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Public Statements

American Jobs and the National Debt

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. WOMACK. I thank the gentleman from Arkansas. I appreciate his leadership and his friendship and his service to our great State, the great State of Arkansas.

I am thrilled that we're having the conversation that we're having here, late in the day, regarding these types of issues that in my strongest opinion are impacting our ability to create jobs; and that's the prize that we all keep our eye on here in these Chambers is what can we do to strengthen our capacity to put people back to work, because I think at the end of the day that's exactly what people elected us to do last November is to come up here and change this climate, change this culture and put the entrepreneur back in charge, because that's where job creation comes from.

A couple of points before I go to some notes that I brought specifically for this afternoon's presentation, and that is that this cloud of uncertainty that continues to hover over the economy of the United States of America is influenced by a number of things, but let me just take two or three of them.

The threat of higher taxes, and not just the threat of higher taxes but the relationship of the threat of higher taxes to the issues of the deficit and the debt. I made these comments not too long ago on this very floor, that in private business, in business in general, your debt is usually tied to your assets, the assets of the company. Most businesspeople get that. But in government, your debt is tied to your capacity to increase taxes. So this debt and deficit issue that we continue to struggle with as a country and the prospect of that debt continuing to rise--and not too long from now we're going to have a vote on increasing the statutory limit on debt--influences, I think contributes to, this cloud of uncertainty that leads a prospective entrepreneur, a prospective job creator, to not do what that person would like to do, even with trillions of dollars sitting on the balance sheets of corporate America, the hesitancy to create these jobs influenced by the threat of higher taxes.

And then I think also, fundamental to this cloud of uncertainty, as I call it, continuous overregulation by this government, that the prospective job creator cannot compute the input costs associated with more government regulation. Notice I haven't even mentioned the impact of the health care law, ObamaCare, as we call it. It's hard to compute the input costs of this health care law. And then more recently, the threat of higher energy prices and a flawed, if not almost nonexistent, energy policy of this administration.

Just think about it. You're a prospective job creator, you've got an idea, you're a creative person, you want to live the American Dream, but standing in your way between your dream and your capacity to do something creatively and resourcefully, to put people to work, to contribute to society, are things like higher taxes, more government regulation and red tape, the impact of when I hire these people, the impact of ObamaCare, and then on top of all of that, the price at the pump and higher energy prices. I just don't see why the other side cannot understand why we're not creating jobs, why we continue to hover at the 9 percent level on unemployment.

Just a couple of weeks ago, we passed on this floor a budget for 2012, and in that budget immediately, before the ink was dry, we were being criticized because of what we were trying to do and what I believe is the reasonable approach to solving our Nation's fiscal problems, and that is finally delving into something that nobody ever wanted to touch, and that's the entitlement programs, the mandatory spending side of the house, where most of the money is.

I just want to make a couple of these comments as it concerns Medicare, because I heard back from my constituents. A tele-town hall meeting the other night, the first phone call I got from Bella Vista, Arkansas, was a gentleman worried because he had heard that we were attempting to take his Medicare away. In 1965 when that program was created, baby boomers were teenagers, and now 10,000 baby boomers a day enter qualification for Medicare. When Medicare was created in 1965, the life expectancy of a human being was around 70, a little younger. Today it's close to 80 years of age. Medicare spending is growing at an unsustainable rate of 7.2 percent every year. Seniors are already facing access issues.

Think about this. Under the current system, one in three primary doctors are limiting Medicare patients. One in eight are forced to deny Medicare patients altogether. If the Medicare program is allowed to continue without any change at all, the Congressional Budget Office projects it goes bankrupt in 9 years. Basically, if we allow Medicare to maintain the status quo, Medicare collapses.

So we're leading. Our conference is leading. We're taking mandatory spending and entitlement programs and we're deciding that we're going to throw our cards down on the table. We're going to do something about it.

The plan that we voted to approve just a couple of weeks ago preserves, protects Medicare for those 55 and over, not just those drawing Medicare but those nearing retirement, people that have planned their lives around that program. We don't change that for those people. That needs to be said. It needs to be repeated over and over again. But again we get demagogued about it because, at the surface level, it sounds like we're trying to just take it away. Let me repeat again. Those 55 and older, not affected by the proposed reforms that we support.

Starting in 2022, new Medicare beneficiaries would be enrolled in the same kind of health care program that I have, that my colleague from Arkansas has, and my other colleagues who have spoken here tonight. Future Medicare recipients would be able to choose from a list of guaranteed coverage options and they'd be given the ability to choose a plan that works best for them. It's not a voucher system. It's premium support. No money changes hands between the government and the individual. It's modeled after what Members of Congress and Federal employees already have.

The reforms are designed to decrease the fraud within the system and requires congressional oversight by requiring transparent pricing and minimum benefit and quality standards and instituting more competitive forces. My friends, that's what the free enterprise system is about, and I believe if it has worked for 235 years of this great country, it should be also the way forward.

Let me finish by saying this. Like my colleague from Arkansas, he and I came in as freshmen together on January 5 in these hallowed Chambers. We didn't come here to do nothing. We didn't come here to kick the old can down the road, to ignore the facts. We came here to act with dispatch and
make a difference for our country. That's why I'm pleased to join my colleagues here of our great freshman class in providing this information to the American public. It's not only what we were elected to do; it is our moral duty to do it and to do it as soon as we can and to do it with the sense of purpose that I think defines the 112th Congress.


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