JOBS, ECONOMY, AND TAXES -- (House of Representatives - March 09, 2004)
The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under a previous order of the House, the gentleman from Oklahoma (Mr. Cole) is recognized for 5 minutes.
Mr. COLE. Mr. Speaker, it has been said by some that the American economy is in chaos and decline. I come to the floor today to counter such nonsense with the facts. After the shocks of the recession and the tragedy of 9/11, the economy has experienced 60 consecutive months of job growth and during that time has added a total of 364,000 new jobs to the economy. In point of fact, the unemployment rate is currently lower, lower than the average unemployment rate during the 1970s, the 1980s and even the 1990s.
Since 2001, the U.S. economy has grown more than twice as fast as the economies of Europe and Japan. Our economy is in better shape and growing faster than any member of the G-7 group of industrialized nations. America is the largest exporter in the world and the main source of economic growth in the world. Productivity growing at 4.1 percent annually over the last 3 years is at an historic high. The economy is expected to grow faster from 2003 to 2004 than any other year in the last 20.
Mr. Speaker, the number of Americans working today stands at 138.3 million, the highest number in the history of this Nation, higher even than the number of Americans who were working in January of 2001. And most Americans are prospering like they never have before, with family net worth hitting a record high of $44.4 trillion. This is in part because the home ownership rate stands at 68.5 percent also an historic high.
I cite these figures not because I believe there is nothing that can or should be done to further promote economic growth and job creation, but instead, to provide some perspective on how the media and the other side of the aisle are misrepresenting and misportraying the facts concerning the state of our economy.
Mr. Speaker, the truth is most Americans are not fond of the pointless debate over when the recent recession began or who was responsible for it. This debate does nothing to lower the unemployment rate. It is an exercise in political histrionics.
We are now experiencing economic recovery and that is something most Americans do care about. What matters to them is how to maintain and sustain and expand that recovery. To sustain this recovery, I believe we need to simplify the Tax Code. We need to reduce the burden of frivolous lawsuits on our economy. We need to pass an energy bill to ensure an affordable and reliable energy supply. We need to streamline regulations and paperwork requirements on small businesses that are the driving force for job creation in this country. And we need to reduce the deficit.
Mr. Speaker, Congress is beginning the effort to tackle the budget deficit, which I believe has been primarily caused by out-of-control spending and should be solved by controlling the growth in spending. We could balance the Federal budget within 5 years if we held increases in Federal spending to 2 percent a year. Inside the Beltway I know, to some that is an unthinkable sacrifice, but how many families, how many businesses had to limit their spending by similar amounts during the last few years? What we must not do is pass legislation that would make this economic recovery come to an abrupt halt.
We should not take the easy way out of our budget problem by raising taxes. The tax cuts for families and small businesses created this economic recovery and raising taxes would put the breaks on this economic recovery.