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Republicans are Holding America Hostage

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. HIGGINS. Mr. Speaker, the Republican majority of this House is holding the American people and its economy hostage in a cynical ploy to keep the economy from growing and creating jobs.

In the year 2000, 12 years ago, the Federal budget had a $258 billion surplus that was a direct result of having created 22 million private sector jobs under the Clinton administration. New road and bridge projects were funded and American businesses were providing the labor and equipment to help rebuild the Nation's infrastructure.

In the year 2001, the new Republican administration came in and looted a surplus that they didn't create to finance two tax cuts we couldn't afford and two wars that took over $1 trillion out of the American economy. They ruined the American economy by losing more jobs than in any period in the past 60 years and created a financial crisis not seen since the Great Depression. The Republican Party and their failed policies took us from record surplus to record deficit.

In 2009, the Republicans handed this mess over to the current President and have vowed not to help him rebuild this Nation and its economy. They have created a phony debt limit crisis that reverberated throughout the American economy and the financial markets. The debt ceiling crisis cost American investors $18 million and led to a downgrade of the Nation's credit rating. This debt limit crisis imposed a tax on the American people that did real and permanent damage.

Default, or the threat of default, will exact more economic damage on an already fragile recovery, and they're threatening to do it all again later this year--this, despite the fact that the House Republican budget resolution spends $1 trillion more than it takes in in revenue. The logical consequence of their budget, the Republican budget, is to raise the debt ceiling.

We need to nation build right here in America. Our Nation's roads and bridges are falling part. You have 69,000 structurally deficient bridges in this Nation. Every second of every day, seven cars drive on a bridge that is structurally deficient. The Senate and the House just passed a $105 billion transportation bill to spend less than $53 billion in each of the next 2 years. While it is something, it's weak--in fact, it's pathetically weak. It will fill a few potholes, surely, but won't reconstruct roads or build bridges. It will create some jobs but won't put a dent in the unemployment rate.

We need to do nation building right here at home in America. Congress just spent $65 billion rebuilding the roads and bridges of Iraq, a nation of 26 million people. You just spent $78 billion rebuilding the roads and bridges of Afghanistan, a nation of 30 million people. And all you can come up with is $53 billion for nation building in America, our Nation, a Nation of over 300 million people.

The American Society of Civil Engineers gave us a D grade, and they and the United States Chamber of Commerce agree that the poor quality of America's infrastructure costs our economy hundreds of billions of dollars in lost growth.

To grow this economy and create jobs, we need to invest in rebuilding the roads, bridges, water, and sewer systems of this country. According to the New America Foundation, a 5-year, $1.2 trillion American rebuilding plan would create 27 million jobs. In the first year alone, the economy would add 5.2 million jobs, or 433,000 jobs each month, and the economy would grow by over $400 billion. Unemployment would be reduced to 6.2 percent in the first year alone and 5.6 percent in the second year.

This is a real and compelling jobs plan. The best tax policy is to bring back into the economy lost taxpayers and to buy labor, materials, equipment, and services from American small businesses.

Austerity didn't work in the United States in 1937, it didn't work in Japan in the 1990s, and it's not working in Europe and the United States today. To grow the economy, we need to invest and save. House Republicans need to stop whining about China and stand up for America.


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