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The Facts About the President's Economic Record

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. WOODALL. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I appreciate you being here with me on a Friday afternoon and for you providing the time.

I tell you, I couldn't have asked for anything better than to have the President's economic message read right before I came down here to the floor, because I have exactly that same thing on my mind.

It is shocking to me--and you will remember, Mr. Speaker, that it was less than a month ago that the entire U.S. House of Representatives was sitting here in this Chamber, that the entire United States Senate was sitting here in this Chamber, the Supreme Court and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and that the President was standing right here, not 5 feet from where I'm standing today--not 5 feet in front of you, Mr. Speaker--giving his State of the Union speech. What struck me about that speech is that I could have given almost word for word the exact same one.

Mr. Speaker, when we talk about the rhetoric in this country, the rhetoric's the same. Very little divides Republicans and Democrats. The President said in the economic address that the clerk just read, ``We need to make choices.'' We need to make choices about who we are and what we're going to do.

I happen to have behind me, Mr. Speaker, the President's budget. I left the plastic on this one. I have another one that I've poured through. And in fact, for folks who are back in their offices, Mr. Speaker, I would recommend instead of cutting through the plastic to go ahead and go to That's the President's Office of Management and Budget. The entire Federal budget that he has proposed is there on the Web site for all Americans to see.

It's not a small project to put together, the United States budget, and I applaud the President for taking that step. Of course the United States Senate, Mr. Speaker, 200 yards from where we stand right now, hasn't produced a budget in over 1,000 days. And in fact, the majority leader over there, Harry Reid, said just last week that he's not going to do it again this year. We have time, Mr. Speaker. We have a common set of numbers on which we could base it, and he said, I'm not going to do it. It's not necessary. A reporter said, But it's the law. He said, It's not important; I'm not going to do it. A reporter said, But your Democratic Budget Committee chairman said he's going to mark up a budget in the Budget Committee. And Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said, Well, they can do what they want in the Budget Committee, but I'm not bringing a budget to the Senate floor.

Mr. Speaker, I have got in my breast pocket here the rule book by which this United States of America is supposed to run, the United States Constitution, this document by which all of our decisions are judged. One of the only things this document asks us to do here in the U.S. House of Representatives is to pass a budget each and
every year. The Budget Act of 1974 asked that same thing of the House and of the Senate. Propose that budget. And the President has done that. To his credit, he's proposed a budget.

But he said in his message that was read moments ago, ``We have to make choices.'' And what you will find, Mr. Speaker, if you go through this budget, as I know families are across this country--folks are curious about what the President is proposing--you will find a budget devoid of tough choices. Hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of pages in my hand, Mr. Speaker, devoid of tough choices.

The President said in his economic address that you read moments ago, that the clerk read moments ago, Mr. Speaker, this is a make-or-break moment for the middle class. Nonsense. Nonsense. This is a make-or-break moment for America. This is a make-or-break moment for this experiment that we call our Republic. This is a make-or-break moment for all of the values that we share as an independent people.

This is not a make-or-break moment for the middle class; this is a make-or-break moment for every single person who calls America home. And if we are going to preserve our Republic, Mr. Speaker, if we are going to protect the opportunity society for which America has become known, we have to make tough choices.

Mr. Speaker, have you thought about it? Because it's plagued me since I was sworn in last January. I have only been here as a Member of Congress a little over a year. What about the old mantra, ``Send me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses longing to be free.'' What about that, Mr. Speaker? ``Your tired, your poor, your huddled masses longing to be free.'' Why aren't the doors of America flung open to every freedom-loving person on this planet? And I know the answer. Because in the days of America when that was the mantra of the land, this was an opportunity society. You came and you succeeded by the power of your ideas and the sweat of your brow. Some folks succeeded, and some folks failed. Failure is a part of all of our lives. If you are not experiencing failure, you are not trying hard enough. If you are pushing yourself to your extremes, you are going to find you will come up short sometimes. You are going to learn from that, and you are going to do better next time.

But, Mr. Speaker, while a safety net is important to America, a safety sponge that sucks you down into it and prevents you from ever escaping and being free is not the principle on which this country was founded. And day after day after day, we let our country go further in that direction.

Let's talk about the economic record that was just discussed in the President's economic address, Mr. Speaker. This is what the President said almost 2 years ago today. In February of 2010 he said this: Jobs will be our number one focus in 2010, and we're going to start where new jobs do, with small businesses. He's absolutely right. More than half of all the jobs that

get created in this country get created by small businesses. That's where the entrepreneurship is. That's where the hiring excitement is. That's where the new ideas come from. We love our Home Depots. We love our Deltas. We love our UPS's and our Wal-Marts. But that's not where the job growth comes from. The President is absolutely right. Job growth comes from our small businesses. And 2 years ago almost today, Mr. Speaker, the President knew it. The President knew that if we were going to get this economy back on track, we have to start with the folks who hire. We have to start with the folks who are able to put Americans back to work, our small businesses.

Mr. Speaker, this is a chart that actually came from the General Services Administration, one of the agencies that the President oversees. But it was published in The Wall Street Journal. It was titled ``Rising Regulation.'' Let me show you what we see here. You can't see it, Mr. Speaker, but this chart goes from 1995 to 2011. And what it shows is the number of published final rules that cost American businesses more than $100 million a year. That's what it takes in this country, Mr. Speaker. Before we consider a rule, a really powerful rule, before we consider a rule really detrimental to this country, it has to cost $100 million. I would tell you if it costs $1 million, it's important. I would tell you if it costs $10 million, it's important. But our measuring stick says $100 million.

This is what we see: on average, about 80 such rules a year. Now I'm a small government conservative from the great State of Georgia, Mr. Speaker. I will tell you, 80 major rules like that a year are sapping freedom from individuals, sapping freedom from communities, sapping freedom from States, and that's too many. But that's kind of what we have as an average over the past 15 years.

But look what happens, Mr. Speaker. The day that Nancy Pelosi gets sworn in as the Speaker of the House, the day President Obama gets sworn in as President of the United States, the number of major rules costing the American economy more than $100 million a year skyrockets, skyrockets. And by ``skyrockets,'' Mr. Speaker, I mean doubles from the level that President Clinton was imposing. Understand that. This isn't a Republican/Democrat issue. This is an individual philosophy issue. The individual that's in the White House matters. The individual that's in the Speaker's chair matters. Those individual philosophies translate into policies. We had a Republican Congress, a Democratic President, and we continued at about a historical average in terms of proposing new rules and regulations. But when we elected Nancy Pelosi to the Speaker's House, when we elected President Obama to the White House, we see the number of major regulations skyrocket. And who do you think pays for that, Mr. Speaker? We do, as the American consumer. Everybody in America pays for that when they go to buy goods at the shop. Or they may pay for that when their job leaves America and travels overseas. They may pay for that when the product they used to be able to buy is no longer manufactured because a new rule or regulation has put that product out of business.

My mom said that about 100 watt light bulbs the other day. She had been hoarding them. We are one of those hoarders, I confess. We need those 100 watt light bulbs. We went to the store and couldn't find them. They were put out of business by a regulatory burden. The President knows he needs to start with small businesses to create jobs. That's what he says. But what he does is preside over the most onerous regulatory burden increase that our Nation has seen in decades.

This chart is particularly troubling to me, Mr. Speaker. It's a measurement of the ease of starting a business. The United States used to be fourth. Today we're 13th. OECD countries, folks looking around the world, Where can entrepreneurs succeed? Where can new ideas succeed? Where can economies grow, be changed, be vibrant? The U.S. has fallen from 4 to 13. Let me tell you who's in front of us on the world stage now, Mr. Speaker: Macedonia, Georgia--the country, not my home State--Rwanda, Belarus, Saudi Arabia, Armenia.

These are the countries, based on a static list of economic models of rules and regulations and opportunities for economic success, places where it's easier to succeed in today than in America. That's outrageous, Mr. Speaker. The President knows that if we are going to create jobs in this country, we have got to start where most jobs do, with small businesses. That's what he says. But what he does is preside over a decline of opportunity in this country that puts us now below Macedonia, Saudi Arabia, Rwanda, and Belarus on the world economic stage.

Mr. Speaker, from the Department of Labor we see entrepreneurship in America has reached a 17-year low. Entrepreneurship in America is at a 17-year low. Business startups are at the lowest level since data was first collected in 1994; business startups at the lowest level since the data began to be collected at the Department of Labor in 1994.

Mr. Speaker, this isn't a chart about business success. We all know that starting a business is hard. If you've been out there and you've tried to do it, you've probably had more failures than successes. It's hard to grow a business. This isn't about businesses succeeding. This is about Americans who are willing to try. The number of Americans willing to try has fallen to a 17-year low. And I ask you, Mr. Speaker, is this a measurement that Americans have changed or is this a measurement that the business climate in America has changed?
We are the same proud, independent, hardworking, family-loving people that we have always been when these numbers were started in 1994. We are those same people as a country, Mr. Speaker. But the environment in which we live, the economic marketplace in which we operate, that's changed. That's changed, Mr. Speaker. Since 1994, you see the regulatory burden on small businesses. As we now move to a 17-year low in economic activity, Mr. Speaker, you see our regulatory burdens are at a historic high. That's not a coincidence. That's causative.

Mr. Speaker, faced with these challenges, the President has presented his budget. And I'll say it again. I said it when I opened, but I want to say it again. I appreciate the President taking on that leadership role. It's a role that the law requires that he take it on, and so he takes it on.

That would distinguish him from the United States Senate, where the law also requires that they take it on but they ignore that responsibility year after year after year after year. And the reason they do, Mr. Speaker--and I don't mind sharing this with folks. Folks know it. Folks back in their offices watching, they know why. Because a budget is a moral document. You can't publish hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of pages without telling the American people how you feel about the challenges facing our Nation.

As I said in the beginning, this document tells me the President feels powerless to confront any of the problems facing our Nation because not a single tough decision is made in this entire budget. But at least he put that out there for the American people to see; not so with our colleagues on the Senate side.

This is what happened in the President's budget, Mr. Speaker. He claims $4 trillion worth of deficit reduction. And again, I want to give him credit for that. There used to be a time when folks would send budgets to Capitol Hill and brag about how much more money they are spending each year. When the President wants to sell this budget to Capitol Hill, he's bragging about how much less he's spending than previous budgets. He says he's reduced the Federal budget by $4 trillion over the 10-year window. Kudos. Kudos. Except that's not exactly how the numbers shake out.

Mr. Speaker, of the $4 trillion that he claims credit for, $2 trillion has already been passed into law. You'll remember this new freshman class that you and I are a part of, Mr. Speaker, we came in here and we passed the 2011 appropriations bills. We passed the 2012 appropriations bills. We passed the Budget Control Act. We implemented $2 trillion worth of changes to the Federal budget, $2 trillion over a 10-year window, moving us back towards black and away from red.

The President claims credit for those $2 trillion that are already signed into law, that are already being implemented, that are already the practice under which the Federal Government operates. He claims credit for those in this new budget. I understand why he wants to, Mr. Speaker, but I don't think that's being honest with the American people. I think we owe the American people more transparency than that.

So let me say to you, about $2.03 trillion of the $4 trillion he claims: already the law of the land.

Down here, Mr. Speaker, we see another $850 billion in savings that he claims. I am labeling this the war gimmick. And I know ``gimmick'' is a value-laden word. I might have been in a bad mood when I labeled it that way, but I think it's accurate. So $850 billion, Mr. Speaker, the President says he's saving the American people. Why? Because wars that were never going to happen, dollars that had never been requested, troops that had never been deployed are, in fact, not going to be deployed. Hear that. This is $850 billion over the 10-year window, war savings, he claims. Money that was never asked for, never appropriated, never going to be appropriated, and would have had to have been borrowed had we needed it. It's not saved money, Mr. Speaker. It's fictional money that was never out there, and the President claims credit for it. Why? Because he needs it to get to his $4 trillion figure.

Down here we have debt service gimmicks, Mr. Speaker; money that we would have borrowed but we're not going to borrow because of changes made in the budget. Again, just to be clear, so far we've looked at $2 trillion already enacted, $850 billion never requested. We're now claiming debt service savings, savings the President is saying the American people are not going to have to pay on debt service on all of these pots of money that we were never going to have to pay debt service to begin with, Mr. Speaker, because they were never the law of the land. These dollars were never going out the door. We saved these $2 trillion in enacted legislation. We never passed legislation to spend this $850 billion out the door, yet we have another $300 billion in debt savings.

Again, is it good news for the American people that we're not going to have to pay that extra $300 billion in interest? It's good news. Don't let me be the one to tell you it's not good news. It's just good news; it's just good news because of what this House has already done, because of laws we have already passed, because of decisions we have already made. Not one penny of that comes from any new decision made in these hundreds upon hundreds upon hundreds of pages, Mr. Speaker. Not one penny.

This chart, Mr. Speaker, lays it out. I had to blow up the tip there. You might be able to see just a little bit of green here.

This dotted white line, Mr. Speaker, is the debt of America. The debt, the borrowing that we have all done from our children and grandchildren. You and I were not here in this House when that happened, Mr. Speaker, but we are responsible for it, just like every other American family is responsible for it. We have to pay it back, just like every other American family has to pay it back. Sixteen trillion dollars today, headed over the 10-year budget window that the President has proposed towards $26 trillion.

Now, Mr. Speaker, what I have here is a dotted white line that shows what current law is, current law. I have a red bar, a red graph that shows you what the President is proposing. This is what you'll see.

The President is proposing that our debt increase in 2013, increase in 2014, increase in 2015 and '16 and '17 and '18 and '19 and '20 and '21. And then, Mr. Speaker, you're not going to be able to see it, but way out here--and I've blown it up just so folks can see it back in their offices--you'll see a little bit of green because those tough decisions, those tough decisions made in these hundreds upon hundreds upon hundreds of pages about how to solve the American debt burden happen--just this much, but happen--in the year 2021. 2021, Mr. Speaker, is when this budget, for the first time, begins to save the American people some bit of debt burden over current law.

We can do better, Mr. Speaker. The President said this is a make-or-break moment for the middle class. This is a make-or-break moment for America. We can do better, and we must.

Mr. Speaker, when I talk about why it is this budget doesn't make any tough choices, you can see it here on this chart. This was actually a chart coming from the Wall Street Journal just a few days ago. It talks about where the money comes from that pays the American bills, the burden here, the moneys that we owe. It talks about where those dollars go. On this side where the dollars come from, you'll see, Mr. Speaker, about half of it comes from individual income taxes, and about a trillion dollars in annual receipts come from Social Security, Medicare, and retirement receipts. We see a little bit down here for corporate income tax, for excise income taxes, and from duties. This is where the money comes from. But look at where the money goes. And this is important, Mr. Speaker, because when we talk about making tough decisions, when we talk about confronting the mountain of debt that's building, when we talk about doing things that will make certain that the lives that our children will lead will be more prosperous than the lives that we have led, we have to go after those issues that matter.

These orange colors here, Mr. Speaker, is what we call discretionary spending. That's spending that we've taken a trillion dollars out of thus far going forward. It's defense spending in this pie piece, nondefense discretionary spending, and then that takes us to this giant red area, Mr. Speaker. This giant red area has three things in it. The big pie piece is Medicare and Medicaid. That's where the money goes. Money in this country that the Federal Government spends goes to pay health care costs--Medicare and Medicaid, $1.5 trillion this year. Social Security, folks have been paying into Social Security all their life, they dad gum have a right to get that money back. The bill we passed today begins to redefine that commitment for the first time, and I'm concerned about that, but $820 trillion going to Social Security.

And then $250 billion--$250 billion--Mr. Speaker, goes to pay interest on the debt. Now, just to put that in perspective, let's go back, Mr. Speaker. We've got defense spending, we've got Medicaid and Medicare spending, we've got Social Security spending, we've got interest on the debt, and in this pie piece, we have everything else--everything: Our courts, our highways, our environment, our homeland security, our immigration and our parks--everything else.

We spend half as much, Mr. Speaker, half of that amount that goes to everything else, we spend on interest payments alone. Half of the amount that this country spends on everything except Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, interest on the national debt, national defense--everything else we spend half that amount on interest payments alone this year, when interest rates are at their lowest level in a century. Mr. Speaker, what do you think is going to happen when interest rates are no longer at their lowest level in a century? This bar is going to eclipse everything. So what can we do?

I'll tell you what we can do. The money is in Medicare and Medicaid. The money is in Social Security. Mr. Speaker, I'm in my 40s, we must--we must--come to people in my age bracket and say, no more. You will not get what your parents got. You've got to say that to me. You will not receive what your parents received. You've got to say that to me.

Will there be a safety net? There will. Can we provide certainty to folks that it will be there? We can. But if you talk to anybody in their 40s, Mr. Speaker, they'll tell you that they expect those programs to be long bankrupt anyway. Why? Because they are. So these are the tough decisions that we have to make: What are we going to tell the next generation? How are we going to protect these benefits from the current generation?

And, Mr. Speaker, this budget does none of that. Not a word, not an idea, not a proposal. There is nothing in the President's 2013 budget that even hints at the direction he would propose that America go to confront these financial challenges.

Do you think we can dodge these challenges, Mr. Speaker? Do you think we can just put these things out of our head and pretend they don't exist?

This is what we're looking at, Mr. Speaker. I wish you could see this. What we have here is the debt in this country as a percentage of GDP, as a percentage of our total economy. We look at places like Greece where the debt has grown so large. This was the debt as the percentage of our economy in World War II--in World War II, Mr. Speaker, when things had gotten so tough and we were having to ration rubber, ration steel, ration sugar and ration salt, when the country had come together to fight a common foe around the globe, this was our debt as a percentage of our economy.

Here we are today, Mr. Speaker. We're not rationing rubber. We're not rationing sugar. We're not taking those common steps of sacrifice because we think our economy is about to go over the cliff. But it is. And this red line, Mr. Speaker; if we continue with this blue budget that the President has sent to us that makes no tough choices about our future, this red line is the debt that's coming. This is what the law of the land spends on behalf of your family, and mine, and every other American family, Mr. Speaker--and spends our Nation into oblivion.

The truth is it's never going to get as bad as this chart. The Congressional Budget Office which does the projections, their computer actually breaks down about halfway through that red line and says that there's just no way the economy can continue to function under these circumstances. America will no longer exist.

So the good news is, Mr. Speaker, it's not really going to get to the end of that line. But that's the challenge that confronts us, and that's the challenge that this budget avoids.

But that's not why you and I ran for Congress, Mr. Speaker. We ran for Congress to make a difference. To a man and a woman in this freshman class, Republicans and Democrats alike, Mr. Speaker, I have not met one that came here because they thought it was a nifty looking business card. I haven't met one that came here because they couldn't do anything else and they thought, why not I run for Congress? To a man and a woman, every Republican and Democrat I've met in this freshman class came to this body because they want to save America from certain demise--certain demise. It's not possible demise. It's not maybe kind of demise. It is certain demise.

And so what we did as a body, Mr. Speaker, when the Senate wouldn't act, when the President couldn't act, what we did as a body is pass the prosperity budget, which is this green line which changes the course of America.

Mr. Speaker, there are two ways to change the course of America. You can change the America that we have always had into something different. That's where current law is taking us. Or you can reclaim the America that we have always dreamed of, that our parents, our grandparents, and our great-grandparents passed down to us, sacrificed for. We can reclaim that America by making tough decisions.

Mr. Speaker, we have to make those tough decisions. And with the American people behind us, we will succeed. I thank you for the time, and I yield back the balance of my time.

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