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Public Statements

Fiscal Challenges

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. CARPER. Would my colleague yield?

Madam President, I want to follow up--we are supposed to talk about tomorrow being Delaware Day, if I could do that. But I wish to follow up on Senator Coons' remarks on the fiscal cliff.

A friend of mine who has done a lot of research on the fiscal cliff says that if you look at domestic and discretionary spending, that is not really the overwhelming problem as far as why we continue to have a big budget deficit. The problem is really twofold. One of those is that if you look at revenues as a percentage of GDP, historically when we have been in budget, the revenues as a percentage of GDP, at least in the last 10, 15 years, revenues have been about 21 percent of GDP. Today they are about 15, 16 percent of GDP.

But the other big driver in our deficit situation going forward is health care costs. It is health care costs, including Medicare and Medicaid. While we have to be smart enough to try to figure it out while being humane about caring for older people and the poor who count on Medicaid and Medicare to some extent, we have to focus on how to get better health care results for less money. That is what we have to focus on--how to get better health care results for less money. There are a lot of good ideas for doing that. Some of them are actually part of the health care law for our country.

So it is revenues, and the other key here is better health care results for less money. We need to make sure that we have focused on Medicare and Medicaid in a humane way and that we do so in a way that doesn't harm, doesn't hurt, is not mean-spirited to those who depend on those programs.

At the same time, we need to preserve those programs for the coming generations. For the pages down here--how old are you guys? Fifteen, sixteen years of age? Several of you are nodding your heads. We want to make sure these programs are still around when you are 65, 66, 67 or older. That is what this is for. It is sort of a P.S. to the wonderful comments of my colleague from Delaware.

What is tomorrow in Delaware, I ask the Senator?

I seem to forget. What is this all about?

Mr. COONS. Madam President, as anyone who has looked at the beautiful Delaware flag knows--and it flies in our offices and hallways here--it has a date emblazoned on the bottom--December 7, 1787, and that is known as Delaware Day. That is the day when Delaware became the first State to ratify the Constitution.

So to celebrate Delaware Day, we do some things together, don't we?

Mr. CARPER. And we have fun doing them. One of the things we are going to do--a great idea from a brandnew Senator to Delaware about a year ago--is to have a ``Taste of Delaware.'' In fact, we are doing that this afternoon. It is not something paid for by the Federal Government but sponsored by our Delaware State Chamber of Commerce, as I recall, and others of its members to sort of be able to show off some of the finest of our State, and some of them pretty tasty, as it turns out. So we are looking forward to a lot of people coming by and enjoying that.


Mr. CARPER. We have this beautiful center of Georgetown, with all these beautiful old brick buildings, courthouses and other buildings, and as we gather there in the circle of Georgetown--and the Senator may have said this and I just missed it--but the town crier comes out on the balcony of the courthouse and he has on his top hat and his tails and he announces the results of the election 2 days earlier. This is Thursday after the election. He calls out the results of the election 2 days earlier just for Sussex County, DE, where about a sixth of our State's population lives. He calls out the results of everything from President, Vice President, all the way down to justice of the peace or sheriff. And when he finishes, we have a couple of short speeches on the platform there in front of thousands of people, maybe a patriotic song or two, and then the leaders of parties, Democrat, Republican, maybe Libertarian chairman, take a hatchet--a pretty big hatchet--and they grab it, each holding on, and they put it down in a glass aquarium half full of sand. And then someone brings in some buckets of sand, maybe from Rehoboth Beach or Dewey Beach, and they cover up and literally bury the hatchet.

Some of my colleagues from New Jersey said: If we had a ceremony like that in our State, and we buried the hatchet, it probably wouldn't be in the sand. It would be in the anatomy or some part of the body of our opponents. But we do it in the sand. And then we have maybe a benediction, and we go off and eat, and people open their homes for a reception. So as the day carries on and the Sun sets in the west, the travails and the passions of the election begin to dissipate and people start to think and refocus not on how do we beat our opponents' brains out but how do we work together to govern our State.

It is a wonderful tradition. We have talked about this before. I think we could use a return day for our country. It certainly works in our State. It has a very civilizing effect on all our campaigns.


Mr. CARPER. I would add to that this is a commitment to civility that Senator Coons and I share, and it is also one that our Congressman John Carney certainly does, and winning in races before him, Mike Castle. If you think of all of those--Castle with a ``C'', Carney with a ``C'', Coons with a ``C'', and Carper with a ``C''--people say what is it with the letter ``C'' and the State of Delaware? If I can, before I close here, I want to roll back in time about the economy of our State. People say what do you all do there? How do you provide for your living, your income? I would say the economy of our State is pretty much founded on the letter ``C.'' It includes corn. We started off by growing corn. Then chickens. There are a whole of lot of chickens there. For every person in Delaware, there are 300 chickens. For anyone listening and wondering what to have for dinner, chicken would be good. We have chemicals--the DuPont Company. A poor impoverished French family came to Delaware over 200 years ago and established what I call the DuPont country club. They didn't have many members. They figured they needed to establish some jobs so people could join their country club, so they started a chemical company, and a power company, and now they have quite a successful science company in our State--for over 200 years. We have cars. We have built a lot of cars over the years for GM and Chrysler. We are home to corporations of over half the New York Stock Exchange, half the Fortune 500. Credit card businesses are in our State. The coast of our State is the site of the Nation's summer capital--Rehoboth Beach and a bunch of other places. So the letter ``C'' has been pretty big.

People say: Well, why do they call you the First State? Well, we are actually the first colony that threw off the yoke of British tyranny on June 15, 1776 and at the same time said to Pennsylvania, take a hike, we want to be a State on our own. And then 225 years from tomorrow, to be exact, we were the first State to ratify the Constitution.

We have the best beaches in the country. Last year I think there were four five-star beaches in America, with two of them in Delaware--Rehoboth and Dewey Beach. We have the best Air Force base, we think, in the world. We were first in Ph.Ds per capita. We have, I think, the finest Judiciary--acknowledged year after year after year as the finest judicial system in the States. We have the best financial controls and cash management system. We have had triple A credit rating since--what was that guy's name as Governor, Carper or something? We continue to have that kind of credit rating. So we are proud of being first.

What is our State motto? ``It is good to be first.'' And we attempt to be first in a whole lot of ways. Some things you don't want to be first in, and we want to be last in those. But we are proud of what we are first in--first in civility.

As Senator Coons said, this all goes back to Return Day. When you announce your candidacy for election, whether it is for the U.S. Senate or as sheriff, you know at the end of the campaign--2 days after the campaign--you are going to be in Georgetown, DE, in a horse-drawn carriage or maybe an antique car with the man or woman you were running against, their family, your family, and surrounded by friends and supporters and thousands of other people. And I think it has a very tempering effect on the nature of our campaigns, a wonderful effect.

That is one of much that we are proud of in our State. We are lucky to be Senators from this State, but this is a State that works and focuses on results. This is a State where we govern from the middle, whether the Governor is DuPont or Castle or Carper or Markell. And whether the Senator is Carper or Coons or Biden or Kaufman, we govern from the middle. We are a State where Democrats and Republicans actually like each other. We just want to get things done and do what is right for our State.

With that in mind, we hope some of our friends and neighbors can join us later today in the Russell Building up on the third floor. We will make a toast to Delaware and enjoy some sarsaparilla and some other goodies as well.

It is a great joy to serve with my friend.


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