PROVIDING FOR CONSIDERATION OF H.R. 7110, JOB CREATION AND UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF ACT OF 2008 -- (House of Representatives - September 26, 2008)
Mr. FLAKE. I thank the gentleman for yielding.
This has been quite a week, Mr. Speaker. I would venture to say that this is the most expensive week in the history of the Republic. I don't think anything ever will even come close to this in a number of years. We are talking about a $700 billion bailout. We had CRs that passed. And then we have this that comes to the floor. And if those at home are wondering why there are so few here in attendance, it's probably because they know that this isn't going anywhere. Gratefully, this stimulus package isn't going anywhere.
The Senate already tried to pass something and failed. And so this as a vehicle is not going anywhere. And people around the country should be very grateful for that. We call it a stimulus bill.
Mr. OBEY. Would the gentleman yield?
Mr. FLAKE. I would for 15 seconds.
Mr. OBEY. Let me simply point out the Senate package failed because they loaded it up with 32 additional items. We tried to keep this skinny and thin so that it's fiscally responsible and has a chance of getting the President's support.
Mr. FLAKE. I thank the gentleman. And if somebody can call a $61 billion bill ``slim,'' then let them try. But this one, you can try to call it ``stimulus.'' But stimulus to me, and I didn't like the last stimulus bill we passed here in Congress. And I didn't vote for it. But to call this ``stimulus'' is a real stretch. People at home want to keep more of their own money and not send it to Washington and then to have Washington turn around and say, well, I think that what we really need and what we needed to take your money for in the first place was so we can spend another $500 million in Amtrak for Amtrak projects, or another billion for transit and energy assistance grants, or $3 billion for green school improvements. I don't think anybody sitting at home thinks that that is very stimulating at all. I think they would be much more stimulated if you let them keep the money they have.
Let's be honest here. What this is is a stimulus bill. And it's meant to stimulate the electoral prospects of a couple of hundred Members here. That is what it's about, so Members can come to the floor or send out a press release saying, do you know what I got? I got $1 billion for capital management activities for public housing agencies. It's nothing more than that. That is what this is about.
But I think the danger in this is with a 9 percent approval rating, I think we could go into more historic lows here when people say they aren't really serious, a bill that isn't going anywhere, and they stand up and just say all right, this is if we could spend this money, here is where we would spend it.
We have to keep in mind that earlier this week, we did something that in my 8 years we have never done. Now I wasn't kind to my own party on earmarks. I thought that we let it go out of control. And the new majority came in and put in some decent rules which we have now broken just about every month. And what we did earlier this week was pass a CR where we brought to the floor a bill that had not even gone through the Appropriations Committee. And then we added 1,200, or there were 1,200 earmarks that were put in this bill that were not known to the Members of this body until a day before it came to the floor. Now we've done that kind of thing before. But what we have never done before that we did earlier this week is not give Members of this body the ability to even challenge those 1,200 earmarks.
Nobody could stand and say, why are we spending $1 million for the Presidio Trust or the Presidio Heritage Center in California? What is that about? Who is actually getting the money? Why are we doing this? Nobody had that chance, because we had a secretive process where earmarks were added into the bill with no ability to amend it out.
The SPEAKER pro tempore. The time of the gentleman has expired.
Mr. HASTINGS of Washington. I yield the gentleman 1 additional minute.
Mr. FLAKE. That is simply not right, and neither is this legislation.
You can keep going. $50 million for the cost of State administrative expenses associated with carrying an increase in food stamp benefits. How is that going to stimulate the economy? Let's be honest. It is meant to stimulate the electoral prospects of a couple of hundred Members here. That is what this legislation is about. Gratefully, it is not going to go anywhere, because the Senate vehicle went down.
Mr. McGOVERN. Mr. Speaker, let me just say I have a great deal of respect for my friend from Arizona, but I have to respond by saying that another tax cut is not going to rebuild a broken bridge in Massachusetts that because of years of underfunding and years of a lack of commitment by the Federal Government is now dangerous. A tax giveaway to an oil company, another tax giveaway to an oil company is not going to build a school in California or Arizona or anywhere else, and another corporate tax break is not going to provide anybody health care.
The bottom line is that I will respectfully say to the gentleman that this Democratic Congress has been way more fiscally responsible, by light-years, than his party has been. Bill Clinton left office and left this country with a surplus. We now have the biggest debt in the history of this country. We have a war in Iraq that is $10 billion a month, and nobody on the other side believes that we have an obligation to pay for it. It goes on our credit card.
We cannot neglect the basic needs of this country, which we have been doing, unfortunately, for the last 8 years. We need to get back to basics.
I yield the gentleman 30 seconds.
Mr. FLAKE. I thank the gentleman for yielding.
I am glad he brought up the bridge. I didn't bring up any bridge, but since he has, the last transportation bill that we passed when we were in the majority, that all but eight Members of this body voted for, I believe including the gentleman, had the infamous Bridge to Nowhere and a few others. Included in that were 6,300 earmarks.
If you want to know why we aren't spending on those projects, those bridges that are broken down that really need repair, is we are spending it all on earmarks, and we shouldn't be doing that. But I thank the gentleman for bringing that up.