PREPARED REMARKS OF HOUSE REPUBLICAN LEADERS AT A PRESS CONFERENCE
PARTICIPANTS: HOUSE MINORITY LEADER JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH); REP. ERIC CANTOR (R-VA); REP. MIKE PENCE (R-IN); REP. CATHY MCMORRIS RODGERS (R-WA); REP. MARY FALLIN (R-OK)
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REP. BOEHNER: Well, it's good to be back and to see all of your smiling faces after a two week recess.
As you all know, we are approaching President Obama's first 100 days in office. And as we do the economy continues to slide, unemployment continues to increase and the spending and taxing and borrowing here in Washington continues to go up, as well. I just believe that there is way too much of it.
This Sunday, we come to National Debt Day. National Debt Day is the day during the fiscal year when we have spent all of the revenue coming in to the federal government. And so after Sunday - every dime that is spent, every new program that is approved - the money has to be borrowed from our kids and grandkids. This National Debt Day is three and a half months earlier this year than it was last year because of the stimulus bill - the trillion dollar stimulus bill and the $350 billion worth of TARP money that's been spent. And clearly, the $410 billion omnibus spending bill that was $30 billion over budget and had 9,000 earmarks in it. And so, it's no wonder that Americans across the country are rising up and are saying "enough is enough."
I attended a taxpayer tea party in Bakersville, CA, and people are angry and they're scared. They're not really scared about themselves but they're scared about the future for their kids and their grandkids because they understand that the kind of spending that's going on here and borrowing that's going on here will imprison their kids and grandkids futures.
Republicans will continue to offer better solutions. We had a better solution on the stimulus bill that would have cost half as much as the Democrats' plan but created twice as many jobs. We had a better solution on the budget that would have meant less spending, less borrowing and certainly, no new taxes. We're going to continue to work on better solutions for the American people and with that, let me turn it over to our Whip, Eric Cantor.
REP. CANTOR: Thank you, Leader. As we near the end of the first 100 days of this Administration, I think we can also reflect back and see that the era of bipartisanship we had hoped for could probably be improved upon. And I believe that's how we come back from the Easter recess, to say to the President we do want to work together, that we can actually unite. Washington should be more thoughtful about trying to deliver for the American people.
Just the other day, the President announced that he was going to ask his cabinet secretaries to cut $100 million out of their budgets collectively. Now any amount of savings is commendable, but I think that we can do better. There is an enormous amount of opportunity for us to work together, to actually produce real savings for the American people. And I would just ask this, Mr. President, we want to work with you, the people are watching. We have an opportunity to really deliver on change and to save some real money for the American people.
REP. RODGERS: Good morning everyone. Over the last two weeks I had the chance to walk the Main Streets of many of the towns in Eastern Washington and in Spokane, the mom and pop stores of small business owners. And no matter whom I talked to or whom I heard from, whether it was on Main Street or in these town hall meetings, the message was the same. People are concerned about the future of America. They are seriously concerned about the debt.
We are facing a $9 trillion increase in the debt, and that's going to be on the shoulders of our children and our grandchildren. They're concerned about the lack of accountability, the lack of oversight. Really, there is no transparency in how these precious taxpayer dollars are going to be spent. So bottom line, as they are having to make tough decisions and tighten their belts, they don't see the federal government doing likewise. The federal government is spending on a credit card like crazy, and yet they are having to make tough decisions, and they are very concerned about when that bill is going to be due.
REP. FALLIN: Good morning, I'm Mary Fallin from Oklahoma.
I'm very fortunate to come from a state that has tremendous energy production. And in my state, my oil and gas, my energy producers in Oklahoma are very concerned about the Obama Administration's proposals on energy. We want to step forth today as Republicans and tell the President we are willing to work with him on reducing our dependence on foreign energy and helping to find alternative forms of energy. But the way he is proposing it, with increasing taxes on oil and gas and production and exploration will devastate the energy industry especially in Oklahoma.
We've already seen a 39% reduction in gross production taxes in our state, which is a $2 billion drop out of a $7 billion budget. We're already seeing job loss. We're already seeing companies, and I'll give you one specific example of a company in Tulsa who said that they last year drilled 36 wells and this year they plan on drilling zero. No production, because they are waiting to see what Congress is going do with Cap and Trade and with the proposed tax increases-- energy taxes on the energy industry. It is estimated that the proposed tax increases in President Obama's budget will increase taxes on energy by $30 billion and cost up to 7 million jobs at a time when our economy is in a downturn and a time when people are concerned about keeping their jobs and paying their bills. And the portion of the population that would be affected by these energy tax increases will be our poor and our elderly and those who have to spend a larger portion of their income on paying for energy costs.
Whether it is higher utility costs or higher gasoline costs, it's estimated these new energy taxes, what we call Cap and Tax--Cap and Trade, could cost the average family $3,000 a year in increase costs. And once again, at a time when our economy is down, when people are struggling to pay their bills, stay in their homes, and keep their jobs is not a good time be enacting policies that will hurt energy production.
REP. PENCE: Mike Pence of Indiana. In addition to my duties as Conference Chairman, this leadership team asked me to head up an Energy Solutions Working Group. We brought together the best and brightest minds in our Conference to both confront the Democrat plan to pass a national energy tax and also to offer positive solutions. We are in the process of doing that and it is none too soon.
This week on Capitol Hill we understand that on Thursday and Friday the Democrat Majority will begin hearings on the cap-and-trade bill. The President we understand is today going to Des Moines, IA, to talk about green jobs. The American people deserve to know how this is all going to affect them. They deserve an opportunity to count the cost of climate change legislation but because the Waxman- Markey bill includes no numbers on the cost to utility companies and the cost to the American people we are going into this process, subcommittee hearings this week, possibly a markup next week, without the information necessary to make informed choices.
The reality is, according to a study that was done by MIT, the average American household could face increased energy cost of $3,128 per year. But that is an independent estimate based on an independent study. What we need is for the Democrats in the Congress to come clean with the American people on the cost of their clean air legislation.
Now we also know that even the President of the United States acknowledged as a candidate that the cap-and-trade bill would have a dramatic impact on the cost of utilities for the American people. In January of 2008 then candidate Barack Obama said, "Under my plan of a cap-and-trade system electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket." The President went on to say "this will cost money and they," meaning the utility companies, "will pass that money on to consumers." And being from Indiana, being from the Midwest, and I expect many in Iowa where the President is arriving today, I have a particular concern about the cap-and-trade scheme that is being forwarded by the Administration and by Democrats on Capitol Hill.
An independent study done by the Heritage Foundation that analyzes on a state by state basis those states most impacted by the cap-and-trade proposal of this Administration demonstrates that the heartland of America, from Iowa where the President will be today to Indiana where I was born and raised and serve, the heartland of America will be most decisively impacted. The reality is, the cap- and-trade legislation offered by the Democrats amounts to an economic declaration of war on the Midwest by liberals on Capitol Hill. The American people have a right to know. They have a right to see all the numbers. They have a right to understand how this cap-and-trade legislation will affect them and their families and their small businesses and their family farms.
We call on the President, we call on our Democratic colleagues: come clean on the cost of your clean air legislation.