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Public Statements

Making Life Work for American Families

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. GARDNER. I thank you for your leadership on this issue tonight, and I thank you for appealing to the American people so we can hear from them so that we can have conversations with people who are struggling to make ends meet, people who are finding innovations to make our economy work, to find those things that are going to lead our country forward. It is a great opportunity and privilege to be here with you talking about ideas from the Working Families Flexibility Act that you mentioned that you're working so hard on--I am a proud cosponsor of that bill--but also ways that we are going to find solutions for people across this country who are raising families, trying to pay for college, trying to pay the energy bill for the month, and I think we in Congress have an incredible opportunity to get government out of the way and let America work, to unleash the innovators and the entrepreneurs around this great Nation.

Over the past couple of years, we've held dozens of town meetings, whether they're in southeastern Colorado, northeastern Colorado, the Denver metro area, the new parts of my district, talking to families who are struggling to make ends meet, people who have had to pick up a second job just to try to pay the bills.

As we talk about making life work--and I believe you said the hash tag was #makinglifework--I would love to hear from you, Mr. Speaker, and people around the country on what really does make life work for them and how we can help be a part of these solutions.

So, as a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee from a district in eastern Colorado, I have been working on policies like energy to make sure that energy continues to be an affordable option for families, an

affordable commodity, whether it's manufacturing, whether it's simply going home after work to turn the heat on during a cold winter.

I drove this morning from Yuma, Colorado, all of the way to Denver. It usually takes about 2 hours. This morning it took about 4 hours thanks to another big snowstorm. Here we are late April, and the heat is on, and what we're doing to make energy affordable so families can afford that, so that families in the middle of summer can afford to run their air conditioner and drive to the family baseball game. It is about creating opportunities for families.

We have an incredible energy renaissance in this country, a revolution, really, when you're talking about energy.

In eastern Colorado, we have seen new technologies that can produce American resources that must and have to be a part of an all-American energy plan, an all-American energy plan that will rely not on somebody thousands of miles away from us, not on somebody overseas, but right in our own backyard--our neighbors, maybe other family members, people in our communities who can produce the energy that we use each and every moment of our lives to better the lives of our families, to create the next product that will ignite an entire economy. But we can't do that unless we have an affordable energy policy. That's why an all-American energy plan is so important, and that's why it's an absolute and fundamental key to making life work for so many people across this country--what we can do with natural gas, a clean burning fuel developed and extracted right in Colorado, what we can do to use the oil, the wind power, the solar power that we are utilizing in Colorado to make life work for families.

And how does life work? I think we're all facing that each and every day. I have two kids, struggling to get from place to place, trying to make sure, whether it's our daughter's schoolwork, whether it's our son, trying to teach him how to ride the tricycle. He's young enough, we're trying to teach him that. But we all struggle each and every day, how we are, indeed, going to make life work. And part of it is energy, what we can do to create a policy in this country that will develop a cheap, abundant, affordable policy that allows businesses to grow. It's an exciting future that we face, knowing that we can do that right here in our own backyards.


Mr. GARDNER. I thank the gentleman from Indiana for coming and joining us on the floor tonight.

Mr. Speaker, as we said, there are people across the country who are joining the conversation about making life work. They're sending tweets with #makinglifework. In fact, we're hearing from people who are indeed talking about tax reform on this very issue, talking about what it means to work under a Tax Code that can be pro-job creation, that can actually lift the burden on American families by creating a fairer, flatter system.

And so whether you're a small business who's just getting started, or you're a small business that's been around for a while, the fact is the more the burden that you pay from the government, whether it's a higher income tax, or you're a subchapter S, and you're paying at the individual level, that's less money that you get to spend investing into job creation, into expanding your employees, the number of people you have working for you, the salaries that you can provide for them, the insurance, the benefits that you can provide.

And so, really, tonight's discussion about making life work is what we're doing to create a fair system that looks out for everyone and that looks out for people who are making minimum wage so that they won't be making minimum wage for long. They'll actually be getting a pay increase because their business is growing, because their salaries are able to go higher, because they're more successful in developing a product and manufacturing. And so a Tax Code that is pro-growth. Pro-growth economics can lead to that. And I know you're in a great position to lead that discussion.


Mr. GARDNER. I think making life work boils down to what you're talking about, which is the issue of fairness. What's happening to our families, our businesses, our neighbors as the debt grows, as taxes grow. The fact is it is absolutely unfair to pass on so many unanswered problems to the next generation, to pass on $52,000 worth of debt to our kids and our 18-month-old son or a 9-year-old daughter. It's unfair to them and to future generations.


Mr. GARDNER. One of the things that I hear constantly from people around my district and around the country about Making Life Work is, what we are doing to get credit to businesses who are hoping to expand and the challenges that they may face. I just, in fact, heard this through some comments on #makinglifework, people responding to the conversation that we were having, worried about credit issues, worried about what's happened to their small businesses.

I've introduced legislation that would create a small business savings account to make sure that we can incentivize people to save money and to put it directly into job creation so that they will be able to save and have some benefit for that savings by actually not paying a tax on the gain when they invest it into a savings account or some other kind of savings or investment vehicle. But it's a way to save money and put it directly into job creation.

Other people have contacted us about regulations. You mentioned regulations. And I think it goes back again to that very issue of fairness, of what we are doing to look out for people who don't have a voice and to look out--


Mr. GARDNER. I'm hearing from people who just want more independence, they want more say over their own lives. This isn't a top-down government approach, this is a bottom-up people approach, what we can do with technology to make sure that we're allowing innovation to occur and economies to grow.


Mr. GARDNER. And I hope that tonight's conversation will continue; that it's not just an hour before the House of Representatives. But this is a conversation that people will be able to talk about and continue. And that the feedback that they provide through #makinglifework will continue to come to us to talk about ways and ideas that we can truly move this country forward.

And so, Mr. Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to do this as we talk about these ideas. We've mentioned several of them here as feedback has rolled in from around the country.


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