Congressman Brian Higgins took to the House Floor to call out House Republican leadership on their failure to take real action to grow the American economy and create American jobs. Higgins criticized a hypocritical debt ceiling crisis, unwise austerity measures and pathetically low levels of investment in American infrastructure as impediments to economic recovery.
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Earlier this year, Congressman Higgins introduced H.R. 4352, the Nation Building Here at Home Act, which calls for a $1.2 trillion investment in U.S. infrastructure over the next 5 years and would have the potential to create 27 million jobs, add $400 billion to the economy, and drop the unemployment rate to 5.6%.
The text of Congressman Higgins’ speech is below:
The Republican Majority of this House is holding the American people and its economy hostage in a cynical ploy to keep the economy from growing and creating jobs.
In the year 2000, 12 years ago, the federal budget had a $258 billion surplus that was a direct result of having created 22 million private sector jobs under the Clinton administration. New road and bridge projects were funded and American businesses were providing the labor and equipment to help rebuild the nation’s infrastructure.
In the year 2001, the new Republican administration came in and looted a surplus they didn’t create to finance two tax cuts we couldn’t afford and two wars that took over a trillion dollars out of the American economy. They ruined the American economy by losing more jobs than in any period in the past sixty years and created a financial crisis not seen since the Great Depression. The Republican party and their failed policies took us from record surplus to record deficit.
In 2009, the Republicans handed this mess over to the current President and have vowed not to help him rebuild this nation and its economy. They have created a phony debt limit crisis that reverberated through the American economy and the financial markets. The debt ceiling crisis cost American investors $18 million and led to a downgrade of the nation’s credit rating. This debt limit crisis imposed a tax on the American people that did real and permanent damage.
Default or the threat of default will exact more economic damage on already fragile recovery. And they’re threatening to do it all again later this year. This despite the fact that the House Republican budget resolution spends $1 trillion dollars more than it takes in in revenue. The logical consequence of their budget – the Republican budget – is to raise the debt ceiling.
We need to nation build right here in America. Our nation’s roads and bridges are falling apart. You have 69,000 structurally deficient bridges in this nation. Every second of every day, seven cars drive on a bridge that is structurally deficient. The Senate and House just passed a $105 billion transportation bill to spend less than $53 billion in each of the next two years. While it is something, its weak, in fact it is pathetically weak. It will fill a few pot holes surely, but won’t reconstruct roads or bridges. It will create some jobs, but won’t put a dent in the unemployment rate.
We need real nation building at home, in America.
Congress just spent $65 billion rebuilding the roads and bridges of Iraq, a nation of 26 million people. You just spent $78 billion rebuilding the roads and bridges of Afghanistan, a nation of 30 million people. And all you could come up with is $53 billion for nation building in America, our nation, a nation of 300 million people. The American Society of Civil Engineers gives us a D grade and they and the US Chamber of Commerce agree that the poor quality of America’s infrastructure costs our economy hundreds of billions of dollars in lost growth.
To grow this economy and create jobs we need to invest in rebuilding the roads, bridges, water and sewer systems of this country. According to the New America Foundation, a 5 year, $1.2 trillion America rebuilding plan would create 27 million jobs. In the first year alone, the economy would add 5.2 million jobs, or 433,000 jobs each month, and the economy would grow by over $400 billion.
Unemployment would be reduced to 6.2% in the first year alone and 5.6% in the second year. This is a real and compelling jobs plan. The best tax policy is bringing back into the economy lost tax payers and to buy labor, materials, equipment and services from American small businesses.
Austerity didn’t work in the United States in 1937, it didn’t work in Japan in the 1990, it’s not working in Europe and the United States today. To grow the economy we need to invest and save. House Republicans need to stop whining about China and stand up for America.