Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Mr. Speaker, it is time for a new approach to bring our country back to where it was for most of the two centuries, the land of hope and opportunity.
Unfortunately, there is a growing fear about our Nation's future among many in my congressional district, as well as throughout the Nation. The economic recession continues, according to many constituents with whom I speak every day.
My constituents tell me how they have personally felt the constant drumbeat of rising unemployment, the ballooning cost of college tuitions, the reality of postponing retirement and the continuing credit implosion that has hurt so many homeowners and small businesses. No doubt our Nation continues to struggle and people need help.
But the congressional majority and the administration have spent the last year on an agenda that grows big government, that escalates the deficit, that borrows billions from adversarial foreign governments. As a result of this unprecedented government spending spree, our national debt will reach unchartered levels, doubling over the next 5 years and tripling in just 10 years.
Not surprisingly, as our debt doubles and revenues plunge, creating jobs has taken a back seat to other issues. The $800 billion stimulus bill has failed to create or save the millions of jobs that it promised. Since it was passed, in fact, we have actually lost 3.3 million jobs while the unemployment rate remains at 10 percent nationally, and in my home State of Florida it has now reached 11 percent. The question now is can we still grow our economy, create jobs and help struggling families without further mortgaging our children's future.
First, we should agree to block any Federal tax increases until unemployment drops below 5 percent. Americans of all political persuasions can agree that the government should never raise taxes during periods of high unemployment.
Second, we need to restore confidence in America's economic future. Record deficits and debt, combined with runaway spending, have shaken our confidence in our economic future. One proposal is to freeze domestic discretionary spending at last year's level without raising taxes. Proponents state that this would save U.S. taxpayers $53 billion immediately, but, more importantly, it would send a signal that we are committed to lowering the deficit.
Third, we need to approve three promising free trade agreements with Colombia, South Korea and Panama that have stalled under this administration. Recently the President stated that increasing U.S. exports by just 1 percent would create over 250,000 jobs. Sure enough, the independent International Trade Commission estimates that these three deals would boost U.S. exports by over 1 percent.
Well, I look forward to hearing from the constituents of my congressional district in South Florida about how we can bring back economic growth and ensure that America will once again be the land of opportunity that I knew when I first came to this country almost five decades ago.
It's time to get our economy back on track.