America's Economy is Struggling

Date: July 20, 2010
Location: Washington, DC


Mr. BURGESS. Well, I thank the gentleman for yielding.

Of course, the gentleman is correct. You know, I believe in the American economy. I believe in the ability of the American people to recover this economy. I don't think that the United States House of Representatives, the Senate and the White House combined can keep this economy down forever, but they can give it a good shot at keeping it down longer than it needs to be; and, we all know, because of the prolonged effect of joblessness, the economy is having a tougher time recovering.

The gentleman said it so well as to the reason small- and medium-sized businesses are reluctant to add jobs right now, and I know you see the same thing in your district that I'm seeing in my district. Some things look like they're picking up a little bit--parking lots are a little fuller--but when you talk to the small business people and ask them, Are you doing a little bit better this year? they answer, Yeah, maybe a little bit.

Do you think you might add a job soon? Might you be able to take someone else into your business?

Well, I might, but I don't know what you're going to do to me in this health care bill. I still haven't figured it out. I have no idea what this financial regulatory scheme that you've passed is going to do to me. I sure can't afford the tax increases that you're going to be delivering at the end of this year. So, no, I don't think I can add a job and that, if you further do something with energy prices, I know that the future is just too uncertain, so I'll just stand pat right now. I'm doing okay, but I'm not going to be adding any jobs.

Well, that may be one or two jobs at a single business at a strip mall shopping center; but extrapolated across the larger economy, those are the jobs that should be fueling our recovery, and the activities here in Washington, DC, are what are having the dampening effect on that.

Now, today's Wall Street Journal had kind of an interesting lead editorial on the editorial page, appropriately titled, ``Stimulating Unemployment.'' It's kind of a novel approach as to how you might attack a problem of the economy.

According to the Wall Street Journal today, they talked about how Presidents typically invite Americans to appear at Rose Garden press conferences to trumpet a policy success; but yesterday, we saw what may have been a first. President Obama introduced three Americans--an autoworker, a fitness center employee and a woman in real estate--who have been out of work for so long that they underscore the failure of his entire economic program.

Going on, they say, But Mr. Obama was nonetheless obliged to concede that 18 months after his $862 billion stimulus there are still five job seekers for every job opening and that 2.5 million Americans will soon run out of unemployment benefits. Only last week, Vice President Joe Biden was hailing the stimulus for saving or creating 3 million jobs. This week, the White House says we need even more stimulus in the form of jobless checks to make up for the jobs his original stimulus spending did not create.

Here is an interesting issue. Of course, we hear over and over and over again how it's the Republicans who are obstructing the extension of unemployment insurance benefits; but realistically, there is still money left in that stimulus bill. Since the stimulus has been such a failure in creating jobs and since the money is available to pay for those unemployment benefits, that seems like a reasonable suggestion. I get calls in the office all day long that, yes, that is a reasonable suggestion. Why don't we proceed with that? Instead, we continue to pass bills where this money is just simply going to be added to the deficit.

If the money weren't just sitting there, languishing in the stimulus bill, then maybe you could see their point; but realistically, the money is there. It should be used to offset the extension of unemployment benefits

because one thing that we do know is that there is a consequence for borrowing these vast sums of money. We know that expanding the deficit to the $1.4 trillion or $1.6 trillion that we are going to see this year is ultimately money which is going to have to be borrowed; and because that money will ultimately have to be borrowed, it could raise the interest rate and could, subsequently, have an effect on inflation.

So why not do the sensible thing and spend the money that you have already allocated in the stimulus bill, which isn't doing anyone any good anyway? If you need to extend unemployment insurance, that would be the correct place to do it.

I have some other points that I'd like to share, but I'll yield back to the gentleman and hear his thoughts on that.


Mr. BURGESS. I was just going to make the point--The Wall Street Journal editorial today talks about the five applicants for every job that is available. And you know, we had in our committee today in Energy and Commerce, we had yet another hearing on the oil spill down in the Gulf of Mexico. And once again, it came up about the issue of the Secretary of Interior proposing a moratorium on drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.

Well, here we kind of reverse the situation. Here we can kill five jobs for the price of one. For every job that we destroy on the drilling rigs in the Gulf of Mexico, five jobs that are also directly related to that activity in the gulf, five jobs are lost. So the moratorium in the Gulf of Mexico in a very real way is going to affect families all up and down the gulf, families that have already been hurt by this spill, already been hurt by the fact that the Federal Government did not exercise its due diligence and oversight in leasing that well to BP in the first place.

BP, a foreign oil company that has one of the worst records as far as safety to be able to drill a well like this, with all kinds of passes and waivers on all of the NEPA regulations, wasn't required to put out a spill plan before they did this drilling.

Well, now the poor people in the gulf, they've lost their shrimping, they've lost their fishing, they've lost their tourism, and now they're going to lose what's left of their economy because of the imposition of this moratorium. At a time when we should be tasked with creating jobs, a time when we should be getting out of the way of the private sector and let the productive sector of the American society do what it does best, and that's grow and prosper and create jobs. Instead, we're putting additional impediments up there that are going to make it even more difficult for an area of the United States that's been hard hit by hurricanes, and now hard hit by this gulf oil spill.

And we are all grateful that the spill appears to be contained at the present time, but we all know this is not over. The cleanup is not over. The well is not yet shut in. They're facing some tough problems down there. And then we add to the problem by a moratorium that's ill-advised. The President's own panel said there is no reason to do this. And yet the Secretary of the Interior just pushes ahead, and would not even provide us today with any of the data that was used, any of the risk data that was used to say that there must be a moratorium, or any of the economic data that was available to him, and presumably to the President, about what the effects of this moratorium would be.

So here we are in the face of the worst recession, we got an area of the country that's really hurting, and let's see if we can't hurt 'em a little worse. It just makes no sense. I yield back to the gentleman from Texas.


Mr. BURGESS. Well, and it does get to your point of playing politics with people's jobs. I just want to say a couple of other things about the predominant Democratic agenda items that have been pushed through this House of Representatives largely on--well, in fact almost entirely on--party line votes. In fact, the only thing that has been bipartisan about these bills has been the opposition. The health care bill, financial regulatory bill, cap-and-trade, probably more Democratic votes against, and made it a truly bipartisan opposition, and very few Republican votes in favor.

But Vice President Biden over the weekend, in talking on an interview on one of the Sunday shows, said, ``Look, these are gigantic packages to deal with the problem we inherited. The vast majority of the American people and a lot of people really involved don't even know what's inside the packages.'' I assume he's talking about people involved in, like, conference committees and people involved in congressional committees who actually wrote this legislation. Going back to quote then, ``People don't know a lot of what's going on in the Recovery Act. Understandably, because this has been so much stuff that's been flowing our way.''

Well, Mr. Vice President, with all due respect, this is the problem. Because people don't know what's in this stuff, because no one bothered to take the time to bring along even public opinion while this stuff was done, as a consequence you've got people who are fearful of what is contained within this health care bill. We are now 3 months into it. The rules and regulations are being written in secret by the Department of Health and Human Services.

And this new CMS, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, director that nobody knows, the most important man in the country that no one ever heard of, Donald Berwick, it's no wonder that people are of necessity concerned. They're concerned for their own survival because they don't know what the implications are for these big things that we've already passed. And yes, Mr. Vice President, people are confused by the stimulus bill because, as Mr. Brady pointed out, there's so much stuff in there that was absolutely unnecessary, had nothing to do with stimulating the economy.

I remember one morning in our Joint Economic Committee where it was revealed that there were so many jobs created in Arizona's Ninth Congressional District. Well, that was news to everyone because Arizona's Ninth Congressional District hasn't even been created yet. It may in the reapportionment after the census, but right now it doesn't exist. They stop at number eight. So is it any wonder that people have lost faith with their government's ability to do the things necessary to help this economy recover?

It has certainly been educational to sit on that Joint Economic Committee to hear the testimony like we heard last week, all the happy talk coming from the administration that things are great, it's the recovery summer. I don't think so. Have you been out beyond the confines of Washington, DC to look at what's happening to real people and real people's lives?

I know the gentleman has a number of facts and charts that he wants to share with us, so I will leave it to him at this point, but I did want to come and share with you some of the thoughts I had on this very important topic that I am so grateful that you brought up tonight.