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Public Statements

Failed Policies of Previous Administration

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Ms. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ. Thank you so much. And my colleague from Michigan, Mark Schauer, who's been holding down the fort here and who cares so passionately and so deeply about his district, about the people that he represents in Michigan, you have fought so hard to make sure that they have a voice because Americans are struggling, and you know that Americans are struggling. You're in the midst of an economic crisis in Michigan, as we all have been coming out of, and you're absolutely right when you talk about the fact that we have a choice.

I mean, Americans in November are going to have a choice. We can go back to the agenda of the Republicans, which now is right there in blue and white, and where they clearly have said, making no bones about it, that they would take us back to the exact same agenda that they pursued before, which included focusing on tax cuts exclusively for the wealthiest Americans, not caring in the least about working families or the middle class or having an agenda that did anything for anyone in a working family or the middle class, focusing on making sure that we could only spend time worrying about the well-being of major corporations and leaving working families to twist in the wind. Or we can choose to continue to move in the new direction the Democrats have taken the country under President Obama's leadership, under the leadership of the Democrats here in the House and the Senate when we took the majority back in 2006 and ended the culture of corruption that literally hung over this capital under Republican leadership. We ended the focus exclusively on the wealthy and focused on trying to turn things around.

President Obama on his first day in office inherited an economy where we were bleeding 700,000-plus jobs a month. And I'm not sure if Mr. Schauer talked about this, but we have now fast-forwarded a year and a half later and the economy is adding about 100,000 to 125,000 jobs a month.

And if you look at manufacturing--and I know that's a particularly important area for Michigan. American workers are so proud and have always been so proud of the fact that we in America make things. We are the ones that make sure that machines run, that the manufacturing that is the proud tradition of the United States of America should continue. We have had 11 straight months of growth in the manufacturing sector under President Obama's leadership, under the policies, the economic decisionmaking that we've made since he took office, and that's incredibly important for Americans to understand. Because even though we have a long way to go, we've begun to turn the corner. We've begun to turn things around, and we need to continue to push hard to make sure that we can invest in infrastructure and balance those investments with tax cuts targeted to middle class and working families.

Last year, in the Recovery Act, the economic stimulus that has been talked about so much in the last year, we invested $787 billion to make sure that we could create those jobs and invest in shovel-ready projects that were ready to go so that we could get people back to work who literally were left twisting in the wind after the Bush administration drove us into a ditch. And now you have the same people, the same people who drove us into the ditch in the first place are asking to get the keys back so that they can return to the exact same agenda that they pursued during the time that they were in charge. Why Americans would give them back the keys when they got us into this mess in the first place is beyond me, but that is what they are aggressively pursuing, nonetheless.

This morning, a number of us on the House floor had an opportunity to talk about the approach of Social Security's birthday. We're approaching the 75th anniversary of Social Security, 75 years of making sure that Social Security provides the safety nets to Americans who are in their retirement years, making sure that they have something to fall back on, and making sure that they have the ability to make ends meet each and every day.

And as Mr. Schauer so rightfully put it, under the exact same agenda that the Republicans pursued then, we would return to an effort--and they readily admit this, that we would return to their effort, which was first proposed by President Bush, to privatize Social Security.

What privatizing Social Security means is allowing people to invest their Social Security in the stock market. Now, if you watched the volatility of the stock market over the last number of years, I shudder to think about how the seniors in my district, my seniors in south Florida, I shudder to think how they would be able to make ends meet over the last few years if their Social Security investments evaporated into oblivion after the stock market downturn. We had stock market downturn, then it went back up, then it went back down again. The stock market is not the place for funds that are there and designed to be a safety net. In my home State, 53 percent of seniors without Social Security would be living in poverty, and that's just simply unacceptable. If that's the agenda that the Republicans want to take us back to, then Americans need to know that that's the direction that they would go.

I want to focus on some other comments because we should make sure that people know exactly what's being said on the other side so that when they make a decision on which direction they want to go, when they make a decision on which candidate for Congress, which Members they choose to have represent them, they should know what some of the Republican leadership on the other side has been saying.

If you recall, we had a lot of commentary on the other side about the stimulus, about the economic Recovery Act; and I remember that Mr. Cantor, their Republican whip, I remember he actually has consistently said that the stimulus has not produced jobs. Now, I'm not sure what planet he's been living on, but one thing that has been very clear is that the economic Recovery Act, the stimulus bill, created millions of jobs. We wouldn't have been able to go from bleeding 700,000-plus jobs a month to adding about 100,000 private sector jobs a month without the investment that was made under the Democratic leadership.

Now, in spite of the fact that Mr. Cantor has consistently said that the stimulus produced no jobs, that didn't prevent him from hosting a job fair with companies that received $52 million in his community to create jobs from the stimulus. He actually held a job fair at a Virginia high school with a number of private companies that were seeking to hire and who benefited from the funds in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. So he's not the only one that has essentially tried to have it both ways, be opposed to the stimulus, vote against the stimulus, stated it didn't do anything, but then take credit in their community when the checks are being handed out and the celebrations were being had for the jobs that are created in the district by the economic Recovery Act.

And, I mean, I don't want to directly call any of our colleagues hypocritical, but that type of action seems pretty hypocritical to me Mr. Tonko, and I'm really pleased that we're joined this evening by my good friend Mr. Tonko from New York who's joined us every week, week after week, to make sure that we can help America understand and talk to the American people about how this economy has turned around and how we have been able to create jobs, balance investments with tax cutting policy, and I would be happy to yield to the gentleman for his comments.


Ms. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ. Thank you so much, Mr. Tonko, and I just wanted to add a couple of things and then I know Mr. Schauer will close us out.

But one of the things that I think is important to note that we also have done--because deficits are really an issue and deficit spending is an issue--we, when we took the majority back, reestablished the PAYGO rules and then enshrined them in statute in this Congress to make sure that legislation that we pass is paid for, that we don't, like most families have to do, like every family I know, can't spend more than they take in.

The Republicans let those rules which were originally adopted under the Clinton administration and resulted in the record surpluses that President Bush inherited, they let those rules lapse. Well, we reestablished them because when they let those rules lapse, that's when we ended up in a huge deficit situation.

Because of that, we are able to, with the budget that we have adopted, cut the deficit in half over the next number of years and focus on deficit reduction while also making sure that we balance that with investments so that we can get our economy back on track.

That's the difference between us and them, and I hate to say it like that, but, really, there hasn't been a more stark contrast in the choice that Americans have to make in this election, and I look forward to spending some more time on the floor talking with my colleagues about it.


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