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Cut, Cap, and Balance vs. Invest, Build, and Grow

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. JACKSON of Illinois. Cut, cap, and balance--that's the Republican economic vision. Democrats should have a different economic vision for America--invest, build, and grow.

Invest: Conservatives say the Federal budget should be like families and businesses, and I agree. But families and businesses don't balance their budgets as Republicans pretend. Families and businesses go into debt by investing rationally in their future. Families go into debt by purchasing homes and cars and sending their children to college. Businesses go into debt to grow their companies. We should invest in things that will put Americans to work in a full employment economy and make America's future bright with balanced economic growth.

Build: We need to put America back to work by building America. The New Deal did not pull us out of the Great Depression; World War II did. The government--not the private sector--the government's conduct of the war and the government's role in steering the economy won World War II and pulled us out of the Great Depression. Government did that. Government stimulated the public and the private economy. If we rationally invest a similar amount of money in our domestic economy as we did to win World War II, we can pull America out of this Great Recession just like we pulled America out of the Great Depression.

Grow: We need to grow the economy in a balanced fashion. Two large tax cuts in 2001 and 2003 to the wealthy and big corporations--the so-called ``job creators''--didn't create jobs in the private sector. Indeed, only 1 million net new jobs were created between 2001 and 2009, all government jobs. The private sector reported minus 600,000 jobs. So much for giving tax breaks to the ``private job generators.''

Some argue against all debt, but all debts aren't bad because all debts are not the same. A $50,000 gambling debt is bad because it has no return. The last decade showed that gambling on tax cuts for the rich to create jobs was bad. Gambling on two wars and not paying for them was bad. Gambling on a new prescription drug law that was unpaid for was horrible. And gambling on unregulated financial institutions that failed was bad. They resulted in a housing market collapse, slow economic growth, high unemployment, and huge deficits and debts--all bad.

So I think we've gambled enough on the theory that budget cuts and tax cuts generate private sector jobs and more taxes. The Laffer Curve is truly a laugher.

One more point, however, Mr. Speaker, where Republicans are right. We do have a spending problem. We spent too little in the economic stimulus package of 2009 and we spent it on the wrong things, one-third of which were tax cuts for the rich that conservative Republicans insisted be included, even though they still voted against it. Rather than spending to create jobs by directly investing in things we need--new schools, new hospitals, new water and sewer systems, public transportation, high speed rail, bridges, ports, airports, and more--Congress passed an economic stimulus package that kept us from falling into a Great Depression. But it was not enough to generate the growth necessary to create the number of jobs that we need. But too many in Congress drew the wrong conclusion.

It reminds me of a man whose house caught on fire, and when he tried to put it out with a garden hose, he concluded that water does not put out fires. Water does put out fires, Mr. Speaker, but you have to have enough of it to fit the size of the fire. You have to put it in the right place.

So, there you have it, Mr. Speaker, two choices for America: Cut, cap, and balance or invest, build, and grow. That's the choice before the American people. Both visions offer constitutional amendments.

Cut, cap, and balance offers a balanced budget amendment that guarantees slow growth and few jobs. But a different vision of invest, grow, and build can be enhanced with a different set of constitutional amendments--education, health care, and the environment, just to name three.

According to the Congressional Research Service, over 51 percent of all jobs in America are tied to the First Amendment--television networks, radio stations, the recording industry, wire services, Facebook, Google, iPad, movie studios, the Internet, newspapers, magazines, and more. In fact, most corporate activity in America is defined as First Amendment activity.

How many jobs would be created if we added an amendment to the Constitution that gave every American student the right to a public education of equal high quality? How many new elementary schools would have to be built? How many old schools would have to be rehabilitated and made modern?

How many teachers and counselors would have to be hired? How much wire installed for the Internet? How many computers built and purchased? How many desks built and bought? That's what H.J. Res. 29, an education amendment, would demand.

How many jobs would be created if we added an amendment that guaranteed every American the right to health care of equal high quality? how many new hospitals built? how many doctors, nurses, dentists, administrators, and technicians trained?

Mr. Speaker, a different vision of America is possible. I am not giving up on our country, and neither should we.

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