Search Form
First, enter a politician or zip code
Now, choose a category

Public Statements

Make It In America: Manufacturing Matters

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. GARAMENDI. Mr. Speaker, it's good to be back here for another week of work. We certainly have work to do. Out across this Nation there are a lot of people that are still unemployed, and it's time for Congress to take this extremely important task and to get it done.

We've been talking here on the floor for a long time about how we can create jobs in America. The Make It in America agenda that my Democratic colleagues and I have put forth over the last 2 1/2 years is an extensive number of bills designed to bring jobs back to the United States. And we need them.

An article that appeared in the newspapers this last day or so talked about this. This is Paul Krugman talking about the long-term unemployment that we now have here in the United States. He cites that for the last 5 years we've been in a crisis. Unemployment remains elevated, with almost 12 million Americans out of work. But the real striking and huge number is in another category, and that's the long-term unemployment: 4.6 million Americans have been unemployed for more than 6 months, and more than 3 million have been jobless for more than a year. The programs that my Democratic colleagues and I have offered over the last 2 1/2 years would have gone directly to that problem.

He argues that when you have this long-term unemployment, you create a problem that these men and women are not likely to ever get back into the workforce, citing several statistics that are found around the Nation. But we can do something about that, and the Make It in America agenda is exactly what we ought to be working on.

Before I go into the specifics of that agenda, I'd like to cover one other issue. This is seen in a report from the International Monetary Fund that they just came out with in the last couple of days warning the United States to be very careful about continued reductions in our budget. They argue that the austerity program that the United States has actually been on for the last 2 years--now, remember, immediately after President Obama became President the United States took on a stimulus program, an enormous stimulus program of a little over $700 billion. That actually created the start of the rebirth of the American economy, but it only lasted for a year, a year and a half.

Then we undertook, at the behest of my Republican colleagues, an austerity program, one that involved seriously reducing the Federal budget. Over the decades, beginning in 2011, we will see a nearly $2 trillion reduction in Federal expenditures in the 10-year period. That is what austerity is all about.

Today, if you were trying to get on an airplane somewhere in the United States, you were beginning to see yet one more effect of austerity, and that is the air traffic controllers going on furlough, so that 1 day out of 10 air traffic controllers will not be working, meaning that there will be a shortage. Some say, well, they should have moved the money around and they could have done it some other way, but that's not the way the austerity program is in the United States, and that's not the way the sequestration law is written.

Sequestration is across-the-board cuts, expenditure item by expenditure item, with no--or very little--authority to shift money from one lower priority to a higher priority. Therefore, today, the air traffic controllers, some were not working. There was a general slowdown of air traffic across the United States resulting in some of my colleagues not getting to work today to vote on the three bills that we had up here on the floor just a few moments ago.

In any case, the IMF warns: U.S. austerity will slow growth. This was a warning that was issued to the United States. It was also issued earlier to the United Kingdom, who have been on a very serious austerity budget for the last 3 years. The result is that the United Kingdom has actually seen a shrinking in their economy, as has most of Europe. Austerity did not work in Europe as an effort to deal with the downturn of the economy and the Great Recession, and it certainly is not working here.

We need to create jobs in the United States. A rational economic strategy would say that when you have a general decline in the economy caused by a lack of consumer spending, then it is time for the government to step in and to provide support for the economy. We can do that in a way that actually is an investment strategy. This is where I would like to take this conversation.

Instead of talking about austerity and cut, cut, cut at the Federal level to deal with the deficit--an issue that, indeed, we must deal with, but that's a long-term issue that we have to get about--but we have a short-term crisis right now with employment and the lack of demand here in the United States.

So, what do we do about it? Well, first of all, we end sequestration; give a rational way for the government agencies to address the $85 billion of cuts that are taking place in the next 6 months--better yet, to put that off into the future. Let those cuts occur in the years 4, 5, 6, 7, out in the future rather than right now, when what we ought to be doing is increasing the government expenditure on key investments, like keeping the airplanes in the sky, like keeping the men and women who are at my Air Force base in Travis, continuing to provide the support that the Air Force needs in moving men and equipment out of Afghanistan, and shifting those budget cuts off to the future. I hope that happens. I have asked my colleagues, and certainly the President has asked for this to happen. We'll see if my colleagues here are ready to do that.

So, what do we do in the meantime? It's about investments, those kind of Federal Government expenditures that actually will create immediate jobs as well as long-term economic growth. There are several, and I'll go through them very, very quickly.

First, education. The most important investment that any economy will make, any society will make is the investment in education. And it's not just K-12; it's the higher education system, a doctorate education, as well as the retraining of those long-term unemployed who need to be prepared for the jobs of today and tomorrow, not the jobs of yesterday. So that's the education.

The second piece of it is research. It's the foundation of future economic growth. You need to have a robust research program if you intend for your economy to stay ahead. Fortunately, America has had such an agenda for a long time. However, the sequestration cuts--for example, $45 million out of research at the University of California-Davis in just the next 6 months--that means layoffs, layoffs of technicians and others who are involved in those research programs. And it means that those research efforts will not come to fruition in the near future. They will be delayed, and the benefit of them will not be seen for some time.

Some of this is real jobs right away. For example, some of that research has to do with bioherbicides and biopesticides. These are naturally occurring organisms that occur somewhere in the environment. They are discovered, they are brought back to the laboratory and grown and become a bioherbicide or a biopesticide. Research in that area is clearly going to be delayed as a result of sequestration. So let's delay the sequestration, put it off in the future years so that we can grow the economy today.

The third element of economic growth is in the area of infrastructure. You have to have infrastructure. This is about moving Americans across our landscape. This is about our ports, our highways, our airports, and other critical elements in the transportation infrastructure.

We know that we are woefully behind on meeting the infrastructure needs. Probably eight out of 10 bridges in the United States are deficient. We know that our highways are filled with potholes and don't measure up to the standards that we would want, simply for the protection of our automobiles' suspension systems. We know that there is far more to infrastructure than just highways and ports and airports.

For example, the Mississippi River is flooding. So what is the status of levees in the United States? Well, the status of levees in the United States is not good. In my district, I have more than 1,200 miles of levees, and many of them are insufficient to protect the people who live on the land side of the levees, the farms and the cities.

One of the most dangerous cities in the United States is Sacramento, California. It ranks number two after New Orleans. We need to have that levee repaired, yet the Army Corps of Engineers is taking a $250 million cut in its levee budget and in the projects that it does in deepening the ports and maintaining the ports. It makes no sense that at a time when we know there is severe flooding, even to this day along the Mississippi, that we would take $250 million out of the Army Corps of Engineers budget. But that's precisely what is happening with sequestration.

Infrastructure goes beyond that. I'm going to come back to infrastructure in a few moments, but I see I'm joined by one of my colleagues.

I'll just rapidly finish with the other two elements in a program for building the American economy.

The final two elements are manufacturing. You have to make things. I'll come back and talk about that in a few moments. And the final element is you must change. The economy is changing, people have to change with the economy, our education system, our infrastructure. All of these require that we are willing to change.

Now, my colleague from the great State of Ohio, please, share with us your thoughts on sequestration, jobs and what we can do here in the United States to put people back to work.

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. GARAMENDI. Mr. Ryan, your lesson on American history is right on. We often hear some of our colleagues talk about the Founding Fathers--the Founding Fathers wouldn't do it this way, they wouldn't do it that way, or they would.

It's very interesting that George Washington on becoming President, the first President, went to Alexander Hamilton, his Treasury Secretary, and asked Mr. Hamilton to develop a strategy to grow the American economy. Alexander Hamilton came back with a report 3 or 4 months later, laid out about a dozen different elements, and in that report that Alexander Hamilton brought to President Washington was the genius of what you just described. He said, the Federal Government should provide for infrastructure investment. He didn't call it infrastructure. The Federal Government should build canals, ports, and roads. He also said, the Federal Government should buy American-made products to encourage manufacturing in America. So this is not new.

Your recitation of American history down through the line actually began with our very first President, laying out the partnership, the public-private partnership, the Federal Government playing a key role in those investments that create economic growth.

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. GARAMENDI. Let me give you an example.

The American Public Works Association--these are people with the sanitation systems, the water systems and the like--estimate that 25 percent of all of the fresh-treated water in our municipal water systems is lost to leakage, and they estimate, together with the EPA, that we need to spend over $300 billion immediately to deal with sanitation systems in the United States that are inadequate and $335 billion in drinking water so that we have clean, available drinking water.

One more point here: for every billion dollars we spend, you put 28,000 people to work immediately. Those are the engineers, the draftsmen, the architects, the men and women who are operating the equipment, who are back-filling the ditches, laying the pipe. And if we use another strategy that we've developed on the Democratic side called Make It in America--if you use our taxpayer money to buy American-made equipment--then in your district, the steel mills begin once again to produce American-made steel, and all of the pipe and other equipment that's needed can be produced in America, using our money.

I love your example of the 1 percent. There have been Democratic proposals--and in fact, the President talked about it here in his state of the Union--about creating an infrastructure bank. If you take that 10-year or 15-year money that the government can borrow at a percent to, maybe, a percent and a half and put it in an infrastructure bank and then loan it to those cities and municipalities and counties and others that need to build these systems--well, let's say we borrowed a percent and a half and that you loaned it out at 1.6 percent--that's enough to pay that back. We circulate that money in our economy, we use that money to buy American-made products, and we get this economy moving.

It's there for us. We can do this if only we'd put our minds to it. Set aside for a moment the deficit issue. I said for a moment, not forever. We know we have to deal with the deficit, but you cannot solve that deficit unless you have Americans working, and we can put Americans back to work.

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. GARAMENDI. You reminded me of my college football career at the University of California, Berkeley, where I was an offensive guard and a defensive tackle, blocking and tackling.

Mr. RYAN of Ohio. So this resonates with you, yes.

Mr. GARAMENDI. Oh, it resonated with me just fine--along with a lot of bumps and bruises and cuts and the like.

But this is the public-private partnership. This is the role of our government to make these critical investments in education, in research. In fact, one of the Make It in America agenda items is the extension of the research tax credit--a permanent or at least a long extension of it.

Representative Carney has introduced House Resolution 905, which would extend that. We have been extending it 1 year at a time, but that doesn't give the businesses the opportunity to plan on a long extension or on a long period of time for research. For example, I was at Genentech in my district. They have a major biopharmaceutical program there--the biggest biopharmaceutical plant in the world. They conduct a lot of research, but the start-stop of the research and the development tax credit makes it difficult for them to plan long into the future. So this piece of legislation, part of the Make It in America agenda, does that extension and gives this certainty to businesses.

We also have the infrastructure bank being reintroduced by our colleagues here on the Democratic side. This is one of about two-dozen bills that the Democrats have introduced for the purposes of moving the economy by bringing the manufacturing back home. We also have the Patriot Corporations of America Act, by Representative Schakowsky from Chicago, that rewards companies when they bring the jobs back home. Previously and even today, American corporations can take a tax break for shipping jobs offshore. They don't get a tax break when they bring those jobs back home. We want to reverse that.

There is a series of bills. I call the attention of Congress to these bills, the Make It in America agenda, so that we can once again Make It in America, not only make things in America, but Americans can make it--infrastructure, a critical element of this.

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. GARAMENDI. Alexander Hamilton and George Washington had it correct: the American Government working with the private sector can make the difference.

When we talk about infrastructure, we have an opportunity this year, Congress and the President, to make a huge impact on American jobs. We are going to rewrite, in this session, the Surface Transportation Act for America.

Mr. Rahall and I have authored a bill that we hope becomes part of that Surface Transportation Act, that simply says: as we spend the taxpayers' money--this is money that is collected from the gasoline and the diesel excise tax--that that money be spent on American-made steel, concrete, bridges, buses, trains, whatever.

It can work.

One quick example. In the stimulus bill, there was an opportunity for Amtrak to buy new locomotives, about half a billion dollars to be spent on these new locomotives. In that section of the law, one sentence was added that said, These must be 100 percent American-made. Nobody was making locomotives in America before that, but Siemens, a German corporation, one of the biggest manufacturers in the world, said, Oh, half a billion dollars? We can make locomotives. In America? Sure.

In Sacramento, California, they opened a manufacturing plant. There are probably somewhere between 200 and 300 people working there today manufacturing 100 percent American-made locomotives. And on May 13, 3 years after they began this process, the first 100 percent American-made locomotive in probably more than a century rolls onto the tracks of America.

We can do this.

Mr. Rahall's bill, H.R. 949, will provide that opportunity, American-made, using American taxpayer money. I also have another bill that does the same for solar and wind projects.

We can do these things; we just need to put our mind to it and get past this business of austerity. We cannot solve this problem of American jobs with an austerity budget. We've seen it fail in Europe, and we see it failing here in the United States as the long-term unemployment continues to harm 4.5 million Americans that have been out of work for more than 6 months and another 3 million that have been out of work for more than a year. We need an investment strategy, a Make It in America strategy, an investment strategy in those things that create long-term economic growth.

Mr. Ryan, I thank you very much for joining us this evening. If you'd like to wrap, and then I'll wrap, and then we'll call it a night.

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. GARAMENDI. Mr. Ryan, I thank you so very much for joining us this evening.

We're still the strongest, best country in the world. There's no other place like America. And if we begin acting like we can and are a strong, robust, building, growing, dynamic country instead of being weak and pulling ourselves back and saying, Oh, we can't do it; we can't do it--no, we can do it. We can build. We can invest.

Every time we invest a dollar in infrastructure, we put Americans back to work and we give them an opportunity to take care of their family, to stay in their home, to provide for their children's education. When we do that, we create the foundation for future economic growth, whether it's education or research or building the infrastructure and making it in America. As we do these things, this agenda is the American agenda, the one that created this country.

As you so well said when you opened here: It's the American history. It's there before us. We can do it. We must do it. We owe it to the American people.

Mr. Ryan, thank you.

Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT


Source:
Skip to top
Back to top