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The Republican Solution to the Debt Crisis

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. DeFAZIO. Well, here we are, after a long weekend of hyperbole and backroom deal cutting at the White House, and here's the product right here.

If you look through it, it's pretty interesting. There's no balance. There are no revenues. God forbid we would ask, as the Republicans call them, "the job creators,'' the millionaires and billionaires, to pay anything toward further supporting our country, to close some of the tax loopholes that allow hedge fund managers to pay taxes at half the rate of their clerks, you know, things like that. No, that would be a reach too far to ask them to share in the sacrifice.

What we do see here is that there will be cuts, and very few are specified. But strangely enough, there's one that the Republicans always go after because, you know, they hang out at the country club, and at the country club, nobody's worried about putting their kid through college. But the one specified cut in here is in graduate school financial assistance.

Now, that's kind of peculiar. We have a doctor shortage looming, and medical school is phenomenally expensive. But I guess it's just going to be the rich kids who are going to go to medical school in the future, not the middle-class kids, not the struggling kids. Just the rich kids. So that's the one specified cut, the "one'' specified cut. The rest, we don't even know.

Talking about a pig in a poke, this is a pig in a poke. Where's that $1 trillion of cuts going to come from? First round, second round, another $1.5 trillion, and not one penny in revenues. And the grand result is about $2.5 trillion of deficit reduction.

If we just let all the Bush tax cuts expire--all of them--if we went back to the bad old days of the Clinton tax rates that the Republicans claimed would destroy the economy--except actually what happened was, we had 3.8 percent unemployment, and we paid down debt with the Clinton tax rates. But, yes, "the job creators'' had to pay a little bit more. Those were really bad times, the Republicans would have us believe. So we don't want to go back there. We want to stay in the current day.

We have been cutting taxes now for 11 years of Bush tax cuts, 3 years with Obama as a coconspirator on the Bush tax cuts. Where are the jobs? Well, let's just keep doing it, and maybe it will create jobs.

It's not going to create jobs. There are no jobs. There are no jobs in this package.

At the least, at the least, they could have extended the Federal Aviation Administration authority. Now, most people think, what does that mean? Well, a week ago last Friday, authority to run the Federal Aviation Administration expired. The air traffic controllers are working under emergency provisions, and they're being paid out of the trust fund, which is being drawn down. But all of the taxes went away. So we're walking away from $200 million a week--that is in taxes that would come from users of the system. Most of the airlines have raised their ticket prices to capture that money.

Four thousand Federal employees have lost their jobs or are laid off, are collecting unemployment. Republicans don't care about Federal employees; so let's put that aside.

But 90,000 private sector construction workers and small businesses are also unemployed because we have brought all the safety and security improvements across the entire system to a screeching halt because we are not collecting taxes, which the airlines are now capturing for profits. Could that be in here? That would put 94,000 people back to work. No, that's not in here. That's too much to ask.

There isn't a single job in this package. The biggest problem in America, the greatest deficit we have is in job creation. If we could get back down around 5 percent unemployment, guess what: Those people are working, they are not drawing unemployment benefits, they are not drawing food stamps because they are desperate to put food on the table and the unemployment isn't enough, and a quarter of the deficit would go away with people working.

How about transportation infrastructure? One hundred and fifty thousand bridges are crumbling, need to be replaced or rehabilitated; a $70 billion backlog in critical investment in our transit systems across the country, all made in America, manufacturing jobs, engineering jobs. No, can't do those sorts of things in this bill.

We can't make investments because the Republicans say everything government does is bad. So we can't even make investments. We can't discriminate between wasteful spending, consumptive spending, and investments that will put people back to work, as they claim government can't put people back to work.

That's funny. I wonder who built our national highway system. I don't think it was the private sector. I don't think it was the financiers on Wall Street. The billionaires and the millionaires are escaping any meaningful taxation at this point, seeing the lowest level of taxation on their incomes since, you know, forever, basically.

We can't ask them to do anything. We can't invest, we can't create jobs, and we are going to cut student financial aid for sure and a few other things.

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