concern of many Americans--is the situation in which we find ourselves. The American people have elected a government wherein only cooperation can bring progress. We have a House of Representatives that is predominantly Republican, and we have a Democratically controlled Senate. It would not take a 3-year-old a great deal of time to figure out that the only way we can do the work of the American people is if we stop this ridiculous partisanship--this poisonous partisanship--that is damaging the country and creating a level of anger. There are State legislators in at least 13 States who have introduced legislation for secession from the Union based on the fact that they didn't particularly like the President who was elected. One of the reasons, I think, is that we are exporting hate. If it's not hate, it's certainly anger, and ``anger'' is just one letter short of ``danger.''

The American people gave us a mandate to do the simple things, and that is to lead. We understand that the challenge before Congress in the coming weeks is no simple task. I would be wrong if I said that what we need to do is simple. We have some major challenges:

The Postal Service is losing $25 million a week, and we are running around here acting as if the most important thing in the world is remaining faithful to our ideology. Ideology, tragically, has trumped logic in this place, and that cannot continue. Right now, we are facing hundreds of billions of dollars in expiring tax cuts. It might be important, Mr. Speaker, for all of us to keep in mind that, if we fail to deal with the sequestration issue, 90 percent of the people in this country will have their taxes raised.

But there is another problem.

We have three major credit rating agencies in this country--actually, for the world, essentially--Standard & Poor's, Moody's and then Fitch. We have been warned as a Congress and as a Nation that if we walk up to this precipice again as we did two Augusts ago that we will suffer another downgrading of our credit rating. The United States of America--the most technologically powerful and economically powerful Nation on the planet--will have a credit downgrading.

This should cause every American to be angry enough to put aside petty partisanship and understand that this body will not function and that our government will not function unless we work together. We've got to come to the conclusion that compromise does not equal capitulation.


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