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Hoyer: Now Is The Time to Put Our Country On A Fiscally Sustainable Path

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Published on Sep 12, 2012

"Thank you, Madam Speaker. First I want to of course associate myself with the remarks from [Rep. David] Dreier and [Rep. David] Price, who have done such terrific work in the spread of democracy, but also to lament the tragic loss of life and the courage displayed by our men and women in our foreign service and who are deployed abroad to represent the United States, its democracy and its principles.

"Madam Speaker, I regretfully rise, however, to talk about another unhappy subject. Our fiscal house is burning and in Washington we continue to play and fiddle. We have another eight, perhaps 13 days left, less than that. I don't know whether we're going to be here in October but I do know we are going to be here for a very short time this week frankly doing message bills.

"The middle class tax cut which passed the Senate lays fallow somewhere, not brought to this Floor. To assure that our middle-class citizens would understand they weren't going to get a tax cut on January 1, give them confidence, give our economy confidence to help grow our economy. We have not ensured our doctors that the payments for Medicare services to patients will in fact be available. We have not taken substantive action to set aside the sequester with a balanced plan.

"There will be a bill on sequester and that will be largely opposed on our side of the aisle because it does not provide for balance, it simply says set aside the sequester which is the direct result of the Republican policies.

"In fact, the Republicans have offered two bills on the Floor which say that sequester is the option of choice if you don't meet certain numbers. They did that in their Cut, Cap and Balance bill which was enforced - how? - through sequestration.

"We understand that sequestration is an irrational act. Why is it an irrational act? Because it is as if you have a food budget and a movie budget at home. And you have tight finances that week, that month, that year. You don't cut your food budget exactly the same as you cut your movie budget. You say we are going to forgo a movie and make sure we have healthy food on the table. That's what we ought to do. We ought to have a strategic way and a balanced way to get this deficit that is out of control, and needs to be handled, under control. And the best way to turn off the sequester is a balanced plan. But what we will see offered on this Floor is not a balanced plan but a plan which says, 'do it our way or no way.'

"Now, very frankly that's been the history of this Congress. I've served in 16 Congresses. This is the least productive congress in which I have served. Now, that view is shared by two scholars, Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein, who wrote in a book and in an op-ed: 'We've been studying Washington politics and Congress for more than 40 years and we have not seen them' - meaning the Congress of the United States -- 'this dysfunctional.' The American public share that view, of course, and our poll numbers reflect it, properly so.

"'In our past writing' Mr. Mann and Mr. Ornstein go on, 'we have criticized both parties when we believed it was warranted. Today, however, we have no choice but to acknowledge that the core of the problem lies with the Republican party. The GOP,' they went on to say, 'has become an insurgent outlier in American politics. It is ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of [its] political opposition.' And therefore unwilling to compromise. That's what our gridlock is caused by. An unwillingness to compromise.

"The Senate's passed a Farm bill. Senate passed a Farm bill which would help farmers threatened by drought. As a matter of fact, their own committee has reported out a Farm bill. But that Farm bill has not been brought to the Floor because apparently the majority of Republicans aren't for a Farm bill. So even their own bill is not brought to the Floor, much less a bipartisan-passed Farm bill passed in the United States Senate which could be passed and would get a significant number of Democratic votes, not because we believe that's exactly what we want but because we believe it's a compromise that will work for America and America's farmers.

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