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Ms. HERRERA BEUTLER. Thank you. I am excited to be here this evening to talk about something that our country has too few of--jobs.
In my neck of the woods in southwest Washington State just about every county, save one, has double-digit unemployment, and we have had those disappointing numbers now for many months, almost 30-plus. So we are at a place right now where families are hurting. Moms who are paying the bills at night thinking about health care payments, thinking about getting the kids to school, how much it is going to cost to fill up the gas tank, what the cost of meeting the mortgage is going to be.
These are the real challenges that middle America is facing right now, and that is why we are here. That is why we are fighting. That is why we want to rein in spending, because, as this chart actually shows, less government means lower unemployment.
Less government spending means, if you look at this, and this is from 1980 to 2010, they have almost tracked equally, our unemployment numbers and the Federal Government spending or outlays. The red line is just that, it is government spending. The blue line is unemployment rate.
It is very easy to see that when the Federal Government actually spends less and leaves that money in the pockets of that mom who is trying to make her mortgage payment, or that single dad who is attempting to get food on the table, put shoes on the kids, pay for the housing, pay for the transportation costs, it means that when we let them keep more of their hard-earned money, we actually improve the economy nationally.
And that's what we need to do. When I travel southwest Washington, over the last few months I have had the opportunity to talk with many, many individuals, businesses, families. And there's really a common theme: Let us succeed. I believe in making it in America. I believe in having things manufactured here and doing things here in America. Quit relying on these other countries to produce things. But you know what has to happen? We have to create an environment that makes it easier for people to do business here in America.
Let me give you a few names: Tom Cook, he owns Taco Bell franchises in my neck of the woods; Cliff McMillen, owner of Vancouver Pizza; Sherry Malfait, owner of Washougal Flowers. What do all these folks have in common? They're small business owners, number one. They're creating jobs in our community. Secondly, they're all facing government-initiated problems, whether it's higher gas prices because of this administration's refusal to explore for American energy here in the United States; whether it's a regulatory environment like the health care bill that the gentlelady from Alabama talked about. It's one of the number one issues I hear about from small employers. They are unsure what regulation, what shoe is going to drop next when it comes to this health care bill.
These business owners are fighting to survive; and we need to make it easier for them to survive, which is why this House passed over four solutions for gas prices. We heard from small business owners and employers across America, and we responded. We have now passed no less than four bills that allow Americans to explore for American energy using American workers here in America. Four bills. We call on the Senate to step up and pass those bills so that we can create those jobs and we can bring gas prices down so these business owners that I've talked about can compete with businesses not just in the United States but globally.
Talk about regulations? I think about Tidewater Barge, which is located on the Columbia River. The Columbia River is the fourth largest river system in the United States. It is right in my backyard. Tidewater Barge are barge operators. They move freight up and down the Columbia River. Every time I have the opportunity to talk to either those employees or the employer there, they just ask me what's going to happen next. What regulation are you going to send our way that's going to make it more difficult for us to compete.
Health care is a big issue for them. They offer a tremendous health care plan to their employees--vision, dental, you name it. I got the chance to meet with those employees last summer. One of the things that they shared with me--in fact, I had a sweet lady come to me, middle-aged, worked for the company for a while, came to me in tears because she was so afraid of the cuts to Medicare that the Obama administration was putting forward. Over $500 billion. She knew what that meant for her mother and her mother's health care. She was terrified.
So, on one hand, I have the employee saying this is impacting us individually, and then I have the owner saying, Look, this health care bill is going to cost my employees this tremendous health care plan. It's going to jeopardize it.
Why are we making it harder for these businesses to operate? We should be making it easier for them to operate, not harder. That's part of what we're doing here. We're going to hold this administration--or anybody, really; it's not a Republican or Democrat issue--we're going to hold anybody's feet to the fire. If you work in the Federal Government and you're making it harder for businesses to survive, guess what, we have our eye on you. And we're going to work to advance policies off this House floor like the American energy bills I mentioned earlier. We've also put in place and are fighting to put in place a replacement bill for the disastrous health care bill that was passed last year.
One of those things that I support and it's making it way through committee right now is purchase of health insurance across State lines. That would allow individuals who are right in one of the most costly insurance markets to purchase health insurance. You get on your computer, just like they do for auto insurance--everybody can think of the lizard or the caveman--get on your computer and choose a health care plan from any State in the Union. It has to be regulated by one of those States. Pick one that best meets your needs and your pocketbook. That will drive down costs immediately. And it's not going to grow government, and it's not going to cost taxpayers.
These are commonsense solutions that get us where we need to go. They're going to grow jobs in America, and they're going to return and empower families and individuals and business owners, not the government. It's the right solution. I invite my colleagues on the other side of the aisle to join us.
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Ms. HERRERA BEUTLER. You know, it's really interesting. There are two different philosophies competing here. One is government does it best, and the one you hear tonight is that the American people do it best.
This last week in the Small Business Committee, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner was there defending how slowly they have moved to make credit available to small business. When I think about small business owners--Steak Burger in Vancouver, you can get a great steak burger there, steak sandwich--you know, these are small businesses that are hiring young people, high schoolers, kids in college. And as they are trying to keep some of these part-time, minimum-wage kids in jobs, right, it's making it harder for them when the Treasury Secretary believes that raising taxes is how we meet the spending binge here. It's just ridiculous. It's two fundamentally different beliefs.
We here on the House floor tonight believe that Americans can grow jobs and manage their own money much better than the Treasury Secretary or than Washington, D.C. It's just plain simple.
So, thank you.
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