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Republican Agenda Lacks Common Sense

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

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

Mr. DeFAZIO. I appreciate the fact that the gentleman who preceded me in the well talked about unemployment and creating jobs. I may not have agreed with his particular nostrums, but at least that's one Republican who's talking about creating jobs.

Unfortunately, the Republican majority, in the last 6 months of leadership in the House, has brought forward no bills to put Americans back to work except they say do more of the same. What? Yes, more of the same.

The last decade, George Bush dramatically cut taxes--twice--decreased regulations under the theory that that would create jobs. Unfortunately, the facts are in. We had the worst job creation post World War II in the last decade under George Bush and doubled the deficit and debt while doing it. It didn't create jobs. Trickle down economics doesn't work. It didn't work in the Reagan era. It didn't work then. Compare that to the Clinton era. We raised taxes, yes, particularly on rich people and big corporations. We actually balanced the budget, we paid down debt, we had 3.8 percent unemployment, and real incomes went up for the middle class. I'd love to go back to those ``bad old days,'' but no, it's the Bush policies that will work, we've just got to do more of them. Reduce spending even more.

Government can't do anything to create jobs, they say. Well, what about investing in the Nation's infrastructure? Who built the national highway system? Who built the bridges? Who built the transit systems in this country? Who helped build the rail systems? Who has maintained our ports and waterways? The Federal Government--sometimes in partnership with States or local government or the private sector. But those investments pay off.

And what do the Republicans want to do? In the face of 150,000 bridges on the national highway system that are about to--or in the not-too-distant future--have the same fate as the bridge in Minneapolis, Minnesota that is collapsed, they need either total replacement or repair 150,000 bridges; 40 percent of the pavement on the national highway system; $60 billion backlog on our transit systems.

They want to cut Federal investment in transit. And they say if we give that money to rich people and to the corporations--who are sitting on $2 trillion worth of cash--they'll take care of the problem. Oh, really? What are you going to do, toll 150,000 bridges across the country in order to induce the private sector to come in and rebuild them? Are you going to toll the existing interstate in order to bring it up to a decent system of good repair?

And transit systems, they all lose money. Now some on the Republican side say, well, we should just do away with transit systems, we don't need those things. Come on, let's have a little bit of common sense here. You want to talk about saving fuel? Invest in transit. You want to talk about creating jobs? Invest in infrastructure. We have the strongest Buy American requirements in transportation and infrastructure as any program of the Federal Government. We create more jobs per billion dollars than anything else. Way more than the Defense Department--where they want to shower all their funds--can be created in transportation. You can put Americans to work; not only construction workers who have horrible unemployment, not only steel workers for the bridges, not only people who maintain these systems, but engineers, software engineers, people who make tires, people who make rail cars, people who make streetcars.

We are making street cars in America for the first time in 70 years in Oregon due to one of those horrible earmarks they want to ban. We were buying them overseas. Now we are making them in America. Is that bad? They seem to think it is, and they want to decrease investment in these sorts of things that are proven job generators.

Now, I have to give the Obama administration a big fat D-minus on this same issue. The so-called stimulus, which they rightly criticize, which I voted against, $800 million, 40 percent of it was Bush tax cuts, which didn't work for Bush and didn't work for Obama. Now all the Obama administration is talking about is more tax cuts. Extending the payroll tax holiday on Social Security, that will put America back to work.

Give me a break. These things haven't worked. We need real investment. If you borrow money to build a bridge that lasts 100 years, at least you can look your kids and grandkids straight in the eye when they say, what did you do with all that money, because I am still paying the bills 30 years from now. And you can say, we built that bridge you drove over to go to work. We rebuilt that transit system that you took to work today. We made America more competitive in the international economy with those investments.

You have got to start distinguishing between investments and wasteful spending. If you want to talk about cut-and-spend, then let's talk about it.

Subsidies to people to not grow things, $5 billion a year; another $15 billion a year in agriculture subsidies to grow surplus crops? Don't want to touch that one. Tax loopholes, giveaways to the oil companies, let's cut that. No, we can't cut the tax subsidies to the oil companies.

You know, common guys, let's get real here. Let's invest in America, in the American people, and put people back to work. We need a real program, and you people have offered us nothing.

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