30-SOMETHING WORKING GROUP -- (House of Representatives - December 19, 2007)
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Ms. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ. Thank you, so much, Mr. Meek and Mr. Ryan and Mr. Altmire.
Let me tell you something else that we are laying down our marker on. We are not going away. The obstructionist Republicans might think that they have our number and that they have been able to block the efforts of this Democratic majority in trying to move this country in a new direction, but they will be sadly mistaken as we gradually turn this ship of State around. It takes a long time to turn a cruise ship around, something that is the size of this government, and it takes a long time to undo the horrendous damage that was done to this country during the 12 years of Republican majority in this Congress.
We slowly have been peeling the film of the culture of corruption that hung over this Capitol before we took the majority back.
We have feverishly worked to move this country in a new direction to expand access to health care, to make sure that we put our domestic priorities on the front burner. Now, we might have done that within the President's number, and that's essentially not what we wanted to do. What we wanted to do is make sure we weren't spending 10 times more in Iraq to continue this war than we were to increase the funding for health care and for education and for veterans health care funding. That's why, within the President's overall budget number, we reordered our priorities. We made sure that instead of cutting NIH funding grants and cutting health care, that we increased funding for the NIH grants. We made sure that we provide access to health care instead of cutting it by $595 million, that we increased it so that we could expand access to health care to more people. We made sure that instead of cutting veterans health care benefits we passed still the largest single increase in the history of the VA, a $3.7 billion increase.
We have a Democratic stamp on this budget. We passed a budget that has our priorities, the American people's priorities, and refocuses attention on the domestic needs that we have in this country, and we will be back after this recess and make sure that we are going to focus on the needs of the American people.
I'll be happy to yield to my friend
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Ms. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ. If the gentleman would yield on the energy issue, specifically, we're trying to make sure we expand our investment in alternative energy research, that we use renewable energy resources, that we make sure that we reduce the carbon footprint that we have here in America, that we really significantly impact the continuing global warming that we have.
And do you know what our good friends on the other side of the aisle, Mr. Altmire, have been trying to preserve? They've been trying to preserve subsidies for the big oil industry. That's the thing that we were not able to get done because the Republicans in the Senate and here blocked making sure that we could repeal $13 billion in subsidies for Big Oil, the most profitable industry in America.
Mr. RYAN of Ohio. Will the gentlewoman yield?
Ms. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ. I'm happy to yield to the gentleman.
Mr. RYAN of Ohio. We are moving in a new direction. We pushed and pushed and pushed with this AMT to get it paid for--$50 billion. And what we were going to do is close down loopholes where hedge fund owners and hedge fund operators are putting money offshore and basically hiding it. And the Democratic Party, Speaker Pelosi, our Blue Dogs united, liberals, Democrats, conservatives, all of us united saying pay for this. If not, the tax is going to tax people making 50, $75,000 in New Castle and Scranton, PA and Youngstown and Florida, so we wanted to pay for it.
The Republican Party opposed us paying for this by going after hedge fund managers period. You can read all the articles. Read all the analysis of what happened here.
So they sided, Madam Speaker, with hedge fund managers who are making billions of dollars a year.
Then we tried to repeal some of the issues dealing with the oil companies and making sure they're paying their fair share. The most profitable industry in the country is getting subsidized. And we're saying, no. We need to take some of that money and we need to invest this in alternative energy.
Again, in the Senate the Republicans stood strong to make sure that that did not happen. So in two instances, whether it was with hedge funds managers or with the oil companies, we were trying to make sure we brought some equity into the system and paid for making sure that our middle class doesn't get a tax increase.
Ms. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ. If you'd yield for a question.
Mr. RYAN of Ohio. I'll be happy to yield.
Ms. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ. So in the time that I have been involved in public service, which is over 15 years now, the mantra of our good friends on the other side of the aisle has always been that they are the party of less government, and that they are the party of fiscal responsibility. And in recent history, and in long-term history, my understanding is that it's this President that built up more foreign debt than all 42 previous Presidents combined, and this President that took us from a $3 billion surplus to a $5 billion deficit, in his first term,
Mr. ALTMIRE. Trillion.
Ms. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ. Excuse me. Trillion. Forgive me. Trillion dollars. And so who, the question that I have for you is, so which party is the party of fiscal responsibility? Which party can be trusted to make sure that we have a vibrant economy, that we create jobs, that we don't operate in a deficit situation and that we have PAYGO rules that ensure that we don't spend more money than we take in? Which one would that be?
Mr. RYAN of Ohio. That would be the Democratic party.
Ms. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ. Okay. I wasn't quite certain because if you listen to the rhetoric on the other side of the aisle, they talk a good game. But when it comes to action, backing up the words with action, just like when the President stood in that rostrum a couple of years ago and laid out the notion that we should end America's addiction to foreign oil, but then promptly pushed an energy bill through the then Republican Congress that gave away those $14 billion in subsidies to the oil industry that we're now trying to repeal. That was just unbelievable. And I can't use certain words that I think should be applicable to that situation because it violates the House rules, so I won't. But I think we all know what the definition of saying something and doing another actually is.
Mr. RYAN of Ohio. And this is all about, you know, borrowing of the money. And as the gentlelady from Florida said, I think everyone at some point has mentioned it here tonight, $3 trillion in the last 6 years borrowed from foreign interests, raised the debt limit five times, borrowing from China and Japan. And my nephew, little Nicky Ryan, who's, you know, 2 years old is saying to us, what are you doing? Uncle Timmy, what are you doing?
We're passing it down, passing it on. Someone's got to pay this bill. And it's your kids and your kids and Kendrick's kids who have to do it.
I yield to my friend.
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Ms. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ. In my wrap-up remarks, first of all, I want to thank each of you that are parts of the 30-Something Working Group, and Mr. Murphy, who headed home to his family this evening, for continuing to hang in here and coming out. We certainly could have disbanded the 30-Something Working Group, Mr. Ryan. We could have said, you know, our work here is done. We won the majority and now we can just, you know, go make good policy and go home. But it's clear that our work is far from done. We have a lot left to do on the agenda. We have to make sure that we deal with expanding access to health care, that we continue to push for the remaining provisions of the energy bill that we were not able to get included. We have to make sure that we focus on bringing our troops home. And people need to understand that we're not, we're going to be relentless in continuing to try to make sure we do that.
People should understand that the vote tonight did not pass with, the vote on the funding for the war in Iraq did not pass with a majority of Democratic votes. It passed with a majority of the Republican votes. This is this President's war and this is the Republicans' war, and it will continue to be their war. They are the ones that are leaving our troops twisting in the wind with their families being separated from them with repeated, over-the-top tours of duty, three and four times over there, having more than a year, less than a year between tours of duty.
We've got to make sure that we think about our troops and focus on the fact that it is clear now, even with the reduction in violence, Mr. Ryan, that the Iraqi leadership has made no progress. And they've made no progress because they don't need to because they know right now with the message that this President is sending that we're going to be there as long as they need us. There's no pressure, no incentive, and we need the American people to understand that we will continue to come out here; we will continue to talk about the priorities that they care about. And now that we're in the majority we're going to continue to press to adopt those priorities and shame the Republicans on the other side of the aisle every single day until we get dangerously close to this election and we put some fear in their hearts so that they don't continue to stick with this President who is completely wrong on the priorities that the American people care about.