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Public Statements

GOP Freshmen Hour

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mrs. ROBY. Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to be here this evening alongside some of my freshman colleagues.

We want to have a real frank discussion with the American people tonight about a milestone that we hit just last week. This is not a milestone of historic significance that we're proud of, and that is that our national debt has now hit $16 trillion. This brings no pride or cause to celebrate to the American people, nor should it to any Member of this body or our friends in the Senate or in the White House. That is approximately $51,000 for every man, woman, and child in this country. It's unacceptable, and it doesn't, quite frankly, have to be this way.

I want to point you to a few of the President's own words that he said when he was campaigning to be the President of the United States:

We can't afford another 4 years of the kind of deficits we've seen during the last 8. We can't afford to mortgage our children's future on another mountain of debt.

Where are we today? Today we're at a place that is far worse than 4 years ago. With our debt now at $16 trillion, we've not seen anything significant from this White House in an effort to reduce our debt. Instead, all we hear about is new programs that are going to require more taxpayer dollars and not an effort to rein in this out-of-control spending. I want to talk about that tonight.

Tonight we also want to focus on jobs. This is the number one issue facing the American people right now. We need to get America back to work. And this government, this body right here, we don't create the jobs, but we sure can help create an environment in which job creation is right. We have done a lot here in the House to do that. We've passed over 30 bills. They're sitting in the Senate awaiting action.

We are going to continue to highlight what we've learned, in this hour, over the course of our time back at home.

I have my friend from Colorado standing here. I would just say to you, Mr. Gardner, that I'm sure you can say the same about what you learned over the district work period. From traveling from town to town, from county to county in Alabama's Second District over and over again, I have witnessed that the debt has stifled job creation because all it has done is create more uncertainty.

All of the regulation and red tape that has been passed in the previous Congress that this Congress has been unable to undue because of the lack of action in the Senate and ObamaCare, all of that has contributed to more and more uncertainty. People are hurting.

I've traveled around and looked into the eyes of folks, and they can't take any more. Their businesses are on the line, and that then, in turn, is a reflection of what's going to happen in their households.


Mrs. ROBY. If we could spend some time on our young people, because that really paints the picture better than anything.

The graduating class of 2012, when they were getting ready to face the real world in April of this year, the Associated Press reported that half of those college graduates were unemployed. That's half.

Just to show a little bit of a comparison, since President Obama has taken office, the unemployment rate for 20-year-olds to 24-year-olds has increased more than a point from 12.4 percent to 13.9 percent. The median income for those under the age of 35 dropped by 10.5 percent from 2007 to 2010. That's more than any other age group. More of today's 20-somethings to 30-somethings are living with their parents than any of the generations that have gone before them.

So by comparison--and here's what we really highlight--this President's failure and this Congress' failure to get out of the way of job creation. In 1980, 17 percent of adults, 20- to 34-year-olds, had to live with their parents, and today that number is 24 percent. At a time when these young people coming out of college face mountains of student loan debt, they can't find jobs.

Instead of looking and working to find ways to provide opportunities for these young people, President Obama and his policies are setting the stage for these young people to be more dependent on the government. Anyway, that's just to highlight your point exactly that that is the sector of our population that is the promise of tomorrow, and they are unemployed.


Mrs. ROBY. You mentioned your colleges in your district. Actually, there are some great colleges in or right nearby in Alabama's Second District: Alabama State University, Faulkner University, Troy University, and Huntingdon College. But let me just highlight real quickly Alabama's 2-year college system where we have incredible workforce development programs, honing skills in young people that can immediately go out into the workforce, and they deserve better than these lofty promises.

Did you know that since President Obama was inaugurated in January of 2009, the manufacturing sector has shed 590,000 jobs, 590,000 jobs?


Mrs. ROBY. This was since President Obama was inaugurated in January of 2009.

The number of Americans receiving food stamps as of April 2012 was 46.1 million. I heard today one of our colleagues say one in seven, one out of every seven Americans is receiving some sort of nutritional assistance. That is astounding. That is astounding.

We've painted a picture here that is bleak, and we're telling the American people what they already know because so many of them are too aware of this because they're the ones that are suffering from this administration. I just want to say that we have solutions.

We have solutions where we can change things and the private sector can thrive, but that is going to mean getting the government out of the way. We need the leadership in the Senate to have the political courage to stand up and take up our jobs bills, our energy bills that reduce regulation and does just that, gets the government out of the way.


Mrs. ROBY. Absolutely. You know, when you talk to business owners, or at least when I have, you'll hear them say, but there was a time when regulators came into your business to try to make it more effective or a safer environment in which to work, but that time is long gone. Now the regulators are there to find problems and fine you.

I want to give you one example that was astounding to me. A fellow that's in the construction business was explaining to me that he had a friend that's a roofer that had a $700 job, to make a $700 profit on a roofing job. His crew was over there at this home all day long, had the ladder, they were going up and down.

After 5 o'clock, a regulator was driving down the road, pulled over and noticed that he was afraid the ladder didn't come over the eave of the roof just far enough to fit within the regulatory requirements.

He stopped and wrote that fellow up to the tune of $8,000. A $700 job and an $8,000 fine. These guys had been going up and down that ladder all day.

We all agree that not every regulation is bad, but this is an environment that has gotten out of hand; people with too much time on their hands and not coming into businesses in the spirit of helping businesses thrive.


Mrs. ROBY. Right. Let's just go back in time for a minute and talk about some of these other repeals.

We have the Boiler MACT provisions, the Cement MACT, net neutrality, the regulating farm jobs. We can go down the list one by one by one and talk about the efforts that we have taken here in the House. With the strength of the numbers here, some of these have been with bipartisan support that we've passed these measures. And yet again and again and again, it's just time after time after time it's sitting in the Senate without any action.

All you have to do is go look at the budget that the House has passed the past 2 years that Chairman Ryan put forth out of committee and came to the full floor. You mentioned the President's budget where there were zero votes--zero votes. We talk about offering solutions to the American people to look that small business owner in the eye and say, ``Yes, I am working for you; yes, I have a solution for you; yes, I have a way to get out of your way,'' which is what we've done, and our budget outlines very, very specifically what these solutions are.

Our spending is out of control, which in turn, like you already mentioned, just takes it a whole other step that this Congress is not doing their job, and therefore the jobs are not being created by the private sector, period. It all comes down to that.


Mrs. ROBY. But the problem with our farming communities is that they are, in a lot of instances, they own a lot of land. So they have wealth when it comes to land ownership, but they may not have the cash. And so when the government comes along to tax the farm upon the death of a parent that wants to pass it down, they've got to sell the farm to pay the tax, and that's where our farmers lose out every time.

And there are numerous other businesses throughout this country where they may be cash poor. They may have some assets but they may be cash poor, and so they end up having to sell it off in order to pay the government for that company's success.


Mrs. ROBY. You just add our lack of tax reform, which we so desperately need, and I know that we are committed to that here in the House majority. We do have a plan that we've set out as it relates to those reforms. We know that American businesses are faced with an unbelievably complicated and cumbersome Tax Code, combined, over 30 percent on businesses, not to mention the problems with the estate taxes. It makes the U.S. the second highest corporate tax rate among developed nations in the world. So the U.S. Federal rate is 35 percent. It's nearly 10 percentage points higher than our other competitors. That, on top of all of the other issues that we've highlighted.

I mentioned the manufacturing jobs. I don't know about you, but I get this question all the time: Where have all the manufacturing jobs gone? People always highlight that we just chase these jobs offshore. And it's because we have created this environment in which business owners don't have a choice. If they're going to turn a profit, they have to do what is the benefit for their family to make that hard-earned dollar.

I remember hearing a colleague give an example. He was sitting on an airplane next to a guy that made things. He made things, he produced a product, and he wanted to make them in the United States of America. But when it came down to it, the bottom line--he thought he was going to open his plant right here, but when it came down to it, they hadn't taken into account the corporate tax rate and the difference between that and the next country where they could manufacture his product.

That sealed the deal. They are not manufacturing in the United States because of the environment in which we have.


Mrs. ROBY. I was going to say in June for the first time in 44 months, small businesses cited taxes, taxes above poor sales as the single most important problem that they are facing today. Taxes.


Mrs. ROBY. Absolutely. Again, by virtue of a comparison, with the President's proposed tax hike, deficits would still total 6.6 trillion over the next 10 years according to his own budget. But by comparison, our budget, the House Republican budget, would reduce deficits compared to his by 3.3 trillion while lowering taxes on small businesses and spurring economic growth. That's the difference.


Mrs. ROBY. You know, to use the President's words again, because these are direct quotes, so let's look at a couple of things.

Last April, President Obama said, ``We have to live within our means, we have to reduce our deficit, and we have to get back on a path that will allow us to pay down our debt.'' That was the President just last April.

But also I want to make sure that there is no misunderstanding. This is the President's own words in February of 2009: ``I am pledging to cut the deficit by half by the end of my first term in office.'' And I know we are kind of circling back to how we began this hour tonight, but since the President has taken office, our national debt has increased by $5.3 trillion.

Mr. GARDNER. And 5.3 trillion, now, I think there's a statistic out there that shows that that's more money than the amounts of money spent by or the deficits between George Washington and Bill Clinton combined--or maybe it's George H.W. Bush. The fact is, we've never seen a period in our Nation's history where unemployment has been matched by a failure to recognize the needs of the American people, where debts are allowed to skyrocket, where you can say on TV one thing, pledge to the American people that you will cut the deficit in half, and then the next thing you know it's up by $5 trillion.

Maybe the question isn't are you better off today than you were 4 years ago, but maybe the question ought to be are you better off today than you were $5.3 trillion ago?

Mrs. ROBY. Well, your son can attest to that because he's 10 months old and already owes, his share is, what, $51,000 at 10 months old. You know, we both have young children and this is why we are here. We're here for them because we want this country to be as great for your children and mine and all America's children and grandchildren and generations to come. And quite frankly, it is horrendous that we would leave this situation on their backs.

We keep hearing about balancing the budget on the backs of the middle class. How about spending massive amounts of taxpayer dollars on the backs of my children and my children's children. This is where the future of this country is dependent, and if we don't get serious about this now, why wait? Why are we waiting until November? Why is the leadership in the Senate waiting until after the election to take on problems that are serious now?

As you said before, the clock keeps ticking up. The debt keeps accumulating between now and November. It's not like the 16 trillion is just some arbitrary number. I mean, it's a huge number, but it doesn't stand still. It's going to continue to increase.

As I explained when I am in town halls about the debt ceiling, the debt ceiling is like calling your credit card company and saying to your credit card company, ``I need you to increase my credit limit because I don't have any cash to pay you the interest on what I already owe, on the debt I already owe.'' That's where we are. And that's on the back of Margaret and George and your children and all of those other children and grandchildren of Americans. As you can tell, as a mom it makes me upset, and that's why we're here.

Republicans in the House majority have taken action on a number of things that have already been mentioned tonight: we've repealed the government takeover of health care. Ride down the road in any district in this country and talk to a small business owner about that, and you will find out very quickly that they're either going to be close to being out of business or they're going to go out of business completely if this law is fully enacted.

We have stopped massive tax increases here in this House that one independent analysis said could destroy more than 700,000 jobs--you highlighted that earlier. We have replaced these indiscriminate spending cuts from sequestration with commonsense solutions by calling on, again, our friends in the Senate whose budget reconciliation--it's hard to do that if you don't have a budget--but through budget reconciliation, through commonsense cuts instead of just across the board, and rein in this wasteful government spending. And with the 30-plus bills that you and I have highlighted some portion thereof in this discussion tonight that are sitting collecting dust in the Senate, all 30 of these jobs are job-creating, energy-producing bills that are sitting in the Senate collecting dust.


Mrs. ROBY. Well, and you will see, again, further action from leadership here in the House on that, calling on the President to outline exactly what this is going to look like. And like you said, he hasn't. It's just one more on the list of uncertainties for job creators.

I see our colleague and our friend, the gentleman from Kansas, has joined us. Certainly feel free to jump in here.


Mrs. ROBY. The only thing that we all can agree on is that the only thing that is certain is that uncertainty; and to hear the consistency in all of our experiences back home, it's astounding to me why we cannot--why the President and the leadership in the Senate cannot see this, because if they're really listening to the same Americans that you and I are listening to, they would hear the same message that we've brought to the floor tonight.

Mr. Speaker, the choice for the President and the Senate is very, very clear. It's either political paralysis that leads to certain economic catastrophe, or bipartisan leadership that puts us on a path towards prosperity.

And I would just ask that they keep in mind a few people. Remember who this economy has hit the hardest. You've heard stories tonight in this hour of those business owners that have said just that.

Remember the moms at the grocery store that are trying to put food on the table for their family or gas in the car to get to their one or maybe two jobs.

Remember the young people, the recent graduates that we've talked about that can't find a job; and half of them in the class of 2012 are unemployed and they are drowning in debt.

All of these groups, all of these groups, they deserve leadership out of Washington, not lip service.

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

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