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Mr. ROSKAM. I thank Chairman Ryan for yielding.
Mr. Speaker, the gentlewoman from California said that we needed to
use agnostic scrutiny when we are evaluating these. I think it is a
little bit ambitious to have a roomful of agnostics when we are all
true believers. We all come in with an agenda.
An agnostic, Mr. Speaker, would look at the four things in the bill
that we are contemplating today and would say of all four of these
things: Surely these are not going to get caught up and swept away in
tax reform; surely, it is not going to be how we are treating food
charities; surely, it is not going to be how we are dealing with
conservation easements; surely, it is not how we are treating IRA
contributions to charities; and surely, it is not trying to make
private foundations and give them a sure footing. Surely, these are the
things we can all agree on based on agnostic scrutiny.
Did you notice something, Mr. Speaker? There is nobody on the other
side of the aisle who has stood up today and said: The food charity
thing? Disaster. I'm against that. Or: Conservation easements?
Ridiculous. Look into that a little bit more. Or: The IRA
contributions? Be careful there. Or: Private foundations, getting them
all squared away? I'm against it. Not one person said that.
So what was their argument? They wrap themselves up in process. But
by wrapping themselves up in process, they have opened themselves up to
criticism, because if we had gone a different route, if the chairman
had taken a different path, they would have said: Chairman Ryan, why
don't you start on things where there is bipartisan agreement? And here
the chairman is bringing bills to the floor that have been
enthusiastically, actively supported, Mr. Speaker, by our friends on
the other side of the aisle. Why have they supported them? Because they
are good ideas. This is where there is an incredible amount of common
There have been some false arguments made on the other side that are
just not that persuasive, and the argument by the gentleman from Texas
created the impression that if you vote ``yes'' on this, then we are
not going to be able to afford meat inspectors. We are not going to be
able to have bridges or a cure for cancer. It is somehow out of our
reach. Spare me.
Mr. Speaker, I am reminded at times like this of a letter that Thomas
Jefferson wrote in 1790 to a man named Charles Clay. I am going to give
you three lines from this letter that I have committed to memory
because I think it deeply resonates where most Americans are when they
look at our House today.
Thomas Jefferson wrote this to Charles Clay. He said:
The ground of liberty is to be gained by inches. We must be
content what we can get from time to time and eternally press
forward for what is yet to get. It takes time to persuade men
even to do what is for their own good.
Mr. Speaker, that is Jefferson's admonition--no stranger to vision,
no stranger to the big picture as the author of the Declaration of
We don't walk away from tax reform, the aspiration that we all have,
but it is to say: Look, if we are going to be agnostically scrutinizing
these things, even an agnostic would say this ought not to be caught in
We ought to vote ``yes'' for this bill and move it along.
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