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Mr. DONNELLY. First, I wish to thank the Capitol Hill police and the Secret Service for their bravery, their heroism, and their work, not only yesterday but every day, to keep this Capitol safe and to keep the people in it safe. We are in their debt.
The people of Indiana all want jobs. We want to go to work. We want and we know the dignity that comes with a good day's labor and the chance to take care of our family. The people in Indiana have told me time after time, and they have said it very clearly: Joe, focus on jobs, focus on the basics.
I couldn't be prouder of my home State. Every day I am thankful I have the amazing privilege to represent all Hoosiers in the Senate. But our economy in Indiana isn't as strong as we would like it to be. The national unemployment rate is 7.3 percent; Indiana, 8.1. Indiana's median household income declined 13.2 percent from 2000 to 2012 and it lags behind the national average. We have dropped to 40th among States in per capita income. We have so much work to do in my home State and in our country.
As you know, I am an optimist by nature, but I am incredibly disheartened by what I have seen in Washington recently. Some in Congress are playing a game of chicken with our jobs, with our economy, and with our future. Because these folks haven't gotten their way, thousands of Hoosiers are furloughed and are not receiving paychecks, the paychecks that help them feed their families, pay for college, and invest their hard-earned money in the local-run businesses.
Many of the good people at the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Crane, IN, who keep our troops in Afghanistan and around the world safe, were sent home recently. They can't do their critical work that keeps our Nation safe.
The demands of a few here have caused the scientists at the Centers for Disease Control to be unable to go to work. These actions have also caused many of the patriots at Fort Wayne's Air National Guard Station and Grissom Air Reserve Base and at Terre Haute to have their work and their operations idled.
We are now at a point in the debate where some are putting our economy at risk simply to advance their own political agendas. These folks are shutting down operations across our Nation and in my beloved home State, and that hurts our still recovering economy.
We have so much work to do to move Indiana and our Nation forward, and Congress isn't helping. We talk all the time about providing certainty to our business friends. Hoosier businesses thrive on hard work, creativity, and teamwork. They also deserve a government that provides certainty, a steady hand in choppy seas. They don't need a government that creates the storm.
Most folks back home think Congress can play some role in improving the economy, even if that role is simply not to make things worse. But over the past year, Congress has made and continues to make things much more difficult. It is embarrassing that the actions of some in Congress these days are now the greatest obstacle to future job creation in our country.
America's economic confidence is measured daily by polling by Gallup. It is currently at minus 22. It matches the low for the year. It is worth pointing out that the other low for the year happened right before sequestration took effect in March--another problem, another self-inflicted wound caused by Congress.
The implementation of sequester cuts, which is what happened when Congress proved itself unable to make the tough decisions that Congress was sent here to make, has led to job losses and furloughs, so many families don't have as much to make ends meet.
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office reported we could lose up to 1.6 million jobs next year if these across-the-board cuts continue. Further, a number of economists have concluded that Congress significantly reduced this country's economic growth because we failed to replace the cuts with something smarter. Economic growth is a fancy term for people going to work and people who have jobs.
The American people are losing confidence in their economy because of Congress. Here we are 6 months later, 4 days into a government shutdown, 13 days away from defaulting on our debt. History tells us government shutdowns are terrible for the economy and terrible for jobs.
If we look at the last time the Federal Government shut down in 1995 and 1996 for 27 days, Congress put hundreds of thousands of people out of work, with $1.4 billion in damages, and consumer confidence took a double-digit dip. Back then our country's economy was in a stronger place than it is today and it recovered a little bit more quickly. This government shutdown is damaging our economy at a time where it is very fragile.
However, this government shutdown has damaged our economy, but a default on our bills as we look forward would be absolutely devastating. What happens if we fail to raise the debt limit and if we stop paying our bills? That is what the debt limit is. It is our obligation to pay our bills.
While it is completely unprecedented, well-respected economists warn it could send us right back into a tailspin. We are still recovering from the last recession. At a time when Hoosiers are trying to get back to work and take care of our families, Congress's inability to work together is making it so much more difficult. Congress is not helping and is actually hindering job creation and economic growth.
This is no way to run a country. I stand ready to work with anyone in a commonsense way out of this train wreck. We must find a way to stop hurting the economy and to actually help the people who have made this country such a great place.
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