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Public Statements

Congressional Black Caucus

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Ms. JACKSON LEE. I thank the gentleman from New York. It is a pleasure to be able to join you and my colleagues today, and I thank you for beginning your remarks today, continuing the tribute that we have given to Congressman Major Owens. He would be proud that we were here tonight speaking for the voiceless, speaking for the poor, speaking for those who need educational dollars, speaking for those who, with a little investment, would, again, be able to reach for and grab the American Dream.

I want to thank the gentleman from New York (Mr. Jeffries) for again bringing us together. We all have different responsibilities, Judiciary, Homeland Security. We are all concerned about comprehensive immigration reform, border security. It is important, however, that we give a challenge and a charge to those individuals who will be gathering to reform the budget, and I cannot thank you enough for your timeliness and your leadership on these issues.

So I rise today, joining my colleagues, and adding, again, my appreciation to the chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, Congresswoman Fudge, who, in a day or two, will be joining the Ag conference and will be raising her voice for individuals who simply want a good and decent meal. I want to thank her for her leadership of the Congressional Black Caucus.

I will repeat the words of my colleagues, and those words are that we remain, I believe, the heart and conscience for the American people whose voices, again, and whose issues may be lost in the conflicts of partisanship. The Congressional Black Caucus speaks clearly and loudly to the issue of pain suffered by so many that are poor in this country.

So tonight I want to give a sense of urgency, and I want to raise the siren. I want to have a clanging bell, a loud noise, a banging of the drums, a call to the town by the town crier that we just can't live, we cannot suffer anymore in budgetless, fundingless government that we are now in.

The President of the United States has called on Congress to do its job. The President provided great wisdom and leadership in the first beginning stages of his administration in 2009 when he wisely, through great sacrifice and criticism, presented the stimulus package to the Congress and infused needed and important dollars to create growth and jobs, some 3 million-plus jobs, closing the gap on some of the bleeding that was going on. Having built on the restoration of the auto industry, President Obama continued to build on the restoration of Wall Street. All of the prime industries that were crying out to this Nation, our President, along with the Democrats, sacrificed to do what is right for this Nation.

And, of course, as many know, it was a sacrifice for the Congressional Black Caucus, because at the same time, we knew that there were people who were suffering, but we looked to the greater good. And now we have come to ask, Is there anyone listening to the greater good?

We don't have to go very far to look and see that the size of the middle class that my friends on the other side of the aisle--Republicans--keep talking that they are for the middle class, and all we need do is to look and to be able to see its decline. The percent of households with an annual income within 50 percent of the median, they don't need any more cuts. They need dollars into education. They need dollars into R and D, research and development. They need to be able to ensure that the transportation and infrastructure of America is funded. That creates jobs. They don't need any more sequesters.

So the budget that we are about to engage in, the conference, should be a serious conference about ensuring that there is investment, because what we are suffering in the backdrop of mindless sequester continues on and on because we cannot get our friends to come to the table.

The Nation has been operating on a shrunken budget, slashed $80 billion in forced spending cuts since March 1. And in the course of that, and while the middle class is gone, 57,000 children have been taken off the rolls of Head Start, and the numbers are growing. Poor families and working families that fall into the middle class are trying strive to the middle class.

The cuts have also cut into public defenders and have cut into the justice system. The cuts have caused layoffs of lawyers. It has caused, in essence, an overturning of liberty justice.

And so in those ways, we can see pointedly the loss of the growth of the middle class.

Sequester is an across-the-board cut that does not allow the dream of Major Owens and the Congressional Black Caucus, the infusion of dollars into higher education, Head Start, pre-K, primary, and secondary, title I funding. All of these fundings that are considered discretionary are slashed and burned. I want to see the growth of the American public--training for nurses, more training for medical professionals. All of that gets slashed in the sequester.

So, Mr. Speaker, you would wonder, what has America become? And I want to thank Mr. Garamendi from California for sharing this poster. What has America become?

Like the ``Tale Two of Cities,'' they have not listened to the thoughtfulness of the Congressional Black Caucus budget that actually focuses on getting rid of the sequester so that we can not have a tale of two Americas. It hurts my heart to know that there are people in this country that are not benefiting from the greatness of the Nation.

Let me pause for a moment to make a simple statement: America is not broke. I am tired of people talking about how America is broke; a $4 trillion economy, a larger economy than the European Union that includes many countries.

The ability to service our debt, let me just say to you: I don't like debt. I don't like the deficit. But, in actuality, in a capitalistic system, part of what churns the economy is the servicing of the debt. How do you have the money to service the debt? You infuse more capital, more dollars into the economy. You begin to sensibly talk about tax reform. You raise the revenue. You pay your bills. You build new roads. You help higher education. You pay for the military. You create opportunities for people to invent and build businesses. You create access to credit. You build more homes. That is how you turn the economy.

And so, tragically, from 2009 to 2012, the fraction of economic growth for the top 1 percent--not the 99ers, but the top 1 percent--according to this resource from the University of California, 95 percent went to the top 1 percent. They were growing beyond imagination.

Let me defend the top 1 percent to say that there are people in the top 1 percent that want to give back to the Nation. Warren Buffett wants to invest back into this country. Yet the economic structure of 2009-2012, when my Republican friends were in charge, was 95 percent going to the top 1 percent.

The preceding President, President Clinton, had an economy that included a sacrificial budget, that actually had a budget that did tax reform and revisions and had revenue. Thank goodness it was at least fair. The 1 percent were getting 45 percent and the bottom 99 percent were getting 55 percent.

What is the configuration now? I might venture to say, Mr. Jeffries, that the 99 percent are getting zero and the top 1 percent may be right now at 100 percent.

So I am asking for the conference to go and work for America, not this configuration; to grow the 99 percent investment in America to be able to take the CBC budget and look at some of the tax reforms that could be utilized, to look at our job creation, which would include the maintenance and repair of public transit, highways, airports, ports, railroads, and bridges.

The Houston Metro would appreciate having the opportunity to expand and create jobs, from those who had worked on the rail lines to those who would build the railcars to those who would run it, and the opportunity for people going to work to ride on it.

Workforce development programs such as the Workforce Investment Act, programs and legislation that I have introduced in times of high unemployment to actually give those unemployed a stipend while they retrain and retrofit themselves into new jobs; veterans programs, which provide for investment in our veterans. One of the greatest gifts we could have given to the second generation of veterans was a second GI Bill that Democrats passed for the returning Iraqi and Afghan veterans. They provided opportunity.

So I simply come today with a number that, as I close, I wanted to leave. Maybe my friends in Texas will understand why this is so drastic. Because we are losing out of the gross domestic product in Texas some $15.2 billion. We are losing 153,541 jobs in the State of Texas alone, someplace where they are celebrating that they are creating jobs and the economy is growing, but the sequester is causing the loss of jobs across America.

Tomorrow, we will be standing against the SNAP cuts that will be coming on November 1. Through Mr. Obama's and the Democratic Caucus' support, we passed stimulus that gave more food money to those who are in need. Why couldn't we simply keep that going? On November 1, because we have not acted, this Congress will shut down the food for those who have gotten just a little bit to feed their families.

So I am hoping that when they go to conference, what will be on their minds as they are pledging allegiance to the flag of the United States of America is not the 1 percent, but the 99 percent, and that we will come back out of this economy and there will not be a tale of two Americas, but one America, where everyone has an opportunity, and that the model of America--united--is an investment into more than just a few people, but to a lot of people, giving them the opportunity to build this economy.

I thank the gentleman for yielding, and I thank my constituents in Houston for understanding and recognizing that we must work together to build a better Houston, a better Texas, and a better America.


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