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Mrs. BIGGERT. Madam Speaker, I rise tonight to call attention to our economy and the fiscal discipline we need to implement to get our country back on the right path.
Right now, the American people are hurting; and Republicans want to work with the President to get the American people back to work. We want to get the economy going again. But we do know, and the American people know, we cannot tax, spend, and borrow our way back to a healthy economy. So we really want to be included in the opportunity to solve our problems, and this is a huge problem.
Just a couple of days ago, there was a summit held at the White House on health care, and they had Members of Congress, they had experts in the health field come together to look at how we are going to solve this problem.
The economy right now is the hugest problem that we have. Why aren't we working together and really coming together to solve this problem? We have so much expertise in this Congress. We have economists, we have people in the industry. We really should be sitting down to solve the problem, rather than going back and forth and arguing on the House floor, because our country and the international economy is suffering. And it is not the first time nor the last. We have seen crisis like this before and we have pulled through. So I am optimistic that we can get together and really work to solve the problem.
And look what happened on 9/11. We came together. We came together as a Congress, united to face that problem and to face that challenge, and to find the solutions and how we were going to deal with it. This is another problem. Not maybe as quite the magnitude; maybe it is, but we need to get together and really work together.
We face the largest economic decline since World War II, along with unprecedented domestic unemployment. February's numbers show that there was 8.1 percent unemployment. And we face unprecedented foreclosures, facing about one in nine families right now. It is time for us to unite again as leaders and pull through once more.
I wish that the administration would convene this bipartisan, bicameral summit to focus all of our energy on solving economic problems. We want to solve health care, we want to solve energy, we want to solve climate change. We want to do all of these things. We want to solve education. But I think all of that energy really needs to be brought to one force to come back and address the economic situation. We should be focusing on saving and spending plans that put America on a path to responsibility and long-term success.
With TARP money of $700 billion, a housing bill that was $300 billion, with the recent passage of the $825 stimulus package, and with the Federal Reserve putting so much money into some areas, and a pending $410 billion appropriation bill, I have to say that my constituents are upset. They are upset because the spending appears to be recklessly out of control, with no accountability or direction. And, unfortunately, with the recent release of the administration's budget for fiscal year 2010, we continue down this heavy spending path. And while we only know the basics of the budget proposal, it certainly has been a mixed bag.
So tonight we are here, and we want to address the concerns in the budget. There are the good, the bad, and what we call the ugly. I have a little chart here that addresses the President's 2010 budget. As I said, we have got the good, the bad, and the ugly.
We acknowledge that there is an entitlement crisis, that there is a budget fix for the AMT. We are looking at the Medicaid part D. With the bad, there is an increase in spending of $3.9 trillion in 2009. It increases nondefense appropriations by 9.3 percent. The war funding is a gimmick. The ugly, a $1.4 trillion tax increase in a recession, $1 trillion entitlement expansion, in the 2009 deficit, $1.8 trillion. And we double the debt.
These are the things that we are going to be discussing tonight, and I am glad to have my colleagues here to participate. I would like to call on the gentlelady from Tennessee for her comments right now, Marsha Blackburn.
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Mrs. BIGGERT. I thank the gentlelady from Tennessee. You have done so much in bringing out all of this to our attention. And I really appreciate it.
I would like to just read a paragraph from one of my constituents, a woman in the district named April. And she said, ``First, thank you for voting against the stimulus package at the beginning of February. As an independent, I am disturbed by what has happened in Washington these past few weeks. I am urging you and Members of Congress to exercise restraint when examining the President's budget and any other stimulus packages. Eliminate wasteful spending. The American people are mindful these days of their own budgets at home, and so should the Federal Government.
``In addition, what happened to the President's and other Members' promise that they would eliminate earmarks? It seems like Washington needs some management. Thank you for your time.''
And with that, I would like to call on my good friend from Florida, GINNY BROWN-WAITE.
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Mrs. BIGGERT. I thank the gentlelady for bringing up the tax issue. I am reminded of the words of Ben Franklin: ``In this world, nothing is certain but death and taxes.''
We certainly have to think that the President's recent budget proposals essentially, and unfortunately for American families and small businesses, can bring a certainty to the latter, and that is taxes, and increased taxes to be specific. I appreciate you bringing that up.
I have another letter from one of my constituents, Rich. He says, ``The current budget proposal is a path to nowhere, in my opinion. It will lead to a tax increase for all Americans. There should not be a carbon tax on businesses. All that will do is raise prices and cut jobs. Instead, put an incentive for businesses to lower energy. Also, why increase capital gains taxes at this time, or at any time. All that does is force businesses to go elsewhere. We need to keep the taxes where they are or lower for businesses. We need to encourage companies and people to invest in the U.S. The net effect is more profit which leads to more tax revenue for the country. Just taxing the rich doesn't work.'' And I thank Rich for that letter.
Let me talk about a couple of other taxes because I think the important financial task before Congress right now is fostering economic growth. Number one is keeping taxes on families down; and number two is helping American business stay competitive; and three, eliminate wasteful spending in Washington.
In one of my former lives I was a probate lawyer and estate lawyer. I frequently witnessed the devastating effect that the estate tax or death tax had on family-owned farms and businesses. I think that we did put a limit on that. We changed it. Since 2001, Congress passed a 10-year tax cut package that included a provision that would slowly phase out the death tax and eliminate it all together in 2010.
However, the administration budget proposes that we continue to tax, to use the estate tax at 2009 levels instead of what we should be doing and permanently zeroing out this onerous tax, this double tax. So instead of 2010 when it would have been eliminated permanently, if this passes, and you have to remember the President proposes and the Congress disposes. But if it were to happen, we would continue with a tax that taxes about 3.5 million at a 45 percent rate. That's a little lower than it has been in the past sometimes. The only good thing about it is it does bring back the step up. During these uncertain times and turbulent times, I don't think that it is time to place another tax burden on families and small businesses. It is certainly time to cut taxes and encourage businesses and families so they will be able to create jobs.
One other tax that really concerns me is the budget proposes to limit deductions for charitable contributions, and we know how much contributions have meant for this country from the time of early on in the country with all of the things that so many of these famous families did, like the Rockefellers or the Carnegies. Each year many people give contributions to charities and nonprofits. Why should we discourage this in any way, especially right now. So many people benefit from so many charities like, Catholic Charities or the Jewish Federation and all of the small charities. So I strongly believe in charitable giving and have supported many bills to encourage it instead of asking the Federal Government to do it, and that is like bringing back much more big government. So I will continue to support tax policies that encourage charitable giving.
Regarding homeownership, here we have been dealing with families and foreclosure rates and what is happening. And now the budget proposal is to limit the mortgage interest deduction. This is a direct hit to family budgets and discourages homeownership at a time when we need to encourage homeownership. It is limited. Again, it is to the higher rate taxpayer. But this again is going to trickle-down with what it does with homeownership. We need to make homeownership more affordable. Homeowners may currently deduct the interest paid on mortgages from their interest tax liability. So millions of homeowners enjoy the benefits of this deduction which does encourage homeownership through an annual tax savings. Although general support for this tax remains strong, I think it is irresponsible to slash this benefit. I support tax policies and now will yield to another one of my colleagues, the gentlewoman from Minnesota (Mrs. Bachmann) who is here to address some of the women's issues and how we approach the budget that we are looking at.
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Mrs. BIGGERT. I thank the gentlelady from Minnesota (Mrs. Bachmann).
I know that this is what we're hearing from I think all of our constituents about having their life savings, their retirement accounts decline. I've got a letter here from another one of my constituents saying, ``My life savings, including retirement accounts, have declined to the point where I am unsure I will ever be able to retire or make another major purchase of any kind. How many more negative Wall Street stock market losses will it take before the new administration realizes that their reckless spending without a true plan to correct the economy will destroy all of us to a point that retirees and us close to retirement may never recover from their continuous blunders?'' So I thank the gentlelady for bringing that to our attention. I appreciate it.
And now I would like to ask the gentlelady from--Wyoming. I'm sorry I messed up on a new Member's State, but the gentlelady from Wyoming, Cynthia Lummis. I'm happy that you're here.
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Mrs. BIGGERT. I thank the gentlelady from Wyoming. Thank you for your expertise on this issue. I think that you've really been able to bring new thoughts on this and really put it very succinctly in what's happening in this. And next we have to deal with nuclear energy, too, and really continue to build that up. So I thank you for doing that.
And next we have the gentlelady from North Carolina, who you see on the floor a lot. She provides us with so much knowledge, the gentlelady from North Carolina, Virginia Foxx.
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Mrs. BIGGERT. I thank the gentlewoman from North Carolina, who has been such an outstanding spokesman for, I think, the women on our side of the aisle, and I appreciate all that she has had to say.
Let me just kind of return to kind of the thought that I had when we started this Special Order. I think that we really do still have to recognize that the American people are hurting. It doesn't matter if they are low income, middle income, or high income. We have to call attention to our economy and the fiscal discipline that we need to implement to get this country back on the right track. Not only are our people suffering but our country is suffering and so is the international economy, and I think that we really need to work together.
As I said before, we want the President and the administration to succeed. We need to find the solution to the problems that we face in this country and our economy, and I think that we stand here ready and willing to help. But we have to do it right. We have to make it happen. And I think that's when we'll all work together, and I would hope that there would be some sort of a summit where we really focus. I think that we are spread out in this first 6 weeks, 7 weeks of an administration in what has been happening in health care and the economy and education and energy and sciences and all the things that we are trying to do at once. I think we need to focus that energy on solving the problems of the economy.