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The Continued Misdirection of the Country

Location: Washington, DC

THE CONTINUED MISDIRECTION OF THE COUNTRY -- (House of Representatives - May 10, 2006)


Ms. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ. And the astronomical increase we have had in gas prices, which affects everyday Americans every single day, has just been unbelievable.

Actually, Mr. Carnahan, we have a chart that illustrates those drastic increases, that is being brought over right now, that I think would be helpful; because I am a visual person, and graphically depicting some of these significant problems is really helpful.

Mr. CARNAHAN. I have to add, by the way, you have great graphs.


Mr. CARNAHAN. And I loved your top ten.

Ms. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ. We have good graph-makers among our staff.

You talk about summer gas prices. Just look at the difference over the years since the Republicans have been in charge.

In 2002, Mr. Carnahan, the average price of a gallon of gas was $1.39; that was the summer of 2002. Then you go to the summer of 2003, it was $1.57. 2004, $1.90. Move over to the summer of just last year, $2.37. And then this April, just last month, we hit $2.91. Now, most of us in the last several weeks have all paid over $3 in most communities across America.

So this is the reality of the rosy Republican economy that they have been describing and painting for us over the last several days.


Ms. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ. You are absolutely right. One of the other elements of our alternative budget plan would embrace once again, as was the policy during the Clinton administration and when Democrats controlled the United States Congress, was the concept of PAYGO.

That is, I know, with you as a member of the Budget Committee and Mr. Spratt as the ranking member, is an idea that our Democratic Members have championed as a part of our alternative. And we have done that on a number of occasions and attempted to get the Republicans to go along with us and the concept of PAYGO.

PAYGO is very simple. We came from States, and in our State legislatures you have to operate in the black. Just like people who are members of their families, they struggle not to have to go into debt, not to have to live paycheck to paycheck and not to have to go into massive credit card debt.

Unfortunately, the Republican leadership here does not subscribe to that philosophy, and that is evidenced by their rejection of pay-as-you-go rules whereby we would not spend more than we have.

On March 17 of last year, Mr. Spratt, our ranking member on the Budget Committee, offered a substitute amendment to the 2006 budget resolution that failed 165 to 264, no Republicans supporting pay-as-you-go legislation. And we have the rollcall indicating that we were supportive.

Again, Mr. Spratt offered another amendment dealing with PAYGO that would have reestablished PAYGO, 224 Republicans voting ``no,'' none voting ``yes,'' and it failed, to 232. So we have certainly tried. It is not for our lack of trying to make sure that we restore some fiscal discipline here.

The thing that has been the most frustrating for me as a new Member of Congress, and I am sure it is a frustration you have faced, is that the Republicans try to lead people to believe that they are the party of fiscal responsibility. Yet, I am someone who believes that actions have to back up words and talk is cheap, and that seems to be all that they have been about since I have gotten here.


Ms. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ. What makes that more obscene is that the energy bill that Mr. Carnahan referred to at the beginning of our hour highlighted the fact that not only did the oil companies make universal record profits. Let us take it beyond the galaxy, we gave away our rights to collect revenue from them in exchange for the drilling rights.

I mean, what so many people do not realize is that the government owns the land underneath where the drilling takes place, whether it is in the gulf or whether it is on land. The United States Government owns that property, and we give the oil companies the right to drill there in exchange for tax revenue and fees. In that legislation last summer, we forgave all of those fees. We gave it to them for free.

Then a few weeks later they are making universal, history making, record, earth shattering profits and now people are paying more than $3 a gallon for gas, and we gave them our gas rights, our oil rights. It is unbelievable.


Ms. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ. Mr. Speaker, if the gentleman will yield, only to clarify who the hypocrites are, because if you separate where the Democrats' voting record is on energy and making sure that we focus on alternative energy like in our Innovation Agenda we rolled out in November, which includes an ironclad commitment that when we take control of this Chamber that we will within 10 years wean ourselves off of foreign oil and become energy independent. So the hypocrisy exists on the other side of the aisle. So I just want to make sure whose hypocrisy we are talking about.


Ms. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ. Mr. Speaker, we have been talking about energy supplies and the cost of a tank of gas and how difficult it has been for Americans to deal with those increases, and another equally important issue is how people are going to continue to be able to educate their children from their youngest age all the way through higher education.

One of the things I think it is important for us to highlight tonight is the devastating budget cuts that this Republican budget puts forward in terms of the public education needs that we have.

Literally, the Republican House budget resolution would make the biggest cut, and I think I am right, correct me if I am wrong, the biggest cuts to the Department of Education in 23 years. I guess the only thing that would be worse would be when they proposed to completely eliminate the Department of Education, but they are not doing that. They simply have the biggest cut in 23 years.

The budget resolution cuts next year's Department of Education budget by $2.2 billion, with a B, below this year's funding level. It matches the President's budget cuts in his budget proposal dollar for dollar. Rather than increase education funding, both of the budgets, the Republican leadership's budget and the President's, grossly underfund education, social services and training programs. They cut those programs $4.6 billion below the amount needed to maintain current services. They eliminate completely 42 different education programs, not ones that people would think are not necessary anymore, but things like vocational education, safe and drug free school State grants, a college readiness program for low income students and both parts of the Federal Perkins loan program. It is just really unbelievable. You talked about priorities. This is where the Republicans priorities are compared to where we are as Democrats.

Ms. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ. Mr. Cleaver, they do those things. It is the Republicans that do those things. I just want to point that out. When you are using ``we,'' that includes us and we don't do that.


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