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Economic Situation Facing Our Country

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

ECONOMIC SITUATION FACING OUR COUNTRY -- (House of Representatives - March 23, 2009)

The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under the Speaker's announced policy of January 6, 2009, the gentleman from Louisiana (Mr. Scalise) is recognized for 60 minutes as the designee of the minority leader.

Mr. SCALISE. Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to address the House for an hour. We're going to be talking about the economic situation facing our country and specifically the budget situation.

Just about a month ago, the President right here on this floor laid out some of the proposals for what his budget would represent, and then the next day he laid out the blueprint for that budget. And I think it caught a lot of people around the country by surprise, really caused some great concern by people, especially as it relates to this record level of funding, taxing, and borrowing

And over the last few weeks, you've heard a lot of people laying out those details, just what that spending means, just what those taxes mean in terms of the average cost to American families. The middle class families, not just rich people as was purported, but middle class families will be paying over $3,000 on an energy bill.

And then what I think really frightened the American people was the record level of borrowing that this budget represents, and with over $1.7 trillion in the first year in next year's budget that the President has submitted, over a tripling of the deficit that was, quote, unquote, inherited.

And so, as these record levels of spending and taxes and record levels of borrowing have been laid out, you've heard a chorus of echoes, not just by those of us here in this Chamber who are strongly opposed to that irresponsible spending, to that unprecedented level of taxing that will literally stifle the growth of small businesses and middle class families, but also the borrowing that affects our next generation. This isn't money that we have. This is money that would be borrowed from our children and our grandchildren, saddling them with, on estimates, of over $3,000 of debt just in the President's spending bill, that $800 billion piece of legislation called stimulus, that just in its first few weeks added more than $3,000 of national debt on to the backs of every man, woman and child in this country.

And so with that, I wanted to lay out some of the details of just what the spending means, just what these record deficits mean to the American people, to a budget process, and historically, to lay out where these deficits that the President's budget really stand in relation to history in time because these are things that have not passed yet.

And the American people all across the country, they've had these tea parties that have been sprouting up in States all throughout the Nation and literally hundreds, in some cases thousands, of people are showing up and saying enough is enough, Mr. President and Members of Congress, stop this reckless spending, stop and back away from these tax increase proposals that will stifle middle-class families and our small businesses and don't go and borrow trillions--not hundreds of billions--but trillions of dollars from our families, from our children and our grandchildren who we want to leave a better life to. We don't want to saddle them with trillions of dollars in new debt.

And some of these charts that we're going to show and talk about really illustrate what this means, what these budgets mean because these budget documents that are being debated up here in Congress, they talk about big numbers and they talk about programs. And some of these are government programs that are good, successful programs. Some of these are government programs that should have never been in place in the first place. Some of them are programs that are failing, yet will be getting more money from the Federal Government.

And where is this money coming from? And as people look and ask these tough questions, what they realize is this is money we don't have. This is money that would be borrowed in record numbers, and this chart right here shows real well, leading into this administration taking office just 2 months ago, the fact that the deficit at the end of the current fiscal year will be more than tripled by the President's proposed budget.

This budget in 2010 is the President's proposed budget, over $1.7 trillion, and in fact, on Friday, the Congressional Budget Office came out with revised numbers. And unfortunately, those revised numbers were not good for the President. They surely were not good for the taxpayers of this country. They were not good for our children and grandchildren.

My daughter, Madison, who's 2 years old, will be inheriting more of this debt, thousands of dollars in national debt. Now this deficit that was projected to be $1.7 trillion has risen to $1.9 trillion just in the last few days.

There's no end in sight. What we're saying is: Mr. President, don't go down this road. There is a better way. We need to rein in the spending that is going on here in Washington. We need to look out across the country and see what other people that are dealing with these tough economic times are doing.

Families are cutting back, Mr. Speaker. Families are cutting back to deal with these tough economic times. They're making adjustments in their household budget. They're stretching their dollars. Some people are saving and paying down debt. And at time that we're seeing families making responsible decisions and States dealing with their deficits--and yes, States are hurting too--but States are making cuts to be responsible.

It seems like here in Washington is the only place where spending is out of
control and people just think there's no end. But there is an end. As people ponder these record deficits that are shown on these charts, one of the things we're going to try to do here in this House, at least, is to let the people's voices be heard and say: Enough is enough.

We've got to stop this out-of-control spending. It hasn't happened yet. These bills have not even been filed yet. Just the outlines. This $1.7 trillion number for next year's deficit hasn't even gone through a committee process yet.

So there's still time to stop this. There's still time to stop this out of control spending. That's what we're going to be talking about tonight.

We're going to show some more charts and we're going to talk some more about the historical and future numbers. First, I'd like to yield to the gentleman from Ohio, a friend of mine who has been talking about this same issue for weeks and months as well, my friend, Mr. Jordan.


Mr. SCALISE. Again, I want to thank my friend from Ohio for pointing that out. One of the things you talked about is where all of this spending has gone just in the last few months. We've heard a lot of talk over the past few months--the last 2 months, really, that President Obama has been in office--about all of the problems that have been inherited; that were laid on his doorstep when he became President.

We've got to be very careful at paying attention to the facts and looking at in fact how we did get here today, now that we are in March. This isn't something that started before January 20 when the President took the oath of office.

We've got a chart right here that actually shows some of the spending that my friend from Ohio was talking about. When we go into this stimulus bill, as it was called, a stimulus bill that spent $787 billion in today's dollars, the Congressional Budget Office expects that with interest and debt service it will end up costing over $1.2 trillion in deficit spending--money we did not have.

This bill was a bill that President Obama himself filed--not a bill, in our opinion, that will help get the economy back on track. It was a bill that did some spending on some infrastructure issues. Less than 10 percent of that bill in fact was spending on infrastructure.

The vast majority of that bill was spending on government--growing the size of government, both Federal Government and State governments, and actually adding employees not to the private sector, which is what many of us want to see. When we talk about stimulus, we think about how we help those small businesses get that loan to go out and use their entrepreneurial spirit to create jobs in the private sector, to put people to work, to give people the opportunity for a lifelong career, not creating more jobs in government, growing the size of a government that's already too big.

In fact, that's what that stimulus bill did. It added over $1 trillion. And you see a spike in spending there. And then immediately right after that, less than a week, a bill that got little notice because it happened right after the President's spending bill, which he dubbed the stimulus bill, was this omnibus spending bill--over $400 billion, a bill that grew the size of government by 8 percent in 1 week. In 1 week.

Over $400 billion coming on the heels in February of that stimulus bill. And you see the spike that it created in spending. None of this was spending that the President inherited. This was all spending that he created on his own. In fact, we just found out--we're going to continue for months, unfortunately, finding out some of the things that were in that bill because that so-called stimulus bill was over 1,000 pages long. Again, over $1 trillion in actual spending.

That bill was filed on a Thursday night. That final bill that was voted on in the House on a Friday, it was filed at 11 p.m. on a Thursday night. Nobody on the Democratic side, even those who were actually on the conference committee, had the opportunity to read it.

And now we are starting to find out some of the things that were in that bill--not things that help stimulate our economy to get our economy back on track. In fact, just last week we found out as the country was outraged, rightfully so, finding out that executives from AIG were receiving bonuses--over $160 million in bonuses--from Federal money that they got from that financial bailout, which many of us here opposed.

But we found out that they got that money under the authority of language that was put in the President's stimulus bill. That's right. The stimulus bill that this President signed in February actually contained language that was inserted by dark of night. No one wants to take credit for it. But we know now Senator Chris Dodd, the Democrat chairman of the Banking Committee, was instructed by White House officials to put language in the President's stimulus bill protecting the ability of AIG to give out bonuses. That was in that stimulus bill.

Who knows what else is in there because we continue to find out more of the damaging repercussions from that bill. Yet, that bill gave us over $800 billion of immediate increased national debt. Over $3,000 for every man, woman, and child came from that stimulus bill in new deficit spending.

Again, another chart that displays just how high these record deficits are, because when you start talking about numbers and billions of dollars become hundreds of billions and then it becomes trillions of dollars, as we're talking now, sometimes it's hard for people to grasp numbers when you get into that range because it's just numbers that this country has never seen
before. These are unprecedented amounts of spending.

Yet, when you talk about a $400 billion deficit, which occurred in 2004 and, as can you see, there was a trend downward. Those deficits were actually decreasing under President Bush. Still, spending that many here are not comfortable with and would not have liked to see continue.

I am a cosponsor of a bill to balance the Federal budget. We should have a balanced budget in Washington. Unfortunately, we don't. But at least there was a trend downward to reduce the size of those deficits. Then, here comes the President's budget. Files it. Over $1.7 trillion in deficit spending. You see this massive spike. Largest deficit in the history of our country. That comes off the back of the President making the quote, ``We cannot simply spend as we please and defer the consequences.''

President Obama said that right here on this House floor on February 23. ``We cannot simply spend as we please and defer the consequences.'' Then, the next day he filed a bill, his budget outline, that actually adds a $1.7 trillion addition to our national debt in 1 year.

So, ultimately what people are more concerned about is the actual deeds. Not as much the words, but the actions. The actions are scaring a lot of people in terms of these record levels of spending.

With that, we've got a friend of ours from Louisiana, a new Member, somebody who has been passionate in this cause of controlling deficit spending, getting a hold of runaway spending in Washington, Dr. Fleming.


Mr. SCALISE. If I can reclaim my time. I sure don't want to discourage you. There is a Chinese proverb: May you live in interesting times. And we are definitely living in interesting times.

I think the good news is, this is the best time for people with the focus that you have got, as a new member, somebody coming here to try to rein in out-of-control spending, this is the exact time to be here because this is the time where speaking up can stop this train, this train of runaway spending, as this bill that has been proposed has not passed into law yet.

The public is starting to have the same level of discomfort that those of us here tonight have, and I think the opportunity for us to galvanize that energy that is going on all around the country as we talk about these tea parties that people are having spontaneously to protest about this record level of spending and borrowing and taxing. We have got the ability to stop this from happening, because some of this has happened, as we have pointed out, but the worst has not yet happened. But if nothing changes, then it will happen. And that is where we have an opportunity. And I know my friend from Ohio has something to add, and then we have other people to join us.


Mr. SCALISE. Again, I thank the gentleman from Ohio. And what you talked about, we definitely are going to cover in detail later on throughout this hour tonight on both the historical side, as my friend from North Louisiana talked about even going back to World War II and some of the flaws of the spending that was encountered during the New Deal leading up to World War II, but also on today's proposal, that proposal that you will be looking at in the Budget Committee.

Mr. Speaker, one of the things we want to point out on this tax proposal, because when the President talked throughout the campaign, when he talked here on the House floor just a few weeks ago, one of the things he said was 95 percent of the American people will not see their taxes raised by a dime. And while he may have been technically accurate in that statement, what many people are finding out now by the cap-and-trade, what many of us call an energy tax or a cap-and-tax proposal, those American families that are making in the bottom 95 percent, so to speak, in this country, they won't be seeing a dime increase, they will be seeing over $3,000 a year in tax increases in the form of higher energy bills, and that is this proposal that is in the President's budget, $1.4 trillion in new taxes.

Some of this falls on the people making over $250,000. Here, we are playing class warfare, something that I don't agree with because it is not good policy. But this right here, the small business and investor's tax, generates $630 billion. This is what the President talks about when he says for those people who are in the top 5 percent of income earners, people making over $250,000, will see a tax increase. What he is talking about is a $636 billion tax increase, half of which will fall on the backs of small business owners in this country. The people that actually employ more than 70 percent of the American workforce will be seeing a tax increase.

Now, anybody that can explain how that is good fiscal policy, especially during tough economic times, the floor is open for them to discuss it, because no one has yet to come and explain that. This is a horrible proposal. But on top of that, what they have also proposed is this cap-and-trade tax, and it is $640 billion. That hasn't been talked about much by the President in terms of its impact, but what this tax means, in fact the budget director for the President just 1 year ago when he was working for the Congressional Budget Office said that this would mean over $1,600 a year in new taxes that people would pay on their electricity bills.

So I guess what he means when you are not going to pay another dime, $1,300 to $1,600 a year in new energy taxes is not a dime, but it something that would break many families in this country. But it would fall on the backs of every family in this country. No family under the current proposal is exempted. So a married couple making $30,000 a year with two kids will be paying about $1,300 a year more in energy costs from the President's own budget.

This is bad policy. This is policy that we are going to fight. We are going to fight it in committee. It hopefully will not get to this House floor, but we will fight it on this floor. And one of the people that will be fighting that battle with us is our good friend from Georgia (Mr. Broun).


Mr. SCALISE. Thank you. Reclaiming my time, I appreciate what the gentleman from Georgia talked about, because that is, in fact, the reason that we are here tonight. It is not that we are willing to throw in the towel, take this and just accept this train to run down the track. What we are trying to do is talk about this problem and not just lay out the proposals that are here before us, but the implications of those proposals, to families all across this country. In fact, these proposals fly in the face of the decisions that families across this country are making themselves. As they deal with tough economic times, people are actually acting in a responsible way. They are cutting back their spending. They are setting money aside and paying down debt. But they are sure not going deeper into debt. If you have got a high credit card balance, the last thing you do is go order two more credit cards and then run up the balance on those.

That is what the President's proposal in his budget does. It, in fact, triples the current year level of deficit spending. I want to make this point again as we talk about the history revisionism that is going on as people talk about what they inherited. There was a deficit that President Obama inherited. The problem is that he is tripling that deficit in his first budget out the box. He is tripling that level of spending in a way that is irresponsible. He even acknowledges, as he is doing it, that deficit spending is irresponsible. And anybody is free to go back in time and criticize people in the past who helped create this national debt that we have. I have surely done it. Many others have done it. But when you criticize something, you don't replace the thing that you're criticizing by doing it two or three times even worse.

So, if he is going to stand with us and criticize the deficit spending, then he needs to actually stand with us and start cutting this Federal budget, not tripling, tripling the size of this debt, the national deficit that we are going to be facing next year. And so that is what we are talking about tonight is what we are going to be fighting in the coming months.

One of the people at the forefront of that fight is my friend on the Budget Committee, Mr. Jordan from Ohio.


Mr. SCALISE. I think when people look to Washington, they are looking for leadership. They are not looking for just more checks thrown around or cash thrown around to States or to people. What they want to see is policies, good sound policies to respond to the things that are happening across the country. I think people are very concerned. We are finally starting to see people speak up and not just complain at home or sit on their couch. They are literally standing up and going to these tea parties that they are having all across the country now. In fact on April 15, the day that many of us dread, the day that we pay our taxes, that is the day that many of these tea parties are going to be held throughout the country where people are in essence revolting against this record level of spending, this record level of borrowing, deficit spending and taking money that we don't have from our kids and grandkids to run up these massive deficits each year under the President's budget.

They are doing it because they know that this hasn't happened yet. They are proposals by this President. But this is a President like any, and this is a Congress like any, that needs to respond to what people are saying across this country. And so while we are speaking on this floor tonight talking about the dangers of deficit spending and record borrowing and these taxes that are being proposed, and we are trying to stop this from happening, people across the country are doing the same thing.

I think my friend here is going to chime in as well and talk about this.


Mr. SCALISE. I thank my friend from Tennessee for talking about the challenges as people look at what is happening up here in Washington and they are dealing with tough economic times back home. And this isn't something that families and States are new to. It seems like budgets are cyclical, sometimes you're up, sometimes you're down. But ultimately, you have to live within your means. And families are doing exactly that. Then they are looking at Washington and they are seeing what's happening up there when in just 2 months of a new administration where people were promised change, where a President stood here on this House floor just a few weeks ago and said, ``We cannot simply spend as we please and defer the consequences.'' And I think we all agree with those statements. But the problem is people then look, and the next day, the very next day after the President made those statements, he files a bill that spends and borrows at record levels, $1.7 trillion in borrowing and $1.4 trillion in new taxes. Many of those new taxes will fall on the backs of middle class families and small businesses.

People are saying, ``Wait a minute, that wasn't the change we were told about.'' If they made less than $250,000, they surely didn't think they were going to see a dime of new taxes. And then they see that bill, the President's cap-and-trade bill, that actually adds roughly $1,300 just in energy costs. The estimates are that it will be more than $3,000 per family--not people making over $250,000, but a middle class family or a family making maybe $20,000 a year will see roughly $3,000 when you count up your higher energy bill, your higher gas bill at the pump and when you go and pay for products that use energy, like food. Any food product you use there is energy, transportation, related to that. So people look at all of this combined and they say, ``this doesn't add up to the things that I was hearing and that I was excited about.'' And so they are speaking up.

What is important is that people are not just going to sit back and let this happen. We are not going to sit back and let this happen.

I'll yield back to my friend.


Mr. SCALISE. Reclaiming my time.

One other thing that was not brought up yet but a bill that was just filed about a week and a half ago that the President said that he supports is this bill called the Employee Free Choice Act, which has just perplexed the business community throughout this country. Small businesses are literally shaking at the thought that their employee workforce and employees across this country--we have already started hearing from employees who are very angered and disappointed that Democrats in Congress would take away their right to a secret ballot vote when it comes to deciding whether or not they want to form a union. And yet that is now part of the President's agenda, an agenda item that is estimated to cost this economy in our country over 600,000 jobs in the first year in a tough economic time when we need to be creating jobs. The bill that they are filing could actually cost, run jobs out of this country to the tune of about 600,000 a year.

I yield to my friend from Georgia.

Mr. BROUN of Georgia. You brought up a good point there. In fact I was talking to a manufacturer in my district not long ago about this so-called employers free----

Mr. SCALISE. Employees Free Choice Act, which it is not.


Mr. SCALISE. Well, reclaiming my time, one of the things that you talked about, you know, as you talk about the concern that your business people in Georgia have, I have heard the same thing from not just employers but from employees, workers in South Louisiana, who are very concerned that their ability to, their right to a secret ballot would be taken away. In fact, while it is called the Employee Free Choice Act, myself and others call it the Secret Ballot Elimination Act, because all of us in Congress, the President, even the leadership on the Democratic side, we are all elected by secret ballot. There is a secret ballot right that people have, and part of the reason for that is it protects employees from coercion and intimidation and those kind of threats that have happened throughout our history. And that is the reason that that is in place. And that a bill would be filed as part of the President's agenda that would take away somebody's right to a secret ballot, something that is at the heart of any democracy, I think, is offensive. And it shows people which road they are going down, that while we have got problems with our economy and we need to be focused on creating jobs, they see what this administration is really focused on. Taxing people's energy bills, taxing small businesses for the work that they do, that hurts their ability to go out and create more jobs to hire people in this country. And then passing legislation that would actually take away somebody's secret ballot, it is something that has gotten people's attention. They are seeing what these deficits will do to our future, our children and our grandchildren, and people are starting to speak up. And I am glad somebody else that is going to be speaking up is my friend from Texas (Mr. Gohmert).


Mr. SCALISE. Well, I thank my friend from Texas. And you know, coming from Louisiana, right after Katrina, with all of the failures of government, from the Federal Government to the State government to the local government, it was our charities, it was our faith-based organizations that were the first ones in and consistently delivered so much relief and, in fact, are still in the New Orleans area today helping people rebuild, helping families get back into homes. It is those charitable organizations that don't get anything from government in most cases. And they just do it out of the goodness of their own heart and the divine providence from the Lord. And the fact that this President's budget takes away people's ability to deduct those charitable donations, clearly threatens a lot of those organizations themselves.

And I know our time is limited. One thing we wanted to touch on as we have talked about the spending and the borrowing and the taxing, where is this money coming from?

We had actually done some research on the President's budget. And in the first 4 years, in President Obama's first 4 years in office, and I am sure that the limits on the elections will dictate if there is going to be another four, but I think as people look at this and they get more concerned, where is this money coming from? Who are we borrowing this from? This isn't money we have.

The first place the President is going in his budget is raiding the Social Security Trust Fund. And senior citizens out there who, justifiably, are dependent on that fixed income from Social Security, and future generations who want to expect something from Social Security, are very alarmed to see that in the first 4 years, the President takes over $900 billion out of the Social Security Trust Fund. And so, record levels, again, of not just borrowing, not just record levels of taxes, but record levels, never before in the history of our country have we seen nearly $1 trillion taken out of the Social Security Trust Fund in just 4 years.

And so, as we see the record levels of spending, and people can even look at this budget and they might find items in the budget, not in the baseline budget, but new levels of spending that they might like and think sound good. But then as they compare that against where this is coming from, is it worth adding to the Federal budget to take from Social Security, to take from our children and grandchildren, to tax small businesses and to tax every family on their energy bill? These are the questions that Americans are pondering. These are the questions we are fighting.

And I will finish with my friend from Georgia (Mr. Broun).


Mr. SCALISE. I thank my friend from Georgia. And that is why, we are living in challenging times, but that is why we are proposing alternatives. As we have talked about the problems of this budget, we have good alternatives we will be talking about more throughout the course of this year.

And I thank the Speaker for allowing us this time.

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