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Floor Speeches

Agriculture Appropriations Act, 2012

Mr. PASCRELL. Mr. Chairman, I believe we are broke, but we're morally broke, that's how we're broke. Let's be straight here.

   What's our vision for America? That's got to be the barometer. What do we want this country to be in the future? We can say we certainly don't want it to be fiscally broke, but no one comes to this well with clean hands. This is something we should be sitting down and talking about together, how can we solve America's problems.

   So what's our vision? It may be a balanced budget, our vision; I could support that. It may be cutting waste and fraud; well, that sounds good, we should all be supporting that. It may be to get Americans back to work. Over 14 million are still unemployed. And the underemployed. It may be to halt the loss of our homes like we did on the Western frontier 150 years ago when people worked together to end those foreclosures. My vision does not include hurting our most vulnerable children and seniors just to make a point. You heard the gentleman from Maryland talk earlier about how little this means in bringing down the deficit for 1 year or 10 years. We've got our priorities screwed up.

   So yes, we want a balanced budget. Isn't it interesting that the last President who balanced the budget was a Democratic President? Yes, we want business investment. And isn't it interesting that in the past four decades the only President that reached over a 10 percent increase in business investment was a Democratic President? Bill Clinton; almost three times more than Ronald Reagan. Check your facts. We need a fact check here, a fact check.

   The last 4 years, the number of children affected has grown from 12.4 million to 17 million. Have we no responsibility for that? In my district, 109,000 constituents suffer from food insecurity, only half of whom are eligible for Federal food aid programs. What do the other half do? Yet, here we are discussing cuts.

   And I understand neither party is privy to virtue on these issues, but you cannot tell me we can't rise above if we have a vision of America that encompasses everyone, not just some and not just the few. The long-term effects of a child struggling with hunger does not add up to any real savings. If a child is hungry, he cannot learn. A child who can't learn will not succeed in school. A child without an education will have difficulty finding a job.

   We know the records of those who are unemployed. And the records of how many years they are in school are greatly and essentially connected to how many years they have in school, and that tells you how many people are unemployed.

   The children affected by these cuts that you're talking about in the Agriculture bill are our future. If they go hungry today, they will not be ready for tomorrow.

   I simply disagree, with all due respect, with the other side's logic behind these cuts. It's shortsighted, and we cannot simply cut the safety net while people are still in that net--seniors, children, the working poor. It doesn't make sense. What have we become as a Nation?

   We're not asking for handouts or giveaways. We are talking about people who are working, and many of them are poor. There are many of those, and it took a Republican President to recognize it. The Earned Income Tax Credit was something that your side created. So who would yet take away the incentive for people to keep working?

   The cuts that you have proposed to the Food and Drug Administration in this bill are $572 million below the President's request. This means fewer inspectors and fewer inspections, plain and simple. Oh, I forgot. That's the idea in this age of anti-regulation. So what we do want to do is go back to 2008. Let's go back to where we were. I say no. I say we are better than that--we are better than 2008--and if we work together, we can get over that hump.

   Mr. Chairman, I yield back the balance of my time.


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