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Mr. PERRIELLO. Thank you so much for bringing this group together to talk about jobs.
As the gentleman from Connecticut mentioned, we can build things, make things, and grow things better than anyone else in the world if we give the American people a chance. For too many years, the other side has had a strategy of saying if we just nickel-and-dime the middle class enough, maybe we can win a race to the bottom with China. If we just cut into our environment enough, maybe we can win a race to the bottom with China. That's been the Republican strategy. We will not win a race to the bottom with China.
Our side wants to win a race to the top with China. We can outcompete China and India as well as Europe and Japan if we unleash the innovation, entrepreneurship of the American people that comes from our small businesses, if we understand that instead of bailing out the biggest companies for their failures we start to give just a little bit of support to our small business owners, our entrepreneurs, our scientists, our innovators.
We made a down payment last year on rebuilding America's competitive advantage. We made a down payment to unleash the research and development, the technology and the innovation in our small businesses. And we also understand that to win that race to the top against China, we have to have a 21st century workforce, so we have made college a little more affordable.
But it is not just kids headed to college. We also want to invest in those who want to learn a trade or career in technical training. That can be the difference between making minimum wage and 20 bucks an hour. Sometimes in this city or on Wall Street the difference between minimum wage and 20 bucks an hour doesn't seem like a whole lot, but to people back home it is the difference between being able to support your family or not, being able to pay those bills or not.
And we have tried to go after those who are nickle and diming the working class and the middle class in this country, the utilities, the credit card companies, the health insurance companies and others that have been bankrupting our small business owners and our working class and middle-class folks.
We can still build it here. We are already seeing this in the energy sector. As many of the people here tonight have talked about, our farmers can be on the front line of that struggle for America's energy independence. Our manufacturing in our district is actually exporting to Asia on high quality efficiency technologies.
But it is not going to happen by pulling in our shell. It is not going to happen by thinking small. It is not going to happen by doubting the resolve of the American spirit, the American individual, the American entrepreneur. It is going to be doing it by giving that support.
Right now we can be doing more to rebuild this Nation's infrastructure; the infrastructure of yesterday, our sewage, our water, our roads; and of tomorrow, our broadband technology, our electric grid technology, so that we have the most efficient system. That is how we outcompete the world. We can still do this better than anyone else. We must call all of us to that best self right now to outcompete, and we are not going to do it by taking our foot off the pedal right now.
We are in tough economic times. Our American families feel it. Just this last week I did a tour of over a dozen Main Streets in my district in central and southern Virginia, talking to small business owners who spent a lifetime building up their business, their clientele, their reputation, to one day sell that business in order to be able to retire securely.
Times are tough. That is not where we live right now in terms of Main Street. But we have to start putting Main Street ahead of Wall Street, and I mean the kind of values we have on Main Street, of basic decency and accountability. That is what we need in terms of real Wall Street reform. That is what we mean in terms of transparency, like the DISCLOSE Act.
Where I come from, if you want to say something, you stand by it. You put your name by it. That is the simple rule of the DISCLOSE Act. To Wall Street, we are just saying if you don't have the money, you shouldn't be able to lend out the money. I think we need to do more to put a hard cap on these leverage restrictions. And I mean Main Street jobs, and thinking we still need those jobs for people that they can support a family with.
The people here tonight are dedicated to that working and middle-class American who has been struggling in these tough economic times, to make it a little easier to get that business started, a little easier to get through the tough times, a little easier to get that child off to college or to trade school, and a little easier to make sure that you are going to have a secure retirement.
I look forward to this month, because we are in an urgent time. This is not a time for political games by either side. This is a time where we shouldn't leave until we have launched a manufacturing strategy and an agricultural strategy for the 21st century, where we have helped to put our construction crews back to work making this country more efficient.
We can do these things, I have no doubt that we can, and I believe that we will continue to fight the people here to make sure that that happens and that we will see that economic growth and recovery back on Main Street.
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