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Fiscal Responsibility

Location: Washington, DC

FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY -- (House of Representatives - October 28, 2005)

The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under the Speaker's announced policy of January 4, 2005, the gentlewoman from Tennessee (Mrs. Blackburn) is recognized for 60 minutes as the designee of the majority leader.

Mrs. BLACKBURN. Mr. Speaker, I appreciate being recognized. I have got a couple of things I wanted to talk about this afternoon as we wind up what has been a very busy week here in Washington. We have had our plate full, and have worked aggressively on issues that are of importance to the American people, and certainly are of importance to my constituents in Tennessee. But over the past week and during this time as we have been plugging away working on the budget for this Nation, working on how we reform government, we have watched a group of Democrats from across the aisle come down here during the evenings, and every evening they talk about everything that they believe the Republican majority is doing that is wrong. They talk about everything that they think is wrong with America, they talk about everything they think is wrong with our employers, and they talk about everything they think is wrong with American families and with the values that we hold dear.

You know, I do not think they think we are doing a thing right. I do not think they think there is much right with America. And if you turn to C-SPAN any given evening, and you see a bunch of people down here complaining, that is them, because they are tuned up, and they are going to it every evening with the negativity and what is wrong, what is wrong.

The left in this Congress does not want to see spending cuts, and they certainly do not want to see tax relief. They are not interested in reducing the size of the Federal Government. They want to grow it. And when they talk about wanting to grow it and add more to it, guess what? They are talking about using American taxpayer money.

It is going to take the money out of your pocket to pay for their want list. And what I cannot help but notice day after day when listening to the left in this body criticize everybody and everything and complain about everything is the tremendous level of self-indignation.

It is the sort of self-righteous indignation that you typically see coming from some of the TV talk show pundits, but lately it seems to be a hallmark of the Democratic House talking points that they are outraged about spending. Their solution is to propose more and more spending, but they are going to tell you they are outraged with the spending. They are going to tell you they are outraged with the deficit. They are going to tell you they are outraged with the debt. But more and more spending, more and more spending, that is what they want.

They are outraged that government failed in the Katrina response. Yet they want to make that inefficient and ineffective bureaucracy bigger and more powerful. At the same time as they are making it bigger and more powerful, guess what, they want to make it more centralized.

They are outraged, absolutely outraged that we have high gas prices, yet they oppose domestic exploration for oil. They oppose refinery construction. They oppose refinery expansion. And this is not something new. This is something that they have been opposing for years. My goodness, some of them even worked with former President Clinton. They are outraged about gas prices, but you know what, I guess they are not outraged that former President Clinton vetoed drilling in ANWR. Now, you know you cannot have it both ways.

They are outraged that Social Security is going to run short of funding, but they do not want to reform it, and they do not want to address that; but they are going to be outraged about it. They are outraged that this war on terror is not over, yet they take every opportunity they can possibly take. They come down here and any time that they can find the time they want to talk about withdrawing from Iraq and appeasing the very world leaders who let the Middle East get away with terrorism for decades before we took a firm stance. But they are going to tell you they are outraged that this war is not over. They have known it is going to be a long war. We have all known that.

Mr. Speaker, I guess they think they have got the market cornered on outrage. Maybe they do. Maybe they do. I mean, it seems that there is nobody around that does outrage better than the Democrats. As my mother used to say when people would get upset, she would look at them and say, Just rave on, rave on. You can talk all day long. That talking is not going to accomplish one thing. Actions will accomplish things.

But, Mr. Speaker, in order to get from outrage to action it takes something to fill in that void and that is called ideas, and ideas is something they just do not have. Now, maybe the outrage makes for great TV ratings on reality shows; but you know what, this is not a TV show. What this is is real life. It is the U.S. House of Representatives. It is a governmental body that works to construct the laws that you and I and my family and your family, everyone lives under; that free enterprise functions under; that we work under each and every day.

But you know, we do not hear ideas coming from the other side when they come down here and claim that we are not doing anything right and that everything is wrong. They are not laying out an alternative agenda because they cannot agree on one. They want to make the government agencies we have got bigger. They want a bigger, more centralized government. They want more Federal control. They want more Federal mandates on local government, and they want your money to come and pay for this.

I hope that my constituents in Tennessee understand this and are listening to this because Federal mandates are something that they are tired of, and I hope that they are listening. I hope the American people realize they want a bigger government. They want to grow it. They want more Federal control on our State and local governments. They want more Federal mandates on local governments, and they want the money out of your pocket to come and pay for it.

They want to make the taxes we have got on the books higher. They want higher taxes. They want higher rates, higher fees, more taxes and in more areas of your life. They are the elitist of government, and they think that they know better than you know. They want to give the government that too often tramples on your rights more power. That is a game plan. Centralized power for them and less individual freedom for you and for me, for your family. That is their vision.

For 10 years the Republicans have been in the majority here in the House. We have done a lot of good things. We have balanced budgets. We have faced debt which has been brought on by recession and war. We have pushed hard to get an out-of-control Washington bureaucracy under control and to get it reduced. We have enacted major, major tax reform and tax relief for working families. We have put 98 programs up for elimination this year. We have taken a hard-line approach to terrorism. We have gone after the ridiculous regulations, overly burdensome regulations that strangle small business, that keep entrepreneurs from taking an idea that they have and growing that idea and bringing it to fruition, getting capital for that idea, getting that idea into a commodity that goes to market. Those are the regulations that we are addressing and rolling back so that we are freeing up free enterprise.

We have worked to prevent the sort of universal health care plans the left proposes that would destroy the quality of care in this Nation. What do my constituents want to see in health care? Access, access to health care. Physicians in communities, physicians who are able to open their doors and practice. That is what they want to see. Not a one-size-fits-all plan that is directed by some bureaucrat sitting in a building in Washington, D.C. They want a physician in their community. That is what we are working for. Freeing up health care, access to health care.

Mr. Speaker, you will hear a lot of complaints from the left about tax relief. Well, you know, they just absolutely despise tax relief. My constituents seem to appreciate marriage relief, marriage tax relief, child tax credits, sales tax deductibility, lower income tax rates. Goodness, a lot of my constituents even tell me if 10 percent is good enough for God, it ought to be good enough for the government. Let us get that rate down even further, even further. They know better how to spend their money than the Federal Government, and they would like to be keeping it.

You know, one of my colleagues earlier today mentioned something I want to talk about for just a second. Today, despite the war, despite natural disasters, we have seen that in the third quarter of 2005 that our GDP grew at 3.8 percent. And I hope my colleagues are listening and hear this. This year, this quarter, despite a war, despite natural disasters our economy has grown 3.8 percent.

Now, for everybody at home that is a booming economy. That is tremendous growth, and we believe debt reduction requires a booming economy and spending reductions. You grow the economy and you cut back on

your spending. You cannot cut the debt without both elements. You have to work it from both sides of the table. Make the tax reductions that are going to allow that economy, the free enterprise sector, to grow; and at the same time when you are looking at the public sector, start reducing what government is spending. It is an amazing thing.

You reduce what you are spending, you increase those revenues, your deficit is reduced and your debt is reduced. Hard as they try, the Democrats in this body cannot make the case with a straight face that raising taxes, which is their platform, raising taxes, raising those taxes on American families, that raising those taxes will increase economic growth. It just does not happen. 3.8 percent growth.

Mr. Speaker, I will have to remind my colleagues also that equals jobs, it equals jobs growth. We have seen over 3 million new jobs in 2 years. We are seeing more. It equals increased small business manufacturing output, small business manufacturing output increases rights here on American soil. It equals a more productive free enterprise.

Well, let me get back to our 10 years of majority here in the House. Last night I watched the left attack those 10 years of work; and as I said, in my opinion we have done a lot of good things in those 10 years and we have suffered some setbacks, and in my opinion we are not done. We have got a lot of good work left that we can do. We are going to continue taking the shackles off free enterprise and freeing it up.

We are going to continue getting government off the backs and out of the pockets of hard-working American families, getting government off the backs and out of the pockets of small business owners all across this great land. We are going to continue working, restoring individual liberty and freedom and hopes and dreams. What you see is a work in progress because there is always room to improve, but our agenda is the right agenda. Yes, we want to see across-the-board spending reductions; the left does not.

We want to see major immigration reform that gets this illegal immigration crisis under control. We want to see border security addressed immediately this year. The left does not. We want to see a very aggressive global war on terrorism that treats terrorists like the murderers that they are. Many on the left do not join us in that desire.

We want to see a tax reform and relief that takes this nightmare of a Tax Code that we have volumes and volumes and volumes and simplifies it so that it is simpler, it is flatter, and it is fairer. The left does not.

Mr. Speaker, we have heard a lot of talk about independent commissions around here lately. Well, a lot of the folks in my district are not real happy when they hear talk of independent commissions. They feel like that is our job. They have got people on the left just clamoring for a Katrina Commission. Well, now, I do not know about you, but who needs a commission to tell us that government failed? It seems pretty obvious to me. The city of New Orleans government, the Louisiana government, the Federal Government all failed. Period. I do not need a commission to tell me that.

I would hope that the Democrats do not need an expensive government commission to tell them that either. What I do know and what I believe the left does not know is that failure can be laid right at the doorstep of this massive wasteful bureaucracy that you and I and every American taxpayer is paying for day after day after day. Bigger is not always better. Bigger is not always more responsive.

One of the things we learn is that smaller local governments are generally the ones that are on the frontline, that are more responsive to the needs of communities. That is where the rubber meets the road.

We are paying a lot for this bureaucracy, and we are getting very little in return on our money. What we get is a slow process. We get the runaround. We get less accountability.

The left in this country had control of this House for 40 years prior to the Republican majority, and in that time they created an enormous, huge bureaucracy. Over the past 10 years, we have been trying to reform and reshape that government, to make it more responsive to the American people. As I said, it takes time because they fight us every single step of the way. Every time we try to reduce something, to reform something, to cut back, to pare down, they fight us.

Clearly we have not succeeded enough or the Katrina response would have been better, but I beg to differ when the left criticizes Republicans for this big, ineffective government. If we had our way, if they would join us, we would be looking at companies like FedEx, one of our good Tennessee companies, for ways to reform government for the 21st century. We would be looking at other constituent companies in Tennessee, people like Tractor's Supply Company, efficient small businesses that work well.

The Democrats are more concerned about the jobs, about the jobs big government creates than the jobs small business creates, and they are more concerned about those big government jobs than they are about the effectiveness of government. How dare we ask a Federal agency to pare down? How dare we ask them to reduce their payroll? How dare we ask them to become more effective or more efficient?

I want everyone at home to know that it is Republicans who want a government that is leaner, that is smarter, that is more responsive. We want to reform government. We want change.

I think there is a philosophical difference between the Democrats and the Republicans. They think government, big government, big buildings, big programs is the hallmark of a great Nation. We Republicans think that great individuals, individuals with freedom and power and hope and opportunity, that is the core and the center of a great Nation.

We want to drag a bureaucracy that is based on 19th-century government into the modern age, drag them kicking and screaming if necessary, because we do not believe big government equals effective government.

There are some core functions our Federal Government should be capable of handling. Defense and disaster response are clearly at the top of the list, and we should not let an outdated system and an overgrown civil service deliver poor service slowly.

In closing, I know that many on the left are going out and slamming our across-the-board spending reductions. They are slamming our budget control ideas. They do not think government has room to cut.

Mr. Speaker, in the 3 years I have been in this Congress, I have sat through oversight hearing after oversight hearing where government agencies have the absolute audacity to tell us that they cannot account for millions of our tax dollars, millions upon billions of dollars, and in the same breath they ask for more funding. Enough.

I want to see reform. I hope this body wants to see reform. I want to see spending reductions, and I want a government that will actually perform its core functions.

Many on the left have been standing in the way of reform. They want to protect the bureaucracy that was built over 40 years of their control. I think it is their monument, and, yes, they will stand here and they will rail against every reform we have ever offered because it is their crowning achievement. It is the monument to themselves and their policies.

But I think it is time for the American people to know that this party and this leadership is focused on the American family. We are focused on families who are strong and productive and free, families who are free, Mr. Speaker, free to dream big dreams, free to have great adventures, to live out those hopes and dreams.

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