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Invest in the Future of Our Nation

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

The SPEAKER pro tempore. The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Oregon (Mr. DeFazio) for 5 minutes.

Mr. DeFAZIO. We've seen some pretty miserable employment numbers recently, but the real unemployment rate is actually about twice what you read in the paper. It's closer to 18 percent, with discouraged workers and people who are underemployed.

Now, can we look to Washington for solutions? On the Republican side of the aisle, the answer is simple: more tax cuts. That will put people back to work. Let's see, for 10 years now, we've been living under the Bush tax cuts; and we've had the worst job creation for the last decade since World War II.

Now, it doesn't seem to be working too well, but it is all based on the theory of trickle-down. But I think at this point, the American people have been trickled on so much, particularly those who are unemployed and looking for work, that they'd like an umbrella and they'd like a little shelter from these nonsensical policies.

Can we look to the White House? Well, unfortunately, things aren't a lot better down at the White House. They went along with the Republicans on quite a bit of these tax cuts. Forty percent of the so-called stimulus was tax cuts. Seven percent--one-sixth of that--was invested in infrastructure. And guess what, that investment at one-sixth the cost of the tax cuts put a heck of a lot more people to work, investment in building things and in the future of our country, as opposed to debt-driven consumption-driven tax cuts.

Last December, the President caved, went along with extending the Bush tax cuts, and we've still got miserable job creation. Oh, wow, that's a surprise. Now they've floated a balloon. The White House has a great new idea. Let's continue the Social Security tax holiday. That was added to the Bush tax cuts in December. That's created a lot of jobs. Sure, working families can use an extra $15 a week. But what about the 20 million people who are unemployed? They don't get any of that. And how much of that $15 a week, how many jobs does that create? But the White House thinks we should extend that, and maybe we should give it on the employer side too.

So here's the way it will work: we don't have the money. We're going to cut the Social Security tax again. We have to make the trust fund whole. So we'll borrow $200 billion from China that we'll put into the Social Security trust fund, and that's going to put America back to work. What a great idea. Wait a minute, how about we take that $200 billion the White House wants to borrow to extend the Social Security tax holiday and we invest it into real things, the Nation's crumbling infrastructure?

We have 20 percent unemployment in the construction industry, and it isn't just construction workers who go to work when we rebuild our infrastructure. We have Buy America requirements. They're all American jobs, and everything that goes into every job is made in America. If it's a transit system, you've got engineers; you've got software; you've got high-tech manufacturing. If it's a bridge, you've got steel; you've got concrete; you've got engineering design; you've got construction workers. If it's a highway, the same thing.

Take that money, take that $200 billion they want to borrow and give a Social Security tax holiday. Instead, invest it in the future of this country and things that will serve our country for 100 years, make us more productive, more efficient, and you can look your grandkids in the eye 15, 20, 30 years from today and say, Yes, that's right, we borrowed that money; and you are still paying the bill.

If you give it for a Social Security tax holiday, he is going to say, Granddad, what did you spend that $17 on that week? Because I am paying the bill. But how about if Granddad can say, We built that bridge; we built that transit system; we rebuilt our national transportation system. We put millions to work and, guess what, that system will serve you for another 100 years.

That's an investment versus consumption. Everybody around here is just into consumption. We need to invest in the future of our country.

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