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We Need a Bold Vision for the Economy

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. DeFAZIO. We have the economy the tax cuts will give us. Eight years of Bush tax cuts, 2 years of Bush-Obama tax cuts, and now the individual Obama tax cut proposals. We have $5 trillion borrowed, distributed generally with the Bush tax cuts, principally to the job creators, as the Republicans call them--millionaires and billionaires--and in little bits to working Americans. It's not working. So why would we do more of the same?

Apparently, the President tonight is going to propose again to extend the Social Security tax holiday. Two things wrong with that, maybe three. One, it's not putting anybody back to work. Two, we borrowed $110 billion this year to put into the Social Security trust fund because we cut the income of Social Security by $110 billion. And now we're being told perhaps we should double down. Let's give both the employers and the employees a little bit of a Social Security tax holiday.

That's $20 a week to someone who earns $50,000 a year. Not bad. They can use it. It's probably about the difference they pay for filling up their car to get to work. But ExxonMobil isn't hiring. Or maybe they use it to put food on the table for the kids or maybe buy junk from China. It's an old economic theory: Put money in the pockets of Americans and the idle plant capacity in America will rev up and hire Americans to make things in America. We don't make things any more because of failed trade policies. Apparently, failed trade policies are going to be part of this jobs proposal.

Three more Bush free trade proposals now adopted by Obama. That would be a disaster if that's a part of this so-called package. It would be a travesty.

Let's forget about the tax cuts. Let's not just have a little dribble or drab of infrastructure investment. People say, Oh, the stimulus failed. What happened? All your infrastructure investment, 40 percent of that stimulus was tax cuts; 7 percent was investment in infrastructure. Yes, it worked, but it was a pathetically small part of the package in a country that has a $3 trillion infrastructure deficit, with dams that are failing, levees that are failing, highways that are crumbling, bridges that are falling, transit systems that are based in 19th- and early 20th-century technology; and our competitors are building out a 21st-century infrastructure.

We need a bold vision. We don't need another little dribble or drab in infrastructure. We sure as heck don't need another one of these stupid shovel-ready project things. We need long-term investment. When you do long-term investment, the private companies who build all these projects--these aren't government projects. Taxpayers fund them. The private sector builds them. Many small businesses, they will go out and buy equipment. When they buy equipment, especially if we put Buy America requirements on all these proposals, they'll buy things that will be made in America that will put people back to work in manufacturing.

So this isn't just about construction jobs. It's about manufacturing jobs, it's about engineering jobs, it's about small business jobs. But it needs to be a major, bold, long-term vision on building a 21st-century infrastructure for America to make us more competitive in the world.

Enough with the tax cuts. They don't work. They don't put people back to work. Guess what? If you don't have a job, you don't get a tax cut, do you? Let's do something for the people who need jobs and for the future of the country and for our kids with a grand long-term vision tonight, not more of the same.

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