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Public Statements

Getting Back on Road to Prosperity

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. GOHMERT. Mr. Speaker, it's a privilege to be speaking on the floor here this evening.

Here we've been talking for some time about the huge deficit spending that's going on. In fact, Republicans have promised to make massive cuts. And the old story that used to be told about the fellow Texan, Sam Rayburn, about a young freshman Democrat coming up and talking about how difficult things were here in the House and that: Gee, as a Democrat, it's obvious the Republicans are our enemy. They're trying to stop us from doing what we need to, and, boy, the media's not helping. And Speaker Rayburn stopped him, reportedly, and said: Son, the Republicans are not your enemy. The media is not your enemy. At the other end of the hall, the Senate, now they're your enemy.

Well, I thought that was a strange story when I heard that about Speaker Rayburn, but the longer I've been here, the more we see so many great bills that have come out of the House in the last year have gone down the hall and are languishing for lack of action. And so when I read that a friend down the hall, Leader Reid, was lambasting Republicans for a do-nothing status, it was remarkable to me that they could have so many House bills sitting down there waiting to do something and yet doing nothing with them.

Now, we have been trying to get bills passed into law that would make substantial cuts. It's still, as our friend from east Texas, Bo Pilgrim, used to say, a mind-boggling thing to have seen this President come in in 2009, with Speaker Pelosi in charge of the House and Leader Reid in charge of the Senate, and to know that we had been just vilified as majority Republicans in the House in 2006 for exceeding the amount of income coming in by $160 billion, vilified, and yet when President Obama became the President and Leader Reid and Speaker Pelosi were in charge, we ran a deficit of 10 times that much in 1 year. Incredible.

Now one thing that should not have ever happened is to have our national security out on the table as a bargaining chip in the debt ceiling negotiation. But it was. And we were told that, Gee, neither side is going to allow those kinds of cuts to occur to our national security.

And lo and behold, being in Afghanistan, seeing the new year come in with our military men and women in some remote operating areas--I went with Senator Jim Inhofe from Oklahoma and Joe Barton from Texas--and being in remote areas, it was amazing to hear some folks say, We're already being told amounts that we're going to be cut because of the sequestration coming. Talking with some of our Texas National Guard folks, I've been told over the last couple of weeks, We're already being told about moneys that are being cut. These are people that are
trying to protect and defend our country.

I went to the deployment ceremony of a unit leaving from Lufkin, Texas, being deployed as guard. And they're hearing, as they're being deployed, about cuts to the amount of money they will have to protect them while they're protecting us. Absolutely outrageous.

As we talk about doing what's best for America and as we hear from people around the world that think of the United States as ``the great Satan,'' one would think--especially if they studied history--that the last thing we would want to do is to hurt our national security, yet that is where we're going.

It seems also clear that those negotiating from the Republican side during the debt ceiling bill made an assumption that turned out to be false, that the Democrats in the Senate would never allow the sequestration of $100, $200, $300 billion from Medicare. That was a bad assumption because the same Democratic leadership in the Senate passed ObamaCare, which brought about $500 billion in cuts to Medicare. So of course they were going to be willing to allow sequestration because this time they would be able to blame Republicans for also being part of what caused the cuts. Cuts to Medicare and cuts to our national security, not a good idea. Not a good idea.

National Review Online had an article out in the last couple of days with some great information; and we have taken that information and put it in short form from the article and double checked; and apparently, these are accurate numbers. These numbers, if anybody cares to contest them, actually come from President Obama's own Office of Management and Budget.

It turns out that as this President and his administration have complained about not having money, not having the ability to make cuts, having to make draconian cuts to Medicare and to our national defense, his administration has been sitting on money, hundreds of billions of dollars of money that they haven't spent from 2010 and 2011. They're complaining about not being able to even cut $5 billion or $10 billion when it turns out they're sitting on hundreds of billions of dollars that have not been obligated, have not been spent from 2010 and 2011.

So let's take a look at the money that this administration has not been willing to cut, even though it's unobligated, it's unspent, it's been appropriated, they have the ability to spend it or save it or spend it for something else. And yet this administration just can't seem to want to cut loose from this money to reduce the deficit, to cut down on the money we borrow from China, to cut down on the deficit spending or the reduction in spending for the military, reduction in spending for Medicare. How about that? It turns out they're sitting on all this money.

The Department of the Treasury, under the direction of Secretary Tim Geithner--hopefully he will be okay getting his tax return in this year. He is sitting on $226 billion that was appropriated; and yet it is sitting there unobligated, unspent. Yet Timothy Geithner has told us, you know, there's just no money to do what he feels needs to be done. He was out there this summer saying, We've got to raise taxes because this poor gentleman was not going to be able to cut loose, as we find out, of the $226 billion he's got sitting in change. And that is not even including the $125 billion that he still has in TARP assets or money, and it's estimated by some to be maybe about $50 billion in additional assets. So around $170, $175 billion remaining from TARP, $226 billion sitting there appropriated. I guess that means we've already borrowed 42 cents of every dollar from the Chinese. So we're sitting on it.

Then the Department of Defense. Since we've got $78 billion that the Defense Department has unobligated--it has been appropriated but unspent--why couldn't we use some of that $78 billion to help eliminate some of the cuts that are being suggested--in fact, being demanded of Defense?

You've got the Department of Transportation with $45 billion in unobligated, unspent money from 2010 to 2011. You've got $40 billion from the Department of Health and Human Services sitting there unobligated, unspent from 2010 and 2011. Department of Housing and Urban Development, $23.8 billion sitting there. Department of Education, $19 billion.

And the thought comes, What if we did away with the Department of Education and all that money that comes pouring into Washington every year--some of it borrowed--and it gets held here in Washington and gets funded to administrators and bureaucrats that have nothing to do with actually teaching anything, how about if we just turn that right around and send it right back to those States and say, We're taking our grimy fingers off of that money; we're not going to keep any of it because we think it is that important that it go for education? And how about if we, by doing that, therefore, encourage every State--as I believe it was Newt Gingrich who suggested to then let go so many of the administrators in each State capital that are not involved in any kind of teaching, just involved in dictation to local school boards? And of course for every bureaucrat that we have to have right now in Washington, they have to have at least one in every State capital because they've got to carry out the assignments from Washington. And then for every one in the State capital, you've got to have bureaucrats at each local school district to carry out those assignments.

I was shocked to go online and see that one of the best school districts in east Texas was saying that they were proud to note that half of all their school district employees were actually teachers.

So when I went to look at that a little further, you go back to before President Jimmy Carter created the Department of Education. That number was closer to 75 percent in Texas. Now it's around 50 percent in Texas. But before there was a Federal Department of Education, about 70, 75 percent of all Texas education employees were just wonderful school teachers, like my mother, like my sister, like my wife was. Now, that's getting teachers, that's getting people in the education system where they can do some good.

So you have the Department of Education sitting on $19 billion. You go online and look up how many school districts there are in America, and divide them into $19 billion, you'd have school districts that were not having to fire teachers right now. That would do a world of good.

But we've got bureaucrats here in Washington that think it is more important that they sit there with a slush fund, $19 billion unobligated, unspent funds from 2010/2011.

You've got the Department of Labor. They've got $18 billion sitting there from 2010 and 2011. And we acknowledge it is important for them to sit on a slush fund because they have so many things they have to do, like they have to run to States like South Carolina and tell them, you can't have a new Boeing plant in your State because we're trying to help unions in Washington. Even though not one single union worker in Washington was going to lose their job or be adversely affected, we're going to rush in and be, not a referee, we're going to be a player/referee, and we're going to dictate, like used to be done by caesars, kings, czars, emperors, pharaohs.

They thought they had the authority to come into South Carolina and play Pharaoh and say, nope, you're not going to have these jobs. Well, once the unions finally got satisfied, then isn't it amazing that the NLRB backed off some. I think we've seen the NLRB is something we could do away with, and one of our colleagues in our party here in the House has a bill that will do just that. I think it's time to do that.

Department of Agriculture, $14 billion sitting unspent, unobligated from 2010/2011.

The Department of State, they don't have quite as much money sitting there as some of these other departments, but they still have $8.7 billion sitting unobligated, unspent from the last 2 years.

Department of Homeland Security, $7.2 billion. Now, they may want to use some of that to go buy some more of these machines from our friend, Secretary Chertoff. What a waste of money those were.

Then you've got the Department of the Interior at $6.7 billion sitting unspent, unobligated in their coffers.

Department of Energy. The Department of Energy that was set up by President Carter, with the purpose of getting us off of dependence on foreign oil, and every year the Department of Energy has existed one thing has been consistent. And we've got to give them credit for this. One thing has been very consistent from the Department of Energy. Every year they've existed we've become more dependent on foreign oil.

So if you're in the private sector, and you went all these years, 32 years, working on 33 years or so, with a department in your business that got further and further from its original goal, you'd probably cancel that department, get rid of it, disband it. Not here in government. Not only are they not doing what would help America by getting us off dependence on foreign oil, they are actually working in conjunction with the Department of the Interior to make us more dependent on foreign oil, and to limit the amount of production here in the United States.

Just today, the President of the United States has had the incredible nerve to step up and say, there are thousands and thousands and thousands of Americans who I am going to deprive of the opportunity to have a good union job. And there are thousands and thousands and thousands of more Americans who would be suppliers for those people who would be working on the Keystone pipeline, everything from private suppliers to people that work in steel plants that would be providing the pipe, to be providing the materials that would be used, that would be building the heavy equipment that would be used, all of those thousands and thousands and thousands of ripple jobs that would be coming, this President today is saying, I am not going to allow you to have that kind of job.

We're going to keep pushing, the President might as well have said, to make sure you can get unemployment for 99 weeks, and we can keep you from reaching your God-given potential of actually producing, because there is a great deal of satisfaction for doing something productive, seeing the products of your hands. That's why, as my wife would tell you, I actually enjoy getting out in the backyard on weekends, kind of tough during the winter, but actually getting out there and doing things, so that when I finish I can see I've done something productive, because we come up here and we pass some good legislation in the House, it never becomes law.

We pass things and encourage the President to get the Senate to help us pass off on things so people could become productive, and they could get their own jobs and become productive and they wouldn't need to become so dependent on the Federal Government. It gets pretty frustrating.

But you've got a Department of Energy sitting there, $5.6 billion unobligated, unspent from the last 2 years.

Department of Veterans Affairs. You would think that with all of the veterans who need assistance, who need help, who have problems, both psychologically, physically, that some of that $5.2 billion that's been sitting there for the last couple of years, it could have been used to help our veterans, you would think. Our veterans need help.

President Bush, right before he left office, had asked a retired military, retired Army General to do an assessment of the VA and make recommendations. He had some good recommendations. Unfortunately, they've not been carried out by this administration.

But one of the things he told me personally, privately, he said, the problem with the Veterans Administration is they're supposed to be an assistance organization, and, instead, they think they're an adversarial organization. They should be assisting our veterans. And yet, so often, every time a veteran comes through the door needing help, they look at them as if they're a thief coming in to steal something. Our veterans deserve better than that.

There are some VA clinics, VA places, you know, in Lufkin, I keep asking our veterans--even though I did 4 years in the Army I'm not entitled to this care, but I want to make sure that our veterans get what they think is best for them. People around Lufkin that go to that clinic, they say, hey, I would far rather go to this VA clinic than any other medical facility.

Other places I hear from veterans that go to other clinics that say, I'd just as soon you give us a card and let us go to any doctor or any clinic we want. But at the same time all of this is going on, and we were told there now is a need to increase the contribution for veterans for TRICARE, we find out there's $5.2 billion that has been sitting there unspent, unobligated for the last couple of years.

Department of Justice, $1.9 billion here that we have them coming in before our committee whining and moaning about all of the millions and millions of dollars they need. Turns out they've got $1,900 million that they could use instead of coming begging here for more money from Congress.

You've got other independent agencies and miscellaneous: $82 billion unobligated, unspent; Office of Personnel Management $55 billion. I know that the administration spends more money than any other administration in history, far and away a lot more, but you would think that they wouldn't have to come demanding more and more money and put pressure on Harry Reid down in the Senate to get more and more out of the House because they just can't live on the $55 billion slush fund they have from the last couple of years unspent.

International assistance programs, $45 billion. I've said it over and over, but it is absolutely true. I've seen it firsthand going around. You could even see it in some areas of Afghanistan. You don't have to pay people to hate you. They'll do it for free. It would save a lot of money.

I still have a U.N. voting accountability bill. I filed it my fourth time in this fourth Congress I've been in. It says unless you vote with the United States over half the time in the U.N. that you shouldn't get any foreign assistance from the United States. Again, these people in foreign countries that hate us, it is absolutely their right to do so. But we don't have to pay people to hate us. They'll do it for free.

Environmental Protection Agency, one of those things that was created when Congress made the mistake of giving the Nixon administration the power to consolidate and reorganize government and make it more efficient. The Nixon administration created the Environmental Protection Agency. And right now, the EPA is in the process of costing thousands and thousands and thousands of people jobs all over America, and this administration is doing nothing to rein them in.

Some people have said, well, can the Congress do something about that? Sure we can. We can get rid of the EPA. I've been told by some Federal authorities: But you don't understand. Even though Texas has an environmental commission, the TCEQ, there are a handful of States that don't have environmental commissions for their States, so we need one for the whole country. What happened to the Ninth and 10th amendment? If it is just inside the State, doesn't involve interstate commerce, then why shouldn't we let the States take care of those issues? Instead, the EPA is spending some of their slush fund money to sue States like Texas and others, shutting down power plants.

And I would have thought today that when the President released his statement about why he was going to deprive tens of thousands of Americans jobs immediately where they could earn their own way and own their own things without the government handouts, that he would at least be able to say, ``Because I have a better plan of getting us off foreign oil.'' That's not what he said.

Apparently, it's the President's position he wants to get us off oil--not off foreign oil, just off oil. He wants to put more people out of work, increase the cost of gasoline and diesel, which means increasing the cost of everything you buy in America because transportation costs have to be figured in.

The one good thing about the President killing the Keystone pipeline that you have to acknowledge with money like the EPA has, $4 billion, and Transportation, $45 billion sitting there in their slush fund unobligated, unspent from the last 2 years, different other Agencies, Departments, Department of the Interior, by cancelling the Keystone pipeline, they won't have to spend money checking it out, regulating, making sure things are done appropriately. They can spend these hundreds of billions of dollars, if they care to do so, on more Solyndras. Isn't that a great thing?

We will be able to fund more crony capitalism. Somebody wants to come in and claim they're going to create some kind of solar product, then this administration will take a good look at it; and there's a good chance if you're a Republican you can forget it, but if you're not, you may very well be the next Solyndra to get money appropriated for you. And heck, we may even have one of the administrations step in when the United States, as a creditor, wants to stand in line and get repaid for loans that are made and downgrade those loans and put other unsecured creditors in front, just as the administration did in the bailout of the auto manufacturers, turn the Constitution upside down, deprive people with property of due process. There's a lot of good money to do those good projects that the President has been doing for the last 3 years.

So, Mr. Speaker, I hope that in the days ahead, as people hear more and more complaining and whining from the administration about there not being any money, gee, we're going to have to raise taxes, I hope that there will be people in America that will look at these figures and say: Enough whining. Let us tell you about a shortage of money. You keep taking our money in taxes and sitting on it in your Departments. Enough is enough. It's time to be accountable. It's time to let money be in the hands where it is earned so we can get this economy going again.

One thing is for sure. Even though we've spent more money than any nation in history no matter how you want to look at it, whether it's in dollars or whether it's in percentage of GDP, this administration has been on a course for ruin; and I just hope that as this administration continues to follow the lead of countries like Greece, Italy, Spain, others in economic trouble, that hopefully, before we go over the cliff with them, there will be enough of us that can stop the wagon train and get us back on the right road to prosperity.

Quick recap: $687 billion that has been appropriated or unobligated, unspent from 2010 and 2011, so we shouldn't hear any more bellyaching about there being a shortage of money by this administration. It's time to help the American people, not the bloated government.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.

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