“….Uh, I’ve talked to a lot of business owners in the fourth district that tell me that they would like to expand their business, they would like to open up a second location, they’d like to hire more workers, but, they’re concerned if there’s gonna to be another recession because of all the debt we have….”
That’s interesting, I thought businesses made the decision to expand based on demand for what they produce like when, you know, consumers spend money to buy their products, not because the business owner lies awake at night worrying about the national debt.
Rep. Vicky Hartzler (r): town hall in Blue Springs, part 1 (April 29, 2011)
This is the continuation of the transcript of Representative Vicky Hartzler’s (r) town hall in Blue Springs, Missouri on Thursday, April 28, 2011:
Representative Vicky Hartzler (r): So how many would agree with this? We have a debt crisis in our country. Raise your hand. Most people. Okay. I think so. And several really smart think so. This is the co-chair of President Obama’s commission. He says, the debt is like a cancer. It’s truly going to destroy our country from within. The director of CBO [Congressional Budget Office] said, uh, that, uh, the fiscal policy’s on an unsustainable path. I think you and I would know that. Any time you borrow forty-two cents out of a dollar you know you’re, you can’t keep doing that. Um, to an extent that it can’t be solved with minor tinkering…
…Now, what impact is this having on us? Well, I’d like to just share my opinion in at least three areas. And one is, it’s impacting jobs, uh, two, I think it’s impacting our national security, uh, and three, I think it’s impacting our, our children’s future. There, so.
How does it impact jobs? Well, here’s what the CEO of Honeywell said, uh, the seeds of the next recession have already been planted. The debt burden, accumulate over the next ten years, will sink us. There’s a lot of uncertainty out there in the job market, in business. Uh, I’ve talked to a lot of business owners in the fourth district that tell me that they would like to expand their business, they would like to open up a second location, they’d like to hire more workers, but, they’re concerned if there’s gonna to be another recession because of all the debt we have. Uh, they’re concerned because what they’re, Washington is doing, basically, and what, what they’re taxes are and if their taxes gonna be raised. If their, what their electric bill is gonna be ’cause last year they were proposing the cap and tax which would have doubled the energy bill, uh, with their health care costs, with last year’s passage of the health care bill health care costs are skyrocketing even more, if that’s possible. And, so, because of that they’re not hiring. And that just breaks my heart because on the other hand I talk to some people in the fourth district who are saying, I’m looking for a job. Probably all of us in here know people who are looking for work. And, it’s, it’s sad. You got business owners want to expand, you got people needing job, but because of the debt, because of all this, uh, it’s not happening. So that’s, uh, I think incentive, if nothing else for us to start reining in our debt so we can get people back to work. Ben Bernanke, if you like him or not, he kind of said the same thing. Unless we as a nation make a strong commitment to fiscal responsibility in the longer run we’re still, we’re gonna have neither financial stability nor healthy economic growth.
Another way this debt is threatening us threatening us, besides in job growth, is our national security. And this is probably the most sobering part for me. Uh, we can see the changes of who owns our debt. Nineteen seventy, when I was younger [laughter], um, only five percent of our debt was held by foreign countries. The rest was owned by the United States, you and I, citizens. I know when I was born my grandma and granddad bought me twenty-five dollar savings bond. Maybe some of you had that. And, uh, we as American citizens bought savings bonds and treasury bills and things and so Americans, uh, we owned the debt. Nineteen percent in nineteen ninety, but now, forty-seven percent of our, uh, debt, not only has the debt gone up, but it’s being held by foreign countries. And who are those countries? You have any guess who our number one creditor is? [voices: “China.”] I knew you were a smart group when I walked in the room. You are. That’s, yep. Twenty nine point two percent of our foreign debt is owned by China. And twenty percent is owed to China, uh, Japan. Now, of course, Japan’s a friend, but, you know what my first thought was when I heard about the earthquake? I’d seen this slide. I thought, oh my goodness, I hope they don’t call in their debt. They need money over there to rebuild. Where are we gonna get this, I don’t know how much twenty percent is, I’d have to do a little math, uh, the total debt and all that, but, what, what are we gonna do since we don’t have extra money? We’re borrowing forty-two cents on every dollar anyway. Let’s just go to China and borrow some more money from China to pay Japan. That reminds me of some, uh, people I, I’ve known who’ve, uh, had an awful time, they get carried away on the credit cards. I don’t know if you know anybody, but, get so extended that they get the cash out of one credit card to go pay the minimum balance on the other credit card. Uh, the little, you know, that’s, you can’t do that very long or you’re gonna go bankrupt. So, this is concerning.
I’m very concerned about China in many ways. Uh, on foreign, uh, on, uh, on Armed Services Committee I’ve heard some, uh, sobering things, some I can’t share, but the things I can share is this. Their spending this year are twelve percent of their debt, of their, excuse me, their national budget on national defense. They’re building up their defense. They are right now constructing thirteen nuclear subs, we’re constructing one. Two months ago they just, uh, introduced their first version of their stealth fighter aircraft, kind of like our B-2, it’s a, you can’t see it. A month ago they introduced a twelve hundred mile aircraft carrier, bunk, busting bomb. Now, that’s almost getting to the range of Guam and stuff. Uh, trying to think if there’s something else. I mean, that’s bad, I think that’s all I can share. But, what are they doing? I don’t know. But I just know they’re doing it with a lot of our money. And here’s a sobering, uh, statistic. With just the interest that we pay every week to China on the debt we owe them they would have enough money to buy three strike fighters with fifty million dollars left over. You know, when I was a kid my, uh, parents taught me proverb which you probably are familiar with, that the borrower is servant to the lender. You heard that? And I think of that when I think of China. It’s like, doesn’t make me sleep well at night when you think about that, that we are so beholden to China. It impacts our negotiating power with them, too.
You probably know they’re, they’re stealing our intellectual property so much. Um, our American companies go over there and then they download their secrets and stuff. And so, say our President goes over and tries to negotiate or talk to their president, you don’t have near the leverage when you’re talking to somebody owns all your debt. So, I think that’s one reason Admiral Mike Mullen, who’s the Chairman of Joint Chiefs, Chief of Staff, last July said something pretty profound when he said, I think the biggest threat we have to our national security is our national debt. That surprised a lot of people. Some people thought that it was, uh, would sa
id, you know, who knows, Iran, North Korea or something better. But you stop and think about it, if we go bankrupt as a country and don’t have the money we can’t buy any airplanes or whatever we need to defend ourselves. Plus, we lose that negotiating power. The more debt we have the more beholden we become to other countries. It makes it more difficult in negotiating, too., so you don’t have to wars.
Anyway, there’s a lot of reasons to rein in our debt. If you’re not convinced yet, if, if national security or jobs, uh, our children’s futures is, I believe, at stake. Uh, my husband and I have a twelve year old daughter and , uh, I, I know a lot of you probably have grandkids and kids and that’s probably why you’re out here tonight instead of mowing your grass. It’s because, concerned about the future. I just have a question, I was curious, I been asking people across the fourth district this week, uh, two questions. Um, one, how many of you believe that your generation had more opportunity, more freedom, uh, more, higher standard of living than the generation before? Would you raise your hand. Okay. All right, good. Now, here’s the second one, just curious, how many of you really believe that next, the next generation will have more opportunity, more freedom, more, higher standard of living than you’ve had. Wow. [laugh] I’m glad you’re optimistic. [inaudible] I hope so. [voice, inaudible] Yeah, that’s right, thank you. It depends on what we do now. You’re so right [….]. I think that, uh, no matter what, and this, this whole debt crisis issue, it’s a bipartisan issue. Uh, it, it’s not, you know, one way or the other, both Democrats and Republicans have spent too much money in Washington for too long. I mean, that’s the bottom line. And we haven’t gotten here overnight. It’s taken a lot of years, uh, everybody, spending too much, spending money we don’t have. So, now, you and I are here at this time in history and now we have to decide what we’re gonna do as we move forward. And I’m with you, [….], I think we still can turn things around and change things. But, I think we’d better get started soon [laugh] is my, my thought on that.
We have a “debt crisis” because dubya gave a windfall tax break to the top two percent, thereby increasing the distribution of wealth upward, and significantly decreasing revenue.
Uh, this is a sobering quote, I won’t read it all, but this guy, uh, is basically saying if we don’t change things our children’s future is gonna be a lot duller and they’re not gonna have opportunities. At least that’s what he thinks, so, anyway. How many of you would agree with this statement? We have a debt crisis because Washington spends too much, not because Washington taxes too little. [voice: “Amen.”] Okay. [laugh] All right. Good. Because this is what you’re gonna hear a lot about the next few months. Uh, there’s two views on this. How do we balance the budget, how do we get out of debt? Uh, I , I believe we need to be lettin’ people keep more of their money and put it in to the economy. Uh, and let businesses keep more of their money so they can hire more workers and turn things around. But there’s other people who, oops, other people who think that, uh, including our president, that we need to raise taxes as a way to balance the budget. So, uh, you’re gonna hear a lot of that. But, I’m on the side of let’s, let’s cut spending, let’s not raise taxes.
This is the proj, trajectory according to the, uh, CBO [Congressional Budget Office], of if we do, don’t do anything where our, the spending trajectory. Um, and, you know, taxes would have to follow that if we wanted to try and do that. I don’t think anybody wants to spend that many taxes.
Representative Vicky Hartzler’s (r) “crazy chart” which, interestingly enough, only goes to 2007. Why is that?
[red emphasis added]
This is a crazy chart and it’s not really that complicated. It’s just making a point that throwing more federal money into the system does not create jobs. Last year we had the stimulus package and, and they borrowed more money from China and tried programs and it was supposed to bring down unemployment to eight percent and, as you know, it, it went up, in fact. And you can see, over years, this is from nineteen seventy-one to two thousand seven, a chart of when the federal government spends, that’s the navy blue line, and how many private jo, private sector jobs are created. And they’re almost opposite. Whereas this, the more private investment that is made the more private jobs. It’s almost, you know, it’s a direct correlation there, so. That [inaudible] backs up, which I think let business owners keep more of their money and let them hire people, rather than have the federal government try to do it.
This is what you get when your chart goes beyond 2007, you know, for an additional four years: The Employment Situation in March (2011) “…In addition to the increases last month, the estimates of private sector job growth for January (now +94,000) and February (now +240,000) were revised up significantly. Overall payroll employment rose by 216,000 in March. Payroll employment grew in almost every sector. Solid employment increases occurred in professional and business services (+78,000), education and health services (+45,000), leisure and hospitality (+37,000), wholesale and retail trade (+31,800), and manufacturing (+17,000). Local government experienced a decline of 15,000, and has shed jobs in 16 of the past 17 months….”
Where is all this spending going, coming from, this trajectory? Well, it’s what we call, all, the main programs that are auto pilot. By auto pilot, means Congress usually doesn’t debate ’em every year. They were passed years ago, they’re just on auto pilot, they just keep going and going and going, and they’re getting bigger and bigger and bigger. So, what are they? Uh, well, they’re the main ones that most elected officials are afraid to say because they’re afraid they won’t get reelected. So, I’ll whisper it. [whisper] Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security are the main, main ones. But, you know, uh, we’re, I’m gonna share with you, uh, a minute the proposal that I voted for on your behalf that we passed out of the House a couple weeks ago that seeks to reform these programs to save them for future generations. Plus, at the same time, reduces their overall cost. And I think we need more people in Washington, D.C. who are more concerned with doing the right thing rather than trying to be reelected. And so, there’s several of us like that and we’re ready to do that.
Here’s just three of ’em, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, see, they’re expected to take every, all of it, uh, in just a few years down the road. Social Security is really not, um, it’s growing, but not as fast as, as these others. Medicare is the main one. And why is Social Security, we’ll start with Social Security, why is it, you know, consuming more of, I think this is common sense, you guys, you know, probably figured this out, Americans are living longer, more seniors receiving benefits and birth rates aren’t keeping up.
Uh, this is a slide you’ve probably seen, it’s been around a long time. It’s showing the change in the number of workers paying into Social Security, uh, for every recipient. Nineteen fifty, uh, sixteen and a half workers, uh, this year, it’s two thousand eleven, so it’s probably a little less than three workers for every recipient. So, that is, that is one of the issues there.
Let me go back, though. Uh, this one, with Paul Ryan, the budget chair, he, he brought up, I think, a good point, he says it real
ly wouldn’t be that hard to, to fix Social Security. It’s, it’s, it’s the easiest of these three to fix because it’s a, uh, defined contribution program and a defined benefit program. So you could tw, make a few tweaks on either end, um, and those could be lots of things, but, it could be balanced fairly easily. So, it’s not rocket science, it can be done, and it should be done to preserve it so, uh, it’ll be there when, uh, when children, you know, our children and grandchildren get there.
Now, Medicare and Medicaid, uh, you know, they’re going up because health care. Everybody knows that, right? Health care is skyrocketing, the costs. Just the costs. Aging population leading to record Medicare enrollment. Uh, this number is, before I came here, this time, D.C., they told me two weeks ago that ten thousand of us baby boomers are joining Medicare and Social Security a day in our country now. How many of us are baby boomers? Raise your hand. And I’m one of ’em. Oh, a lot of us. [laugh] Okay. By the way, I’m on the younger end of the baby boom, I just wanted to clarify that. But, anyway. Yeah, there’s ten thousand of us a day entering the system, so you could imagine, between that and escalating health care costs it’s, uh, kind of like a giant Pacman. It’s, it’s consuming more and more, trajectory is just off the charts, if we don’t make any changes to the program.
As far as Medicaid you probably know that’s the, uh, medical program for low income Americans. And, uh, not only does it have the same health care costs, but also the economic downturn is leading to more people being enrolled and that’s part of the issue in that.
But, anyway, now, if we don’t do anything it’s not good. Medicare’s expected to go broke in nine years, was a quote I heard in, in D.C. I wanted to pass on to you. The Social Security, they say if you don’t do something there, uh, the Social Security benefits would be cut by twenty-two percent, potentially, in a few years. [voice: “When.”] So, there’s some issues there.
But, we in the House have put forth a plan to save and strengthen these programs and at the same time help reduce the overall cost and the debt. And, so, I wanted to give you just a few of the principles behind our plan. And, I’ve learned everything Washington, D.C. has a fancy name. I mean, it doesn’t matter who introduces a bill, you got to have a fancy name. So, this is the [exaggerated] Path to Prosperity plan, but. Whoops, hey, there we go. The main thing I want you to know is that we’re not proposing any changes for current seniors. How many of you are fifty-five and older? Okay, okay. If you raised your hand nothing would change. If you don’t remember anything else [voice, “So, so what?”], please take that with you because that’s not what you’re gonna hear from some people. Some people are just flat out lying about it. I, the last week I was there I had the privilege of, of presiding over the House. You know, [Speaker] John Boehner is there lots of times, but the rest of the day, uh, when, there’s certain times of day where you can go down and give a speech, a one minute speech and then they have a five minute speech session. So, that’s why if you ever, has anybody ever watched C-SPAN? Okay, if you see people speaking it looks like nobody else is there. It’s because nobody else is there. [laughter] They’re, they’re totally doing that just to speak, uh, to you, uh, from C-SPAN and to get on record, uh, their thoughts or whatever they want to share….
The charts from the Center for Budget Priorities and Policy (CBPP) and on Private Payroll Employment from 2008 to 2011 (White House) were not a part of Representative Hartzler’s (r) presentation and are used here to refute her statements.
Transcript of the remainder of Representative Hartzler’s town hall presentation and the question and answer session which followed will follow in subsequent posts.