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Public Statements

GOP Freshmen Hour

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. HUELSKAMP. I appreciate the opportunity. Just like my colleagues, I've spent a little time in the real world. Some call it a recess; for many of us it was time to go back home. I admit in this job, I'll admit that I would much rather not be here and be at home. But what I heard at home is many of the same things that my colleagues are saying tonight: Washington, can you get your act together? In this Chamber, we passed many, many things that would hopefully improve the economy, but one thing that seems to be on the mind of my colleagues is pretty clear.

Times have changed. I know some of my colleagues have been here a while, and they think that perhaps in the White House it's the same old, same old. But when we hit the $16 trillion mark for debt, that raised another red flag about what's going on in Washington.

I am a Republican. My colleagues tonight here are Republicans as well. We're not going to say it's a Democrat problem; we're not going to say it's a Republican problem. At the end of the day it is a Washington problem: it's the fact that we can't get our act together here in Washington. We can vote in here to free up job creators. We can vote in here to roll back regulations. But at the end of the day, we have $16 trillion of debt.

Like my colleagues, I have young children. I have four young kids. Each one of them, they've done nothing wrong yet--they do a few things wrong, I catch them every day at that--but through no fault of their own, they've got $15,000 they're going to owe on some spending that's already happened before my freshman colleagues and I arrived at this place--$15,000, and it is growing every day.

Under this President, trillion-dollar deficits have become the new norm. The last year of the previous administration, $452 billion of deficits in 1 year, I think the President, then Senator, was bemoaning the fact of what a dastardly amount that was, and here we have doubled and tripled that amount, and each year for the last 4 years added over $5 trillion of debt. You know, that adds up.

My constituents always keep saying, well, I can't quite understand what's a million, a billion, a trillion. It's pretty hard to explain to them--they don't understand a billion. But for the last 3 1/2 years, this President, this town--Washington--has added $3.5 billion of borrowing every single day, 3 1/2 years for $3.5 billion. That's unsustainable, and they want us to solve this problem.

But again, when folks like us gathered here see and hear the concerns of Americans that we have a spending problem--it's not a revenue problem. If it was a revenue problem, we simply would let off the gas pedal a little bit on regulations and we would take care of that. Everybody knows that. Every job creator comes to me and says, Tim, I'd like to invest more. I was visiting with a businessman who owns a packaging company--American Packaging in Hutchinson, Kansas. He said, TIM, I employ 43 employees--and by the way, he did build it--I employ 43 folks. When my father-in-law bought this business in 1987, there were five people employed here.

And you know what, TIM, here's what I'd like to do: I'd like to hire two more people. Here in Washington, two more people doesn't add up to anything, but for two families in Hutchinson, Kansas, it would mean the difference between paying college tuition for their kids, whether or not they are able to update their used car, or whether they would be able to make the mortgage or down payment on their house, or whether they might even go on a vacation. That's the difference here.

Today, we have 23 million Americans--just like the two in Hutchinson--that don't have a job or are looking for more work. And Tony at American Packaging says this, he says: Just give me some certainty. Tell me what the rules are going to be, whether it's the tax uncertainty that happens at the end of the year--I'm sure it's been described here. If nothing changes, if Washington doesn't get its act together, if the President doesn't step up to the plate and help us, we're going to have the single largest tax increase in American history--and I dare say in the world's history--happen at the end of the year if we don't get help from the administration, if the Senate Democrats are not willing to provide certainty on taxes.

In addition, we have the regulatory uncertainty that's been discussed. We'll have the health care uncertainty. The provisions of ObamaCare are rolling in. Small businesses like Tony's do not know, what do we have to cover? I don't want to hire two more people because I might be fined if I can't provide for them. It's that type of uncertainty that says, you know what? I can invest, I'd like to make some money--and the businesses are there not just to create jobs; they're actually there to make a profit for the owners and to perform a service for the public. They're not here to work for Washington. But that's actually what does happen if you let the free market and free enterprise system work.

I had a video where Tony spoke. And I must say what shamed me the most was the response from our local newspaper--that was actually, I believe, fronting for this administration. Because Tony talked about the fact that he and his father-in-law built this business, and the newspaper said: No, you didn't build that business; the Government played a key role in making that happen. You know, the government wasn't there with his father-in-law when he hired employee six, employee seven, employee eight. They weren't there. They didn't take the risk. Now we have this whole town wants to take credit, including this President, every time someone hires a new person. But they don't take credit or they don't take fault for the fact that millions of Americans have quit looking for work in the Obama economy.

And it won't be perfect under any President. It never is. Washington can't dictate how an economy ebbs and flows. What I trust in, though, is the American people and American businessmen like Tony that say, hey, I would like to invest, Tim; just give me the certainty to do so and hire two more folks. It doesn't mean anything, again, in Washington, but it means something in the real world. So I appreciate my colleagues being here.

One of the things that the newspaper did mention--actually, it was a taxpayer-funded college professor--he said, you know, I just want to let you know that the free enterprise system is a charade. Of course, I guess if you work for a public university free enterprise might be a charade. But this is the type of thought that invades many in the White House. It certainly invades where this gentleman teaches. But the fact is free enterprise is not a charade. What it is about is individuals taking a risk, making decisions free from me, free from you, Cory, free from Martha's demands, free to make and take those risks. That's how the economy will continue to grow. That's how we will build the best economy in the world. And that's the economy that's being threatened with $16 trillion in debt.

Again, this is not our problem, it's not their problem; it's America's problem to solve this. I think we're making progress in the House, and we're going to continue to move forward.

So that's a little bit of what I've heard in my district about their concerns about where we're going to head and where we need to head. I have had town hall after town hall--about 140 town halls. And usually at every town hall somebody comes up to me and says, Tim, I'm doing pretty well--and my district actually is doing fairly well, despite a massive drought which impacts Colorado as well.

And we could talk about water all night, but we probably better not. We're friends right now--just kidding.

But they come up to me and say, Tim, you know, I think I'm going to do fine. I'm ready for retirement. A guy, 62, about, told me this the last time, but I'm worried about what kind of America I hand on to my children and grandchildren. And this current state of affairs, this $16 trillion, he says, I'm ready to do what it takes. I'm ready to keep working a little bit longer, do a little more, make a little more sacrifices, a little more investments, because I want a better country than I was given, because my parents gave me a better country than they had and my grandparents did the same.

That's the type of promise. That's why I get optimistic. That's why I like to go home, because that's what you guys hear at home as well as I do. They're optimistic. They're hopeful about the future, despite what's going on here in Washington, D.C.


Mr. HUELSKAMP. Fifty-five percent death tax. I mean, that's the one that hits the heart of my small businessmen and -women. And they're trying to hand on their business to their children or their grandchildren or someone else they choose, and government's going to come in and grab up to 55 percent of that estate, and that impacts farmers and ranchers in particular, and many other small businesses.

The very heart of economic recoveries in this country have always been driven by small business. It isn't the folks that hire a thousand people at a time. It's the ones that take--add one person, or take a part-time person to full time. And that's what I'm hearing at home, and they're frustrated. But they're ready to roll up their sleeves and go to work, and they expect Congress and Washington to do the same.


Mr. HUELSKAMP. Oh, tremendous days are ahead of us. They say, hey, just stop doing a little of what you're doing. I'll even admit it. Some of them even say, you know what, what's there right now, as much as I don't like it, if you could just keep it the same. Two years. Give us a breather. Give us a moratorium. We'd like to roll them back, but give us a moratorium, some certainty on taxes, on regulations, on health care, and, Tim, we'll take care of your revenue problems. We'll do it for you.


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