A Missed Opportunity

Floor Speech

Date: Feb. 8, 2023
Location: Washington, DC


Mr. JOHNSON of Louisiana. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman from California (Mr. Valadao) for handling this Special Order tonight and bringing our colleagues here to talk about the reality of this State of the Union Address that we experienced here less than 24 hours ago.

I appreciate what you said, and I thought it was appropriate that you brought as your guest a constituent who is in the energy industry because you explained how domestic energy production has been decimated by this President and his administration and how it is having an untold cost on the American people.

But I wanted to begin with a quote, and I want to encourage my colleagues to listen carefully to these words of warning. This is really important.

``The tsunami of debt created by the policies of this administration has to go somewhere. . . .

``But as the rest of the world copes with the waves of U.S. debt, we are now all in the same leaky boat. There is just so much of our debt other nations want to hold. The more of it they accumulate, the closer we are to the day when they will not want any more.

``When that happens, slowly or rapidly, our interest rates will go up, the value of their U.S. bonds will drop, and we will all have big problems. We need both more awareness and more understanding of this fundamental threat to our economic well-being and the global economy.

``But the roots of that threat lie in the disastrous policies of this administration.

``Because this massive accumulation of debt was predicted, because it was foreseeable, because it was unnecessary, because it was the result of willful and reckless disregard for the warnings that were given and for the fundamentals of economic management, I am voting against the debt limit increase.''

Now, do you want to guess who said that? It was not Speaker McCarthy. It was not Leader McConnell. In fact, it wasn't any Republican.

That quote that I just read to you is from Joe Biden himself when he was a Senator in 2006. If he was honest, he would have used that same language right up here last night, but he didn't. Of course, he wasn't honest.

By the way, in addition to his vocal opposition when he was a Senator in 2003 and 2006, Senator Joe Biden joined Senate Democrats in opposing clean debt limit increases.

In 2004, he missed the vote, but he said publicly he would have opposed it there, as well. So three times as a Senator he opposed the debt limit increase.

Well, he is singing a completely different tune now. Everybody heard it.

Mr. Speaker, President Biden's address to the Nation last night was a missed opportunity. Our country is mired in crisis after crisis of the President's own making: at home, at our border, abroad.

Simply put, the President's rhetoric last night didn't match the reality that most Americans have been experiencing since he took office 2 years ago.

John Adams said, ``Facts are stubborn things,'' and the actual state of our Union is more accurately summed up by one word: decline.

Let's talk about just a couple of those facts very quickly. Just a snapshot. When President Joe Biden took office, we had peace through strength.

We had American energy independence--actually, dominance. We had lower consumer prices, and we had inflation at about 1.4 percent.

But since he took over 2 years ago, now we have war through weakness, we have foreign energy dependence, we have sky-high consumer prices, and the inflation rate in December was 6.5 percent.

Now, you tell me. Are you better off today than you were 2 years ago?

No. And that is what the polls indicate.

Most Americans say and respond to the polls that they are doing worse off financially, and in many other respects, since this President took over.

Right now, prices are still rising, crime is rising, drug overdoses are rising, illegal immigration is rising, and our country's leadership looks embarrassed and weak on the world stage.

Republicans urged President Biden to take advantage of the state of the Union to chart a new direction, to get us out of this mess, to reverse the policies that have gotten us into this, to accept responsibility for the declining state of our country, and pledge to do better.

But you know what? He didn't do that.

He wouldn't have been the first American President to seek a reset. Presidential resets are common. They are often necessary, but he wouldn't acknowledge that last night. He did the opposite.

The reality is that families right now across this country, in my district and in all of our districts--everybody knows this--are still paying more for just about everything, including food and gasoline and electricity and rent, in every category.

According to all the polls, they can feel it, regardless of what this President wants to say from this podium in this Chamber.

Here is what we need to do. We need to curb the wasteful government spending that is raising the price of groceries and gas and cars and housing and growing our national debt, and we need to increase take- home pay.

We need to create good-paying jobs and bring stability to the economy through pro-growth policies that will enliven our economy and broaden the pathway out of poverty for more people, but that is not what this President is suggesting.

You know what their solution was last night and every day here?

More government growth and more spending.

Does anybody really think that our national debt continuing to climb unchecked is an acceptable outcome in this year's debt ceiling talks?

Joe Biden himself didn't think that. At least he didn't when he was a Senator. If no one thinks that, then let's start doing something about it.

President Biden could have started last night, but he didn't. It was a missed opportunity. I think it was shameful, and I think the American people know better.

I am grateful to my friend from California for yielding the time, and I will turn it back over to him.

One of the things that the President said last night was that he wants to source materials from the U.S.; and as we have talked a little bit about energy, we have seen pictures of parts of the Amazon rainforest demolished so they can continue to drill wells over there.

So we are importing, we are damaging environments, and we are not doing it here in the U.S., creating American jobs doing it in the best way we possibly can in the world, delivering clean energy for our American people. It is totally frustrating, so I appreciate the comments from Mr. Johnson.