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Public Statements

Presidential Leadership

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. KERRY. Mr. President, China is racing ahead with respect to these kinds of investments. The fact is, they are sending their students to the United States for degrees in math, science, and engineering, but the House is cutting Pell grants so there is a 15-percent cut below the maximum level, which would affect over 100,000 students in college, making it less affordable, less accessible for low- and moderate-income students. That is not a budget that helps our economy. It does nothing with dealing with the deficit and jobs.

They tie the hands of the Consumer Product Safety Commission so they cannot launch a database for consumer products. If you are an average American, you do not need to know if the products you buy are safe or will harm you. That does not matter anymore, even though it has nothing to do with dealing with the budget problem.

They reduce Federal funds from being spent for Planned Parenthood, for doctors and nurses to conduct 1 million lifesaving screenings for cervical cancer and more than 830,000 breast cancer exams. I guess it is much more important that millionaires, people earning more than $1 million a year, get their tax cut than 830,000 women to have breast cancer screenings. This value system is something that I think is absolutely essential for us to examine.

The House cuts almost $2 billion from the clean water and drinking water State funds that allow us to capitalize on low-interest loans and no-interest loans so we can build and refurbish clean water systems.

All across our country, we have communities that are under court orders to clean up the water for our citizens. The House is cutting the ability of those communities to be able to provide for that because most of them do not have the tax base to do it on their own.

The House bill prohibits the EPA--that discussion took place, and I will skip over it. It has nothing to do with deficit reduction. It just prohibits the EPA from enforcing clean air laws, after the American people decided in 1970 they wanted clean air, and people's lives have been improved because we have provided it. We are going to go backward there.

I mentioned the ARPA-E cuts. The House bill cuts $780 million below the current level for energy efficiency and renewable energy, which is going to cut critical programs that advance our job base.

I met yesterday with the CEO of a major solar company. They are going to create a huge number of jobs in the Southwest of our country. The largest facilities are going to be in Arizona and California. But by cutting the loan guarantee program, we are going to lose 1,200 jobs just on the California project, and that does not include the $ 1/2 billion of equipment from U.S. suppliers in nine States, including Arizona, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Colorado, and Kansas. That is a loss of jobs in every single one of those States.

The House bill reduces funding for the National Institutes of Standards and Technology, which is going to reduce research and hurt job creation. It slashes funding for the National Science Foundation by more than $300 million. That is 1,800 fewer research and education grants.

The House bill provides $787 million below the current level for energy efficiency and renewable energy. It would significantly delay needed investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy R&D, demonstration and deployment programs critical to the transition to a clean energy economy.

The U.S. stands to be the world leader in concentrated solar with the addition of these two projects, but this title is in jeopardy thanks to more irresponsible and irrational cuts in H.R. 1.The proposed elimination of the DOE loan guarantee program for clean energy cost jobs, American competitiveness, nd immediate economic benefits. For example, yesterday I met with Abengoa Solar, a company trying to help the U.S. become the world leader in concentrated solar with two of the largest facilities in Arizona and California. But by cutting the loan guarantee program we stand to lose 1,200 jobs from just the California project. In addition this doesn't include the $ 1/2 billion of equipment from U.S. suppliers in nine States across the U.S. including Arizona, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Colorado, and Kansas.

The House bill slashes $1.3 billion from the National Institutes of Health, NIH, which would force NIH to reduce support for more than 25,000 existing research grants and scale back clinical trials and research projects. These drastic cuts will devastate biomedical research; cures will be delayed, jobs will be eliminated, and American leadership and innovation will be jeopardized. NIH is the primary Federal agency responsible for conducting and supporting medical research, most of which is done at medical schools, hospitals, universities and research institutes distributed in every State in the country. NIH-funded research drives scientific innovation and develops new and better diagnostics, prevention strategies, and more effective treatments. NIH-funded research also contributes to the Nation's economic strength by creating skilled, high-paying jobs; new products and industries; and improved technologies.

They do that even as we know that continued commitment to NIH is essential for securing a strong national economy and for maintaining our leadership as the global leader in research and development. Everyone applauded when President Obama said in his 2011 State of the Union Address that ``one key to future growth in the U.S. economy will be to encourage American innovation and job creation by investing in research and development--including biomedical research at the NIH.'' And Massachusetts received more than $2.5 billion in NIH grants last year alone. But here we are gutting the NIH because we are afraid to look at the things that need to be addressed that yield real savings.

Folks, this is killing our economic competitiveness in the cradle--and in the laboratories. Investment in the NIH produces a steady stream of talented researchers who lead the way to treatments and cures for some of the world's most devastating diseases. In fact, a report by Families USA estimated NIH awards to the States results in over 351,000 jobs that pay an average annual wage of more than $52,000, and results in $50.5 billion in increased output of goods and services to the U.S. The jobs, the spinoff industries, and the local development that are sustained by NIH awards will disappear or relocate to more competitive nations--such as China or India--without continued and stable funding for the NIH.

The House bill reduces funding for the National Institute of Standards and Technology by $223 million which will reduce research and hurt job creation. The House bill slashes funding for the National Science Foundation by more than $300 million below current levels meaning 1,800 fewer research and education grants.

Earlier this month, 300 of America's leading economists, including Alan Blinder and Laura Tyson, sent an open letter to President Obama and Members of Congress concerning these cuts, and they said it is shortsighted to make cuts that eliminate necessary investments in our human capital, our infrastructure, and the next generation of scientific and technological advances. They said: Republican-planned cuts threaten our economy's long-term economic competitiveness and the strength of our current economic recovery. The letter goes on to say that we need to look and sustain the critical investments in the productive capacity of the United States.

Mr. President, you are a farmer, and there ain't a farmer in the country who doesn't know you don't eat your seed corn. But that is what we are doing here. We are eating our seed corn. We are stripping away America's already challenged ability to compete against a China, India, Brazil, Mexico, South Korea, and countless countries that are indicating far more seriousness than we are about their desire to build out and build a future.

We have a train that runs from Washington to New York called the Acela. It can go 150 miles an hour. But it only goes 150 miles an hour for 18 miles of that trip between here and New York. Why? Because if it goes too fast into the tunnel in Baltimore, the tunnel may cave in; because if it goes too fast over the bridges of the Chesapeake, they may fall down. But you can go to China and ride on a train that goes 200 miles an hour and the water in your glass doesn't even move; or 300 miles an hour in the Maglev train from Shanghai airport to downtown Shanghai. Go to Abu Dhabi, go to Dubai, go to Paris, or any major airport in Europe and you will find an airport that outshines the airports of the United States and you will find public transit systems that outshine the public transit systems of the United States. Because once again, we are living off what our parents and grandparents built because we are not willing to pay for anything, which is why revenue in the United States is at a 60-year low.

We need to be smart about where we are going here. The GDP of our country is measured by our total expenditures of consumption of the American people, it is measured by our investments, it is measured by government spending and investment, and by our exports minus our imports. That is the GDP. That is how you measure GDP. How can these folks sit here and say if you cut the government spending you are not going to cut the GDP, which is what every major economic analysis has said?

So yes, we have to cut waste; yes, we have to cut some spending; yes, we have to be responsible. But let us be responsible in a responsible way, by looking at the overall budget and the places we can reduce, at a tempo that doesn't do injury to our ability to invest in America's future, to create the jobs for the future, but nevertheless send the right message to the marketplace and to the American people.

We have done that before. We saw the longest expansion in America's history. Staring us in the face is the largest economic opportunity of a lifetime. The energy marketplace is a $6 trillion market with 6 billion potential users today, rising to about 9 billion over the next 30 years. But we are not engaged in that. Two years ago, China produced 5 percent of the world's solar panels. Today, they produce 60 percent, and the United States doesn't have one company in the top 10 companies of the world's solar panel producers. What are we doing? The biggest transformational market staring the United States in the face is the energy market, and we should be here putting an energy policy in place, an education policy in place, an infrastructure investment policy in place, and a research policy for technology and medical that soars, that takes America into the future, creates the jobs we need for the next generations, and reduces the deficit in responsible ways, not in this unbelievable reckless, meat axe, hatchet budget that is being presented to us by the House of Representatives. We need to find common ground.

The minority continues to criticize President Obama about the lack of progress in creating jobs. Last month, the economy added 192,000 jobs and the unemployment rate declined from 9 percent to 8.9 percent. This is one of the best job reports since the recession began more than 3 years ago. It shows that the economic recovery is beginning to gain momentum. However the unemployment rate is still too high and we need both small and big businesses to increase jobs if we are going to see a meaningful decrease in unemployment. The House continuing resolution will make that more difficult.

Republican economist Mark Zandi says that now is not the time to implement the cuts included in the House continuing resolution. In a recent report, Zandi said. ``The economy is adding between 100,000 and 150,000 per month--but it must add closer to 200,000 jobs per month before we can say the economy is truly expanding again. Imposing additional government spending cuts before this has happened, as House Republicans want, would be taking an unnecessary chance with the recovery.''

Zandi estimates that the cuts included in the Republican continuing resolution would lead to 700,000 fewer jobs by the end of 2012. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said last week that the Republican continuing resolution would reduce growth and cost our economy about a couple hundred thousand jobs.

Last month, a Goldman Sachs economist warned that the Republican cuts could reduce economic growth in the United States by 1.5 to 2 percentage points this year.

Additional spending cuts would also go against the thrust of our economic policies. The Federal Reserve is holding short-term interest rates close to zero and purchasing hundreds of billions of dollars in long-term Treasury bonds, in an effort to hold down long-term interest rates. The tax cut agreement we made last year is also helping to create jobs and boost our economy. It doesn't raise taxes, includes a 2 percent payroll tax holiday, extends emergency unemployment insurance benefits and allows businesses to expense their investments this year.

The American people deserve better than the approach taken by the House of Representatives that cuts critically needed research funding, eliminates jobs and reduce economic growth, hurts our competitiveness and could push our economy into a ``double dip'' recession.

There is a better way for us to resolve our budget problems. Let's go back to what worked before and can work again if we are willing to bite the bullet. In the early 1990s, our economy was faltering because deficits and debt were freezing capital. We had to send a signal to the market that we were capable of being fiscally responsible. We did just that and as result we saw the longest economic expansion in history, created more than 22 million jobs, and generated unprecedented wealth in America, with every income bracket rising. But we did it by making tough choices.

Now is the moment for America to reach for the brass energy ring--to go for the Moon here on Earth by building our new energy future--and, in doing so, create millions of steady, higher paying jobs at every level of the economy. Make no mistake: Jobs that produce energy in America are jobs that stay in America. The amount of work to be done here is just stunning. It is the work of many lifetimes. And it must begin now. This shouldn't be a partisan issue, but instead of coming together to meet the defining test of a new energy economy and our future.

There is a bipartisan consensus just waiting to lift our country and our future if Senators are willing to sit down and forge it and make it real. The President's fiscal commission made very clear that our budget cannot be balanced by cutting spending alone. The American people deserve a serious dialogue and adult conversation within the Congress about our fiscal situation, discretionary spending, entitlements, and revenues. We need to work together in a bipartisan process to develop a long-term solution to reduce both our current budget deficit and our staggering debt. And, yes, we will need to reduce Federal spending and make appropriate changes to our entitlement programs to meet the fiscal challenges facing our country. But everything everything--tax reform, spending and entitlements--needs to be on the table.

Mr. President, this is one of the moments the Senate was intended to live up to to provide leadership. To find common ground. To level with the American people and be honest with each other. We will no doubt continue to be frustrated and angry from time to time, but I believe that more often than not, we can rise to the common ground of great national purpose. A lot of us like to talk about American exceptionalism. But now we need to get beyond the permanent campaign and the ideological agenda--and instead do the exceptional things that will keep America exceptional for generations to come.

I thank the Chair, and I yield the floor.


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