Our Free Enterprise System And The Role Of Big Government


By:  Bob Goodlatte
Date: July 23, 2009
Location: Washington, DC


Mr. GOODLATTE. Well, I thank the gentleman from Tennessee, my good friend, for yielding me this time and for organizing this excellent discussion about what we need to do about America's energy policy and about creating those jobs because we know we have the ideas. We have been talking about them for well over a year now in terms of the American Energy Act and things that we have been doing to try to bring this Congress in the right direction on the creation of new jobs by creating an America that is not dependent upon foreign sources of energy.

I have had the privilege of traveling to the gentleman's district in Tennessee to talk about one of those areas. We held a conference down there, talking about renewable fuels, particularly fuels generated by switchgrass and other forms of agricultural production other than corn, which has been such a problem in our country today. That is right there, and that is something that we can do.

We all support developing other forms of new technology. We want to find a cheaper way to build solar cells. We want to find a less expensive way to generate electricity from wind or to generate power from geothermal and other new technologies. We also want to encourage as much energy efficiency as we possibly can. All of those things will help our families and help our businesses. It will help them remain competitive and preserve and create jobs.

But we also know that it is absolutely important, if America is going to create new jobs, that we have to utilize the resources that we have in this country, that we have been dependent upon for a long time. And until you have new technologies, you don't raise the cost of the types of energy that people are dependent upon.

More than half of our electricity comes from coal, a resource which we have in tremendous abundance in this country. Twenty percent of our electricity comes from nuclear power, another area that the gentleman from Tennessee and I share a very strong common interest in, he having Oak Ridge in his congressional district and I having Lynchburg, a major nuclear power center in the country, in my congressional district.

The legislation that we voted on a month ago here in the Congress did nothing to promote the most greenhouse gas-reducing form of electricity generation, nuclear power. That, to me, seemed to be something that was completely and totally neglected in that legislation.

Coal, on the other hand, wasn't neglected. It was thrown out in a way that will raise the cost of electricity to my constituents and anybody in the country from areas that are heavily dependent upon electricity generation from coal, which, by the way, is most of the country.

So that was the wrong approach. The right approach is the American Energy Act. Many of us--I think everybody who is here this evening--came back here to Washington last August when gasoline prices were $4 a gallon and oil was $140 a barrel. We took the floor in a darkened Chamber day after day after day to talk to the people who were touring the Capitol. People around the country were aware of what we were doing to tell the story of what needed to be done.

We came back into session in September, and that was completely ignored. And we never have revisited the need to have a comprehensive energy act where, if we really made this a top priority of our country, we would become free of dependence upon foreign oil and other foreign sources of energy in 15 or 20 years. And even more importantly, we would create millions of jobs, exploiting those resources that we have in this country.

This is not a new idea. This is how America came to be a strong Nation, a competitive Nation, a Nation with millions of jobs. The reminder of the importance of doing this is right there above us on the wall, above our Speaker's rostrum, above the American flag, above our Nation's motto, ``In God we trust,'' at the very top of the wall, a famous quote from Daniel Webster that says, ``Let us develop the resources of our land, call forth its powers, build up its institutions, promote all its great interests, and see whether we also, in our day and generation, may not perform something worthy to be remembered.''

That saying, more than 150 years old, is every bit as important today as it was back when Daniel Webster said it. That's what we have to hearken to; not the idea that somehow government will solve all of these problems, that government can provide people with all the health care they need, paying for it with taxes on small

businesses and losing jobs, mandating all kinds of new agencies and institutions, more than 30 to run this crazy program; not with the cap-and-tax proposal that will cost American jobs, raise the cost of living for every American, make it harder for manufacturers and farmers and others to be competitive with other countries around the world that have no intention of engaging in a practice that raises unnecessarily the cost of the basic ingredient for manufacturing and agricultural success and really enjoying a good standard of living for anyone's life, and that is having access to affordable sources of energy.

It is certainly not going to be solved by having this government spend through the roof. We saw back in January the most amazing single appropriations bill ever, the so-called stimulus package to create jobs. Now here we are 6 months later, and the question is being asked day after day after day, not just by those of us here in the Congress but by people all across America, ``Where are the jobs?''

Well, you don't get them by government spending. You get them by returning to the ingenuity of the American people, their hardworking spirit, their knowledge that it is the free enterprise system that will bring this economy back. But we delay day after day after day and dig the hole deeper and deeper and deeper when we pile up debt like this--$1 trillion. That is a stack of thousand-dollar bills 63 miles high.

And then in March we went on to pass the budget for next year. We said, ``Ooh, I'll outdo that.'' I voted against it. Mr. Wamp voted against it. Others here talking tonight voted against it. Every Member of our party voted against it, but also a lot of Members in the other party voted against a budget that has a $1.2 trillion deficit for next year. That's a stack of thousand-dollar bills 75 miles high, which reaches up into outer space, and we don't see any end to it.

The 10-year projection for the budget passed by the majority party and the President never sees it going below--the highest deficit ever before this year was $450 billion. It never gets below $600 billion ever again as far as the eye can see. That will cost jobs. That will raise the cost of living. That will raise interest rates and inflation. It is devastating to our country.

We need to return to sound fiscal responsibility. We need to return to an opportunity to have an American energy policy that creates millions of jobs here by drilling for oil offshore and on Federal lands; by extracting the huge resources we have of natural gas; by building new, safe, more modern, latest-technology nuclear power plants; by using clean-burning coal technology and advancing that and developing new technologies. All of these things coupled together will lead to a bright future. But the path we are on now worries all Americans, and we need to turn off of it as quickly as possible.

I thank the gentleman again and hope that the message that sits on our wall, let us develop the resources of our land--not Venezuela, not Nigeria, not Saudi Arabia. Let us develop the resources of our land. That will lead to the creation of the jobs that people are looking for and the restoration of our economy. I thank the gentleman.


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