Mr. KING of Iowa. Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the honor to address you here on the floor of the United States House of Representatives, and it is always an honor to address you, Mr. Speaker.
I have spent some of the last hour listening to my colleagues, whom I appreciate voicing their opinions as well. I would like to take up some of their issues at the beginning, and then I will roll it into the subject matter of this next hour that I have.
But first of all, when a statement was made by the gentleman from Tennessee that Rush Limbaugh wants Obama to fail, he didn't say that, Mr. Speaker. He can't be quoted anywhere as he wants Obama to fail or President Obama to fail. It wasn't his intent at all. You have to listen to what he actually said.
He said he wants his policies to fail. That was a message that's clear. It's been reiterated over and over again across the media and this country, Mr. Speaker. So I have to come here anD raise the issue in the beginning that that was a statement that was made, Mr. Speaker. Rush Limbaugh said that he wants President Obama's policies to fail so that we can go forward and preserve and protect and enhance our freedom and our liberties and our free market economy and perhaps, and I hope it's not so, perhaps our national defense as well.
I will stand with him on that. I have opposed these policies of overspending. I opposed the stimulus plan, and I opposed the bailout plan that came in the previous administration.
It was clear from where I stood that you simply cannot take money from the producers of this country and pour it into a void without a plan or a strategy and how it's going to emerge. Still, the U.S. Treasury couldn't tell us the results that would come from a $700 billion bailout plan. The President of the United States can't tell us the results that will come from hundreds of billions of dollars, and, actually, more than $1 trillion when you add the interest stimulus plan.
And so without a definable goal here, except the idea that spending is stimulus--and I disagree with that philosophy, spending is not stimulus. But, believing that, then the people on this side of the aisle have said, well, this is a comprehensive proposal, it's well thought out. We are going to have a more responsible budget than George Bush had, and in the end we are going to have this economy that is going to grow to the point where we will be able to do this magnificent thing called ``cut the deficit in half'' by the beginning of President Obama's second term.
I heard that over here, too, although he really said by the end of his first term, which I think is more likely if they keep going down this path.
So the words ``cut the deficit in half'' echo to me. That was a goal that was laid out by President Bush. So it seems to me that President Obama, Mr. Speaker, is following at least one of the patterns of President Bush.
And I will tell you I was not particularly moved by the idea that we could cut the deficit in half in 4 years or 5 years or whatever that might be. I didn't come into this political life with half of a goal. I'd want at least a whole goal. So if we can cut it in half in 3 1/2 years or 5 years or whatever the case may be, why couldn't we just eliminate it? Or maybe we could just double that period of time. If we could cut it in half in 4 years, maybe we can cut it in half again in another 4 years, and then we'll be down to only 25 percent of this huge deficit that we have now.
But, Mr. Speaker, this deficit is breathtaking. We are looking at the current administration's budget of a deficit of $1.75 trillion. And we heard him speak to us of having to construct one leg of a multi-legged stool to get us out of this economic crisis that we are in. Well, the one leg, you have to add the bailout money from last fall and the $1.1 or 2 trillion from the stimulus plan from just a little over a week ago, package that together, and without many of these things that got poured into by administrative action, you're at a $2 trillion leg for one stool of what, according to the President, is a multi-legged stool. So if a leg costs $2 trillion and it's multi-legged, I know it's not a milk stool. That would be a one leg. It's not a two-legged stool. I've never seen one of those. It's not a three-legged stool or he would have said so. So I have to presume that this stool that's going to be the rebuilding architecture of this formerly free market economy is going to be at least four legs at $2 trillion a leg, which nearly doubles our national debt.
I remember the President's media personnel speaking on the morning of the President's address here in the joint session, Mr. Speaker, and he said our national debt is 10 percent of GDP, that we have to do something about that. It's too high.
Well, his current budget, the one that's just been defended by my colleagues from the other side of the aisle, takes that share to more than 12 percent of our GDP. In fact, it's 12.3 percent of our GDP. That's the current President Obama budget. So this 10 percent of GDP that is national debt today becomes a 12.3 percent of national debt if this budget is enacted into law, and a lament that comes from his spokesman is we've got too high a percentage of our GDP in our national debt.
Well, Mr. Speaker, I think there's another number that we should be concerned about. I'm concerned about that. I'm concerned about the daily interest rate, that if all of this is enacted into law, the American people will be paying $1 billion a year just in interest alone, $1 billion a year.
Now, I hearken back to 1992 when President Clinton was elected. He was elected under the belief of the American people that we were in a recession, and he convinced the American people we were in a recession, and you might go back and look at the definitions and parse that so that it was, I'll say, marginally true. But President Clinton came to this Congress, Mr. Speaker, and he asked for a $30 billion, that's 30 billion with a ``b,'' economic incentive plan, and that was supposed to put money out into the hands of people so they would spend it because the belief was that spending is stimulus. It was going to create, though, jobs like the AmeriCorps is today and put this $30 billion into this, and it was going to bring us out of this recession that was defined during the presidential campaign of 1992. President Clinton brought that argument to this Congress, $30 billion. And this Congress, being a Democratic Congress, debated the $30 billion, chopped it down from $30 billion, finally got it down to $17 billion, and then decided, well, we're not going to do it after all. So they threw the idea of the stimulus plan over the side in 1993, after having taken a $30 billion idea and reduced it to a $17 billion idea, and they pitched it overboard because it wasn't a good enough idea. Well, today we have budgets that are proposed by the President of the United States that brings us to the point where we'll be paying $1 billion a day, not $17 billion in an economic stimulus plan like 1993 but $1 billion a day. So, for example, when the fiscal year kicks in--let me say the calendar year. That's a little easier thing to think about, Mr. Speaker. But when the calendar year kicks in, if you want to keep track from the day you're watching your bowl games on how long it takes for the Federal Government to spend as much money on interest as it would take to have paid for the entire Bill Clinton stimulus plan, well, from January 1, 2, 3, 4, on up to the 17th of January, boom, you'd be done. That would be economic stimulus freedom day, the 18th of January, if you're paying this at the rate of this stimulus plan we have today.
Now, compare that 17 days at $1 billion a day to pay for the entire Bill Clinton stimulus plan to just the interest that we'll have here in the Federal Government if we let this all go forward that's being proposed out of the White House today. That's $365 billion just in interest. That's not a stimulus plan, I'll suggest, Mr. Speaker. I will suggest that's anything but a stimulus plan. It works against us. It drains capital from the private sector. It drains capital from the productive sector of this economy.
So Rush Limbaugh didn't say he wants President Obama to fail. He said he wants his policies to fail because he's about freedom. And I'm about freedom. And we ought to be about quoting people correctly. Maybe if the gentleman from Tennessee actually listened to the words that Rush Limbaugh said, maybe he wouldn't have been so outraged. Maybe he would have just said, well, we have a legitimate philosophical disagreement, que sera. It would be okay. But that's not what's happening. They are seeking to criticize a high-profile individual in America in order to demonize him so that that individual can be put up as a poster for the things that they want to claim is wrong with their predecessors.
Well, here's the problem, Mr. Speaker. This has been a Democratic Congress for more than 2 years. The 110th Congress was all in the control of Speaker Pelosi. She received the gavel up here in January of 2007. There's no Federal spending in America that doesn't start in this Congress by Constitution. So any of the spending that's been initiated since that day has been initiated right here on this floor in the end in the House of Representatives. And our budgets and our deficits become the budgets and the deficits of the Democrats that are in charge. That's Speaker Pelosi. That's Leader Hoyer. That's the committee Chairs and the people who have been handed the gavel by the Speaker.
And the American people need to understand that this isn't something that's driven by the minority today. The minority that we have here today has always driven for balanced budgets, fiscal responsibility, strong national defense, strong personal responsibility, strong families, defended the rule of law, protected the borders.
So we are today with a President that's going to cut the deficit in half by the beginning of his second term,
but he's got to create this huge deficit in order to cut it in half. So if you go out and start biting off chunks of the GDP and grow from a 10 percent deficit of GDP to a 12.3 percent deficit of GDP, if you have a President's budget that's being proposed that takes a greater and greater share of the GDP of America, it isn't just the deficit that counts here. The share of the gross domestic product that was being consumed by the Federal Government at the beginning of the Depression in the early 1930s was 3.4 percent, Mr. Speaker. By the time the New Deal had been implemented by Franklin Delano Roosevelt and we got into the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, which essentially ended his New Deal, the Federal Government was by then taking over 12 percent of our GDP. It went from 3.4 percent of GDP at the beginning of the 1930s, and under FDR it went to over 12 percent of GDP before you factor in the extra spending that had to take place in the Second World War.
Now, FDR had a significant utility to this country in leading us through the Second World War. I do not take that away from him. I applaud him for that stolid leadership that he provided. But he didn't solve the economic problem. And anybody that can come to this floor and engage in this debate and point out for me some data that shows that the New Deal, which was profligate spending, unprecedented growth in the Federal Government role, consuming from 3.4 percent of GDP up to 12 percent of GDP, and not having anything to show for it, there's not a legitimate debate on the other side. The New Deal did not get us out of the Great Depression.
To be charitable, it may have, and I emphasize ``may have,'' diminished the depths to which we might have otherwise fallen. I'm not convinced of that, but I will just concede that that could be the case. The data may show that if you didn't pour enough government spending in, maybe, maybe things would have completely collapsed and we would have had to build up from almost nothing or nothing as opposed to building up from almost nothing plus one. So maybe the New Deal programs diminished the depths to which we might have otherwise fallen. It certainly provided some soup kitchens and some WPA programs and CCC camps, and the Federal Government stepped in and hired a lot of people, competed directly with the private sector, by the way. That's what happened with the New Deal. And the recovery process that was needed to take place when capital was willing to take the risk again, when entrepreneurs were willing to take the risk again, that recovery took place through the Second World War.
This is where I don't see it quite the same way either as the President does, Mr. Speaker. I don't take the position that the Second World War got us out of the Great Depression. I take the position that the Second World War started our recovery from the Great Depression. It brought about a massive growth in production in America in our industry, and it positioned us that by the end of the Second World War, we were the world's industrial power because we had ramped up our industrial production here to meet the demands of the world in the Second World War. And at end of the war, we were essentially the only industrialized country that had maintained our industrial base without its being destroyed by war. So we had a comparative advantage, as Adams Smith would say, against the rest of the world. And our economy grew, and America built more things and sold more things both domestically and abroad. And by 1954 the stock market had recovered to where it was on the day that it crashed in October of 1929. It wasn't the New Deal that got us out of the Great Depression. The Second World War gave us a very good start, as tragic as that world event was, but the recovery required another 9 years just to get back to where we were when the stock market crashed in October of 1929. Franklin Delano Roosevelt had been dead for 9 years before the stock market got back to where it was. So it's not his achievement necessarily. I think that it actually slowed our recovery.
And now we have, Mr. Speaker, a President who believes that the New Deal was a good deal, that FDR essentially lost his nerve and was too concerned about spending too much money. So he's concerned that FDR essentially backed down, and if he had just kept spending more and more money, then he would have been able to have this Keynesian effect, a real stimulus effect that would have brought us out of the Great Depression before the Japanese attacked us on December 7 of 1941. Well, the world will never know. That isn't what happened.
But the world also knows that there is no historical model for bringing about an economic recovery by taxing your citizens to death and transferring that wealth to other people and paying people not to work and by asking people to go forward and spend money that you hand to them. That's a temporary stimulus, if at all. And we tried that early last spring, a $150 billion temporary stimulus plan. And you can look for the blip in that. What happened to the consumer spending? What happened to jobs? It didn't even show. In fact, about 70 percent of those $150 billion that were injected into the economy in rebates were saved or used to pay off debt. They didn't stimulate the economy. So some of it was tax relief and to that extent it was good, but on balance it wasn't a stimulating plan. This is a huge plan based upon the same philosophy. Spending is stimulus is what President Obama has said, Mr. Speaker.
I looked back and I read through some of the documents written by John Maynard Keynes. This is pure Keynesian economics. It was Keynes that said I can solve the world's unemployment problem. We will just do this. We will go out to an abandoned coal mine and I will take U.S. currency and we will bury it in these holes around this abandoned coal mine. Then we fill the coal mine up with garbage, and then we'll turn the entrepreneurs in the country loose to go around and dig it up and be able to pick up this cash and take it out and spend it.
He said he can solve all of the unemployment problem in the country if you just give him enough cash and they could drill these little holes around in abandoned coal mines and then fill the coal mine up with garbage and then let the people dig through it. That would give them a job, of course, digging up the cash, and then they would take the cash out and spend it, and that would solve the economy.
Mr. Speaker, we are not going to solve an economic crisis until we produce. We have to provide incentives, which means getting government out of the way and reducing taxes so that people will produce. If they produce something that has value, they will take it out and market it and sell it and our economy will grow. And that is how you stimulate the economy, by increasing production, not by increasing spending. And it needs to be competitive production that gives people a comparative advantage against the rest of the world.
Innovations in the area of technology, for example, entrepreneurs that start businesses, people that are trading, buy, sell, trade, make gain, produce market, be smart about it, but do not punish the productive sector of the economy, or you will wait a long, long time for a recovery. We know that they waited a long time for the recovery of the Great Depression, from 1929 to 1939 to '49 to '54. All of that time, a complete and entire more than a generation before they saw the recovery that was brought about by two things, the Second World War and by the industrial productive might that we developed and the effect of that on the world's economy.
So, if you create, as a President of the United States, Mr. Speaker, a huge deficit, and then you say, oh, by the beginning of my second term in office I am going to cut my deficit in half, how would that be? It would be like the family budget, if I would go out and spend, let's say $2,000 more per month than I make, I would have a $2,000 a month deficit. And that would then be a $24,000 a year deficit.
But I could make my pledge to my financial advisor that I am going to cut that deficit in half and just cut it down to $1,000 a month. And if I needed to really bite the bullet and say, well, I am going to have to do more than this, I could maybe increase my spending to $3,000 a month or $4,000 a month, and then next year it would be easy enough, I would just cut it back to $2,000 a month and say I cut my deficit in half. I am still spending the same amount I was, and I still have the same kind of deficit I had.
That is the kind of smoke and mirrors language that is coming out of the White House today, and the American people, Mr. Speaker, are sitting there accepting it. They are accepting the idea that if you spend a couple trillion dollars, if the White House spends a couple trillion dollars appropriated here, out of the beginning of the spending into the House of Representatives, and that $2 trillion in the stimulus plan is going to, get this language, save or create 3.5 million jobs.
All right. Have we lost our senses? Don't we see through that clearly? I mean, this isn't any kind of blurry, opaque lens we are looking through. This is crystal clear in focus. Save or create 3.5 million jobs. Not new jobs, not defined jobs, not in any particular sector. Not create jobs. Save or create.
So, I guess I could go back to a pretty low educational level and ask maybe one of our children, figure this out. If you are going to save or create 3.5 million jobs, and if you have got a workforce of about 142 million here in the United States, let's just say that it is really clear that President Obama is going to accomplish that objective. I can guarantee that President Obama will accomplish the objective of saving or creating 3.5 million jobs, because, first of all, they aren't new jobs, and second of all, if you don't create a single one and you still have 3.5 million jobs left in America, you have met your promise.
These are carefully parsed words and pieces of language. This isn't something he is speaking off the cuff and bouncing around in between other meetings. It isn't like he was ambushed by the press. This is the speech writers carefully putting this language together. It has been repeated over and over again.
As far as I know, the press hasn't said, Mr. President, isn't it true that if there are 3.5 million jobs left in America, you will have kept your promise? That is what the promise is, Mr. Speaker.
There are also many other promises. One of them is we are going to have a carbon tax. So we are going to tax energy. Well, everything that we have in America takes energy to produce or deliver. A cup of coffee takes energy to heat it. It takes electricity to fire up the coffee pot. It takes energy to transport it. Everything we have takes transportation. It takes trucks, it takes rail, it takes trains. All of that burns energy. Almost all of it takes energy, hydrocarbon energy that comes from petroleum.
So if we are going to tax the carbon that is petroleum, if we are going to tax that we are taxing everybody in America. They are going to tax your light bill and your gas bill. That is your heat bill. Your gasoline bill as well. And this tax isn't going to be something that is put on your invoice. It is going to be something insidious. It is going to be something that creeps and sneaks into your bills so you don't see it. It will be immeasurable.
I can just guarantee you if this happens, there won't be any study done in this Congress or anywhere else that is official at least by government that will tell you what it costs you to pay this carbon tax. But it is so far measured at $646 billion, the carbon tax.
We are going to pay a tax on carbon. Why? Because we have some scientists who have decided that they want to tell us all that we are suffering from global warming. Climate change now is the word. And I will just say, pay attention to language. We have gone from global warming, well, actually we have gone from ice age. I remember ice age in the seventies. There was one scientist that was a lead scientist on predicting that we had a coming ice age, and he has now shifted over to the other side. Now he says no, the Earth is in global warming and we should backpedal from that as it was as we can.
But we have gone from ice age to global warming, and now global warming is kind of hard to hold because the Earth has been cooling for the last 10 years, so we have to change the language to climate change.
Now, if you have to fix the climate change problem, you will be able to do that forever. In fact, we always complain about the climate changing on us on a regular basis, wherever we come from. In Iowa, the climate is changing all the time. Just wait 5 minutes, it will change, we say. I talked to a fellow in Mississippi this morning. He says the same thing.
Climate change is going on all over America in little microcosmic ways. But you can address that and say we are going to fix it with government. We are going to fix it with a carbon tax. We are going to tax your energy.
If you tax our energy, you are taxing every single component of America's economy. You can't turn on your computer without taking energy. You can't light up your Blackberry. You can't make a cell phone call. You can't turn on your lights. You can't get in a taxicab or on the Metro or drive your car. I suppose you can't ride your bicycle or go out to the farm and pitch a couple bales. But they have already figured out it takes energy to do that, and they are measuring against ethanol. A farm worker takes 4,000 calories a day to go out there and do the work. Now, I think he is overeating just a little bit. But they have measured it. Calories are energy. Human consumption of food is energy. Everything takes energy. Energy is based on carbon, and they want to tax carbon to the tune of $646 billion. Then, to make sure it really goes to the right place, the White House wants to tax oil and gas directly, $31.5 billion dollars.
And, by the way, if you thought you made a pretty good living and maybe jumped through all these government hoops and were able to establish an estate, then we have it set up so we were seeking to get completely rid of the death tax. But President Obama is convinced that they are going to come back with the death tax and eliminate the loopholes, so now you can't even hope to die for free.
That is all going on. And on top of that, we are in two wars, Mr. Speaker. Two wars. There is still a conflict going on in Iraq, and I am transitioning into that, and there is clearly a conflict in Afghanistan which President Obama has ordered a surge.
Now, it seems a little odd to me that the President of the United States would not admit that the surge worked in Iraq, but he would order one in Afghanistan, even though they are two different countries, I agree, and it is a tough battle going on in Afghanistan, and I am going to stand with him on the orders he has given.
There are many more components to it, and I trust the White House is going to build out the State Department side of this, the economic side of this, and the strategic neighbors, and hopefully put together a more cooperative approach to this so that we can have a broad and complete solution in Afghanistan. I will stand with him on that, as tough as it is.
I will not walk away from our military. Not our military. I stand with them and I stand with their mission. Their mission has been in Iraq, and everybody serving there in the last few years not only volunteered for their branch of the service, but they volunteered knowing that they would be likely called up to go to Iraq. Many of them volunteered for that mission. That is our military; selfless, noble, self-sacrifice, bravery like the world has never seen. The best trained, the most disciplined, the best equipped, the best armed military the world has ever seen.
Yet on the floor of this Congress, Mr. Speaker, in the 110th Congress, the previous Congress, there were more than 40 votes brought to the floor that were designed to unfund, underfund, or undermine our troops while they are at war under orders to face the enemy. And they face them in a way that was a 360 degree battlefield. You never knew when they were going to be hit, there was no one that was in a safe zone, some safer than others.
Yet in all of this, President Bush took a look and decided he did not
want to capitulate to the other side. And even though the advice that he was getting from many of his top military officers was essentially we are not in a position to win this war, Mr. President, and the implication was that he should just simply order a withdrawal, let me put it this way, a cynic would say declare victory and leave, but you can never declare victory and leave and call it a victory in a war.
In a way it is like a street fight. The person that is standing there when it is over is the one that wins. And if you don't occupy the territory you fought over, you don't get to say we won that war, we just got tired of it and left and when home. The world knows that, history knows that, President Bush knows that.
That is why he had the vision and the leadership to give the order for a surge. It was a well-researched strategy that had many components to it, not just the military tactical, but many the other components to it as well. And as that strategy was put together, and I made a number of trips over there and met with our top officers while this was being put together, I was sold on the strategy before it had a name, I was sold on the strategy before it was actually shaped. But we see now what has happened.
President Bush ordered the surge and we swelled the troops up to over 150,000 there. He made the order. And, of course, our troops nobly complied and they carried out their mission in a fashion that still amazes more than half of this Congress, most the country and even more of the world.
But, today the Pelosi Congress has established 18, 18 benchmarks that needed to be achieved in Iraq before they would be willing to support the efforts and the spending that is going on there. I took this in the middle of those 40-plus votes that were designed to unfund, underfund or undermine our troops, I took those benchmarks that were essentially imposed upon the Iraq effort to be setting the bar so high that it could never be achieved because so many were invested in defeat in this Congress.
Yet of the 18 benchmarks, 17 of the 18 benchmarks have been wholly or substantially achieved in Iraq. And I don't have that list in front of me, but I can tell you the one that is not yet been achieved, and that is the benchmark that requires the Iraqi Security Forces to be completely independent from U.S. military support.
So, that would be that the 613,000 Iraqi Security Forces that are in uniform today that have been trained and equipped by our military, standing up a military from a beginning takes years, but of those 613,000, by that 18th benchmark they would all have to be able to operate independent of U.S. communications, U.S. logistical support, U.S. training, U.S. intelligence, the list goes on of all the things that we are providing them and helping them with today.
I think that is a generation away before they reach that level. I think the 18th benchmark was completely unreachable, although they have made substantial progress. But I won't say it has been substantially completed or wholly completed at this point. So 17 of 18 benchmarks, and the remaining one is an independent Iraqi Security Force. Seventeen of 18 benchmarks have been achieved, Mr. Speaker.
I am introducing, I have today introduced a resolution that addresses this. The resolution is a resolution that acknowledges and recognizes the achievements there. Seventeen of 18 benchmarks have been achieved. That is one point.
Another is American casualties in Iraq. Since the 30th of June, 2008, we have lost more of our military to accidents than we have the enemy; more to accidents than we have the enemy, Mr. Speaker. That is a measure too of a war that is going in the right direction.
The civilian deaths in Iraq have gone down by 90 percent and the ethno-sectarian deaths in Iraq have dropped by 98 percent.
There's a long period there where you had no sectarian deaths, where statistically so low that they were not reportable.
And yet, I remember, some of my colleagues over here and some of our Senate friends saying the war in Iraq is lost. It can't be won. We've been defeated. It's a civil war. There are sectarian deaths. It's out of control, and we need to get out people out right away, just maintain enough of a rear guard so that they don't get shot in the back as they retreat from Iraq. That's essentially the message that came from a good number of people over on this side of the aisle, Mr. Speaker, and a number of them in the Senate as well, and that was part of the debate on these 40-plus votes that were designed to unfund, underfund or undermine our troops.
But what's happened is there has been substantial achievement in Iraq. We have achieved a definable victory in Iraq. And I've introduced a resolution today that lays out the history on how we got there, the authority that was invested in the President of the United States by this Congress to engage in military action if he saw fit, and the responsibilities that he accepted and that our military accepted, as well as the things that went wrong, and then the things that went right.
But three elections almost, the last election was so successful there wasn't a single significant security event involved in the last election in Iraq in the last weekend of January, this year. And so they ratified a constitution. They've had three successful elections, they have an effective central government. And Maliki has become a powerful and influential leader that had the courage and the temerity to order his own troop actions to go down into Basra last year, and that turned out to be something that seemed to be tenuous but turned out to be successful, and it was a key component in establishing Baghdad and the central government as being in charge in the country of Iraq.
So however we measure this, by any complete objective measure, there has been a definable victory achieved in Iraq.
That's what this resolution does, Mr. Speaker. And it thanks and honors our military for their sacrifice of life and limb and blood and treasure and time away from their homes and having their destiny changed. No one served in that country without having the destiny of their life turned in one way other. Some of them lost their lives. Some of them lost their limbs. All of them were affected in a way that it changed them, in a small way some perhaps, and in a very large way, others. It caused the breakup of some families. There were divorces because of the long deployments. There was a price paid by wives and husbands and children.
And yet, in this country, we bicker here trying to undermine an effort. And now, this Congress has a chance to say thank you for all of that sacrifice. This Congress has a chance to ratify this resolution and put it into the Record, in the Congressional Record for all time.
And some of the language in this resolution, Mr. Speaker, follows like this: The United States House of Representatives extends its gratitude to all those within the military and civilian departments and agencies of the United States Government who were responsible for directing the implementation of the surge strategy, including General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker.
The U.S. House of Representatives recognizes the importance and significance of victory in the Iraqi theater of the larger global struggle against radical Islamic jihadists terrorists.
And the United States House of Representatives commits itself to working with President Obama and his administration to continue the progress that has been made on the ground in Iraq since the surge strategy was implemented, recognizing that a definable victory has been achieved in Iraq, and that history will judge President Bush's successor by his ability to maintain his predecessor's victory.
That's what's been achieved in Iraq today, Mr. Speaker. And I stand with President Obama in maintaining and in building upon the achievements that have been made in Iraq.
This resolution is about honoring the accomplishments to this point. And it's about asking and actually challenging all of us to stand with those who have sacrificed so much so that price has meaning, so that the destiny of America, the destiny of every individual that served there was changed by their experience there. The destiny of America then needs to be changed also, as the benefit from the price that's been paid.
The destiny of America can be defined by the course of liberty and the course of freedom. And we have watched freedom be expanded around the world. I've watched it in a number of ways. Sometimes we've just fought them to a draw, and sometimes we expanded freedom dramatically. Free market capitalism expanded freedom around this world probably more than any war that there ever was. But those things fit in conjunction with each other.
The Second World War expanded freedom. If it hadn't been for that, we would have been either under the control of the imperial Japanese or the Nazis. And yet, we defended freedom. We expanded freedom.
Still, February 11, 1945, at Yalta, Winston Churchill, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Joseph Stalin drew a line on a map, and the line on the map was the line west of which people would live in the free world and east of which they would live in the slavery of communism. When that line was drawn, February 11, 1945, that set the destiny for people for more than a generation to come, 2 generations to come.
But by November 9, 1989, the Berlin Wall came down. This Cold War that we'd fought for all of those years, along that line that was drawn at Yalta by Stalin, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Winston Churchill, that line fell, that was the Iron Curtain. It came down literally with a crash, beginning November 9 when the Berlin Wall started to come down. And freedom echoed for a time, all the way across Eastern Europe, all the way across Asia, all the way to the Pacific Ocean. That was the result of this victory in the Cold War.
And the Yeltsin era came in, in Russia, and the satellite states for the Soviet Union declared their independence, and most of them are essentially independent today. But freedom has diminished back across that vast land of Russia. It's not what it was during that era. Most of the institutions of freedom have been diminished or eliminated by the Putin era within Russia.
But we advanced freedom, we advanced it in the Second World War dramatically. But the line was drawn, drawn between the east and the west, the line of the Iron Curtain. Then the Cold War was won and the Iron Curtain came crashing down, and hundreds of millions of people breathe free that would not have otherwise.
We found ourselves, though, in a conflict in Vietnam, which was the last direct military conflict between freedom and communism.
Now, the problem with losing your nerve and losing your will when it comes to foreign policy cannot be measured in, well, it's no longer convenient to support a war in Iraq. I'm unhappy and uncomfortable with the cost or the casualties that are there, so I'll make an objective decision to rationalize and pull out. That's something that was going on. That was some of the thought process that's going on by many of the people that are on staff today at the White House.
But there is a destiny of the free world that America leads that has to be attended to. It's our duty and it's our charge, and so, I'll submit this, Mr. Speaker, that America was viewed as the superpower of the world. We viewed the Soviet Union as the other superpower. We called them that. But much of the rest of the world saw us as the only superpower in the world. And we had never lost a war. The world didn't expect us to lose a war.
But when I picked up this book, this is a book, Vietnam's top military strategist tells how we won the war by General Vo Nguyen Giap. This is the general that commanded the North Vietnamese military during the Vietnam War. And General Giap, G-I-A-P, he writes in here some things that are illuminating.
Now, this isn't a very good book, and I don't recommend, Mr. Speaker, that people go out and buy it. I can give you the essence of it here in just a little
phrase. And again, the title of the book is How We Won the War. The commander of the North Vietnamese, and he says here that the U.S. had already begun its decline from the position as the only superpower. This book is copyrighted in 1976, so it was written right after the fall of South Vietnam. General Giap said the U.S. had already begun its decline from the position as the only superpower. He viewed us as the only superpower in the 1970s and in the 1960s. That's one way to look at it. But he said the U.S. failure to win in Korea was the turning point.
So, Mr. Speaker, here's the lesson. We had a Korean War, and we negotiated a settlement rather than press for an all out victory. I'm not commenting on what was the right thing to do then from a military tactical standpoint. I am commenting on this: Settling for a negotiated settlement in Korea resulted in an inspiration for the North Vietnamese, that America didn't have the will to press for a victory in Vietnam, so they fought a war of attrition. They fought a war of attrition that went on for more than a decade. And the price for that was 58,000 American lives, hundreds of thousands of North Vietnamese lives. And this Congress voted to shut off all funding, not just to support American troops who had already been pulled out of South Vietnam. If you remember Vietnamization. The Vietnamese were taught and trained and equipped to defend themselves, and they had stepped up, and they were doing that.
This Congress shut off all funding. And I went back and read the legislation. And it says, no money, none of these funds or any funds heretofore appropriated shall be spent in Vietnam, North Or South Vietnam actually, and in Cambodia or Laos, on the skies overhead or the seas beside these countries. In other words, whatever money was in the pipeline to go help the Vietnamese boys defend themselves, as I think that was the language that they used at the time, that money was shut off too. Money that I was already appropriated by a previous Congress and already sent by a Commander-in-Chief was shut off by this Congress, along with any other appropriations. When that happened it starved the defense of South Vietnam. No wonder they capitulated. They didn't have anything to fight with. And the legacy is left that the United States walked away from one of our friends and our allies.
Well, it started with Korea, a negotiated settlement, and we got to Vietnam.
And then, Mr. Speaker, I find myself sitting in a hotel in Kuwait City, waiting to go into Iraq the next day. The date was June 11, 2004. And I didn't know at the time, I don't think, about General Giap's look at Korea as his inspiration. But I was watching Al Jazeera TV, and I couldn't understand what they were saying, but they had English closed-caption. And I heard this, I think, in Arabic, come out of the mouth of Muqtada al-Sadr, who said, if we keep attacking Americans, they will leave Iraq, the same way they left Vietnam, the same way they left Lebanon, the same way they left Mogadishu. And I wrote those notes down when I heard that. But it also was branded into my memory, Mr. Speaker.
Our enemies in Iraq and our enemies around the world are inspired if they see lack of resolve. General Vo Nguyen Giap was inspired when he identified lack of resolve in a negotiated settlement in Korea. And our subsequent enemies in places like Lebanon and Mogadishu were inspirations as well to Muqtada al-Sadr and our current enemies that we have. These are all the terrorists worldwide. They talk about this. I mean, this is not something that is an original thought of Muqtada al-Sadr. This is something that's being voiced around the world to encourage and recruit our enemies.
And I'll say, America didn't, they couldn't win in Korea. They couldn't win in Vietnam. They pulled out of Lebanon. They pulled out of Mogadishu, and they will pull out of Iraq, is what they were hoping.
Well, Mr. Speaker, there is no military tactical reason to pull out of Iraq to avoid the conflict that's there, because much of our enemy has been mopped up by U.S. and Iraqi forces working in conjunction with coalition forces that are still there.
We must maintain this victory that has been achieved. I have defined it tonight, Mr. Speaker, for you. We must maintain it because this is the point where we turn the destiny of America again at the price of the destiny of hundreds of thousands of military who have served in that country. Now we can turn the destiny of America toward the positive side again, and we can hand to the next generations the world's only superpower, who may have lost its will in Vietnam, who should not have pulled out of Lebanon in the stage that it was in, who should not have left Mogadishu, but who did stick it out in Iraq and who did ensure that the Iraqi people had their chance at freedom, that they had their chance at liberty, that they had their chance to be as they are quickly becoming: a moderate Muslim state that is our ally in the Middle East in an ideal strategic location for them to influence the Middle Eastern part of the world and in an ideal tactical location.
The Iraqi people on our side are understanding this: We didn't ever go there for their oil. We didn't ever go there to occupy. We went there to end the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein, and that happened.
Whatever you argue about whether the full spectrum of all of the reasons were intact or not, the fact remains that the President had to make a decision based upon the information he had. He made that decision. Once it was made, we stood with our troops and with their mission. Their mission has been wholly or substantially completed and will be, but we've got to remember that this is a fragile definable victory that has been achieved, and we cannot squander it, and we need to honor the Commander in Chief who gave the order of the surge, and we need to honor the people who brought it about. That does include the Iraqi people. It includes the Sunni awakening. It includes the commitment by them in understanding that, again, we didn't go there for their oil, and we didn't go there to occupy. We went there to give them a chance at freedom. They have their chance, and they will continue, and they're actually reaching harder and stronger than maybe they have the capability of doing.
When I sit in these briefings, I get this, and this wouldn't be a classified component. It's a concern that the Iraqis have maybe a little more confidence in their military capability than they actually have. Well, that's the right place for them to be, to be stretching and pushing this thing and to be asking for as much of their own military autonomy as we can give them. We've given them much. We've given them at least all of the security in at least 14 of the 18 provinces and maybe more, and I might have missed one or two. We handed over to them Anbar province, a place where 2 1/2 years ago I couldn't go because it was too dangerous, a place where, in downtown Ramadi, there was not a building that was not shot up. It was a rubble. It was a city of rubble that had been fought over so many times--a city of death.
I went shopping in downtown Ramadi and, additionally, in Fallujah where I've been several times. By the way, the mayor of Ramadi sounds like the mayor of Peoria. He says, ``Get Baghdad to send me a little more money down here. I need more sewer, water and lights. We're rebuilding this town. We've got to get everybody off the dime. Why is it stuck? We need to go to work.'' That's what they're doing and what they've done.
In Fallujah, the mayor of Fallujah says, ``We are a city of peace, and we are going to repair every building in this city so there's no sign of war.''
If Fallujah is going to be known as the ``city of peace,'' well, Mr. Speaker, that's what has been accomplished over the last number of years and especially since the surge was ordered.
This resolution that I introduced today is a resolution that calls upon this Congress to recognize that and to honor the price, the sacrifice, the accomplishments, and the achievements. It also asks the President: Hold this together. Nurture this along. Let's not make a political decision on the deployment of troops out of Iraq because it's a promise that you made 3 1/2 years ago when you were a State Senator. Let's make sure that this is a tactical decision and also a political decision and an economic decision and a strategic decision. If you're going to make decisions like that, when you make an announcement that all of the combat troops are going to be out by the last day in August in 2010, as a Commander in Chief, you've fenced yourself in politically. What's the point? You can order those troops to be deployed out of this and can have all of our combat troops out by the last day in August of 2010 without having to tell the world. Just start that progression.
We've already started it, and it makes some sense to do that. It may even make a lot of sense to do that. It just should never, ever be a political decision, and there is no need to announce it. Then also to announce that, by the last day of 2011, all of our military will be completely out of Iraq, that's actually what the Status of Forces Agreement says, but it also says that we can renegotiate this.
So, Mr. Speaker, I'll submit that we've accomplished a lot in Iraq. We have accomplished so much that we've achieved a definable victory there. This Congress needs to celebrate the achievement of the definable victory in Iraq. We need to applaud everyone who has served there in uniform and especially those who have given life and limb and their families. It is a noble, noble act by a noble, noble people.
It is best expressed, I think, at the Korean war memorial where it says, ``This Nation honors our men and women who answered the call to serve a country they never knew and a people they never met.''
It has happened over and over again from the United States of America. It has happened again in Iraq. It's happening in Afghanistan. We need to preserve those precious victories. We need to end this legacy of not having the will to complete the task that we've started. We need to end this propaganda that's coming out of the mouths of our enemies that says, well, we'll leave Iraq the same way we left Vietnam, Lebanon and Mogadishu. We can't have Osama bin Laden sitting in his cave up there in Pakistan, saying, ``Well, they will leave Afghanistan the same way they left Vietnam, Lebanon, Mogadishu, and Iraq.'' If that happens, we've got a much larger enemy that we have to face and a much more determined enemy that we have to face.
They know they've lost in Iraq. They've said so. It says so in this resolution. We have quoted some al Qaeda leaders in this resolution that they have recognized they have lost tactically the war in Iraq. They don't have the ability to engage in any kind of an organized military way. They can cause some trouble, yes. There are a few of them left in pockets, particularly in Mosul, and they're being mopped up as we speak, but there has been a tremendous amount that has been accomplished.
If the President can make the charge that he inherited a $1 trillion deficit and somehow then the responsibility for this economic crisis that we're in all falls back on his predecessor because he has inherited a $1 trillion deficit, never mind he has offered a $1.7 trillion budget--but if he can take that position over and over again that he inherited a $1 trillion deficit and this economy, by implication, is all going to be on the shoulders of George W. Bush, then at least, Mr. Speaker, he can accept the responsibility of Iraq and the state that it's in and can preserve the definable victory that has been achieved.
That's what this resolution does. That's what it asks for. It's what, I think, the will of this Congress ought to be. I'm going to be asking the Speaker to allow this to come forward to the floor.
Right before I close, Mr. Speaker, I would yield to the gentleman from Nebraska so much time as he may consume of which I don't think there's a lot.
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