Ms. LORETTA SANCHEZ of California. Mr. Speaker, the President has sent his budget proposal to the Congress, and for the next few weeks we will debate it, but let's keep to the facts in debating it.
There have been partisan attacks that claim that President Obama's budget will raise taxes on small businesses. In fact, the President's budget eliminates the capital gains tax for individuals on the sale of certain small business stocks and makes the research and experimentation tax credit permanent.
These proposals will spur investment and innovation to help small businesses. These are the job-creating engines of our economy, and nowhere else but in California can you see them so prominently working in this economy to build those jobs we so desperately need. Ninety-seven percent of all small businesses will not see their taxes increase in 2010.
What else is in the budget for small businesses? Twenty-eight billion dollars in loan guarantees to expand credit availability for small businesses at a time when it is really needed and support for the $1.1 billion in direct disaster loans for businesses, homes, and homeowners.
Mr. POE of Texas. Mr. Speaker, over the last few years, numerous reporters in the United States have been subpoenaed about their confidential sources.
Law enforcement, namely prosecutors, hear about a story that a news reporter covers regarding scandals, corruption, crime, or coverups, and then has the reporter subpoenaed to testify before a grand jury. The purpose of the grand jury investigation is to find out who gave such information to the reporter, with the goal to bring the confidential source before the grand jury to testify.
Most States protect journalists from having to reveal that source. However, there is no Federal law to shield the identity of confidential sources. The protection of the source's identity is important because, without such a guarantee, sources would be fearful of possible reprisals if they revealed the information. Thus, the public would never know about the information.
With a few exceptions, prosecutors should not depend on reporters and their sources to root out crime. If whistle-blowers and reporters are protected by a shield law, the public's right to know will be enhanced with the free flow of information.
And that's just the way it is.
Mr. CARNAHAN. Mr. Speaker, I'm proud of the work Congress and the President have accomplished in just over 2 months: Expanded health care for 11 million children; assistance to families to maintain their health coverage through COBRA; funds to help States prevent cuts to Medicaid; and investments in safe and cost-saving electronic health record technology.
Some naysayers claim that the President and Congress are doing too much too soon. But we cannot fix our economy without fixing our broken health care system. And that's why I'm here today, to mark Cover the Uninsured Week with a call to action, action to achieve comprehensive health care reform, not next year, not in 4 years, but this year.
We have over 45 million individuals who lack health coverage in this country. Fifty-six billion dollars in unpaid bills are driving up the cost of insurance for everyone.
Reforming health care will strengthen our middle class, help businesses create jobs and be competitive, rebuild the economy and put our Nation on a sound financial footing far into the future.
Now is the time for comprehensive health care reform.
Mr. GARRETT of New Jersey. During the last campaign, Hillary Clinton said that she had a million good ideas. She probably never thought that she would be outbid by this new administration that has a million bad ideas that are going to cost American taxpayers literally trillions of dollars.
This current budget spends too much, taxes too much, and borrows too much. It spends too much, and it's coming up to $2.3 trillion more than the White House even estimated a short time ago.
It taxes too much because every hardworking American household across this country is going to see their taxes go up by over $3,000. While they're struggling with paying their bills, their taxes will be rising.
It borrows too much because it's going to increase the debt on taxpayers across this country. Right now it stands at about $35,000 per capita. It's going to double in 8 years to around $70,000.
You know, Americans were voting for a change. I think at the end they were really hoping for something better than this. [Page: H3758]
Mr. BUTTERFIELD. Mr. Speaker, the recession is real.
In my home State of North Carolina, we have 100 counties. All of them experienced an increase in unemployment during the month of January. Seventy-two of the 100 counties had a 10 percent or higher rate of unemployment. Across my district, 23 counties, we now have an average unemployment rate of 11.2 percent. The highest county is 15.6 percent. That is unacceptable.
These numbers are staggering, and people are hurting. We must remember, Mr. Speaker, that we have met these challenges before, and we will meet this challenge now. North Carolina will benefit from about $6 billion as part of the stimulus package, which will create or save 105,000 much-needed jobs.
I am further encouraged by the efforts to ease the credit squeeze afflicting small businesses by buying up to $15 billion of securities that are linked to small business. This is an important step, Mr. Speaker, in encouraging lenders to make more money available to entrepreneurs and small businesses.
I encourage the President to continue with his economic recovery.
Mr. PITTS. Mr. Speaker, as you can see here in this graph, what the President called gyrations of the stock market, in February of 2008, a year ago, the Dow Jones Industrial Average sat at just 13,000 points.
Just before Congress passed the so-called rebate check package worth $168 billion of borrowed money, Speaker Pelosi said, ``This package gets money into the hands of Americans struggling to make ends meet ..... and stimulates our slowing economy.''
Yet since then, the market has lost nearly half its value. That's trillions of dollars in wealth wiped out in 1 year from retirement accounts and the savings of hardworking families across America.
The rebate package a year ago was just the first in many attempts to borrow and spend our way out of this situation. Here we have the $300 billion housing bailout, $200 billion for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, $700 billion in TARP funds. Look at the drop after that: $14 billion, auto bailout; $787 billion, stimulus, before the market dropped.
Our actions have economic consequences.
Mr. PERLMUTTER. Mr. Speaker, I listened to my friends on the other side of the aisle. The problem is they forget, and they're kind of revising history. It's the Republican President and a Republican Congress that drove this country into the ditch financially and economically, and what we've got to do is change the course of this Nation.
That's what the President is undertaking to do, by providing small business with tax credits, with assistance as to funding of their particular projects, because that's where the real engine of our economy is--in small businesses.
So, last week, the President announced various initiatives to assist small business to make credit available to them for their various projects, to purchase their loans so that they could go forward, so small banks could make loans to small businesses.
This President is making available to 95 percent of us tax credits. So for 95 percent of the American public, they will see their taxes go down.
So my friends on the other side of the aisle forget the history that brought us here. The Republican administration, by giving tax cuts to the wealthiest while prosecuting a war, put us in a very difficult position, but we will get it out by changing the direction of this Nation.
Mr. KIRK. Mr. Speaker, political liberty is founded on economic liberty, and history teaches that liberties are attacked during a crisis. The White House Chief of Staff has said never pass up an opportunity inside a crisis.
Secretary Geithner wants Congress to give the executive branch authority to seize any financial institution in America. It is an awesome power that will be quickly abused after just one Federal Reserve Board vote among all Presidential appointees. No judge would rule. No vote of the Congress would happen. This is a historic lunge for power.
Americans, remember, it was government agencies, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, that caused this crisis. I am from Chicago, and I know about government abuse and corruption.
We should reject Geithner's opportunistic thrust for control or rue this Congress when it gave only one branch of this government such a corruptible economic authority.
Mr. YARMUTH. Mr. Speaker, we are in very serious economic times. Unprecedented challenges confront this country. It is a time when we need all hands on deck.
Unfortunately, all we've heard from the other side of the aisle is hyperbole: we're spending too much, we're not doing this, we're not doing that. We need ideas.
The best in America has always come because of a conflict of ideas, because of ideas converging and taking the best and assimilating them into policies that benefit all Americans. We're not getting the help we need from our Republican colleagues. Again, we need all hands on deck.
Just this Sunday, one of the Republican Members was on a national talk show and said our faith in God is going to get us through this. Well, maybe it will, but faith in God, as important as it is, is not an economic policy.
We need the best that America has to offer from all sides of America. I invite my Republican colleagues to participate in this debate and help get us out of this economic challenge.
Mr. REHBERG. Mr. Speaker, each year there are two things that can get in the way of thousands of visitors seeking the picturesque vistas of Montana and all that it has to offer: high energy prices that make the trip too expensive and a blanket of smoke from out-of-control wildfires.
I've introduced legislation that brings some Montana common sense to those problems by literally harnessing the energy of a forest fire to generate electricity.
You see, nature wants to let the fires burn in order to preserve healthy forests, while man continues to try and put them out. When we interfere with nature, we wind up with overgrown forests that burn hotter and longer, wasting a potential renewable energy source. My bill restores these forests to a more natural and healthy density, while using the excess wood to create biomass energy.
Join me in cosponsoring H.R. 1111 to reduce the cost of wildfires and the cost of energy.
Mr. MURPHY of Connecticut. Another health care myth--if we reform our health care system, patients will lose choice. Again, this is simply not true. First, it begs the question: What choice do patients have today?
In America, we have choice, but too often it lies not with the doctor or patient, but with the insurance company. [Page: H3759]
Patients are denied physician-prescribed treatment, doctors are denied reimbursement for necessary care, and increasingly restrictive networks of coverage mean restrictive choice for patients.
A survey of the leading proposals for reform shows that no one is talking about limiting patient choice. In fact, a publicly sponsored plan, with a potential network of millions of Americans, would likely have one of the most robust networks of providers in the system, since doctors and hospitals would want and need to have access to this large pool of patients.
A public plan itself increases patient choice by allowing families to decide whether they want to continue with their private insurance plan or move to a publicly sponsored plan that might provide better coverage due to lower administrative and profit costs.
Health care reform limiting patient choice? It's just another myth about our health care system.
Mr. PAULSEN. Mr. Speaker, we will not recover from this recession unless small business leads the way by growing jobs. A small business owner from my district, Paul Robinson of Sterling Critical Products in Bloomington, was just in Washington last week. The message he has for Congress is that we need to provide incentives and access to capital for small business--and we need to make sure that no job-killing tax increases are added to their burden.
The $1.4 trillion tax increase that is on the table in the current budget proposal would drive a stake into the heart of our Nation's job creators. The proposal to raise taxes on asset creation by 33 percent would dry up badly needed capital and keep them from creating jobs.
My constituents are living within their means and they're cutting expenses. They expect Washington to do the same. But this budget spends too much, it taxes to much, and it borrows too much.
In these difficult times, we demand solutions that put people back to work. Let's reject these job-killing tax increases and start growing jobs now by supporting small business owners like Paul.
Mr. COSTA. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to call upon the Congress to reform our health care system. It's important. Forty-six million Americans currently have no health care insurance, yet health care costs have risen dramatically in years.
Insurance premiums in California have risen at a rate more than twice the rate of inflation, eating up a larger and larger percentage of household incomes. With the recent economic downturn, far too many families are losing their employer-based coverage and unable to afford the cost of health care on their own.
Like it or not, we taxpayers are paying for the health care in some of the most expensive ways possible, through the emergency room, for those who are uninsured. Last year, hospitals in my district provided nearly $200 million in uncompensated care. Clinics in our Central Valley alone have provided care for over 600,000 who have little insurance or none at all.
This system cannot and should not continue. The bottom line is we are paying for the uninsured today--the 46 million Americans who do not have insurance. We ought to do it in a better way.
Our citizens' health and our Nation's fiscal health depend on meaningful reform. Let's begin that effort.
Mr. DANIEL E. LUNGREN of California. Yesterday, Father Jenkins, the President of my alma mater, Notre Dame, explained his decision to give President Obama an honorary degree, in spite of his opposition to the culture of life expressed by that university and the Catholic Church. He explained it as an invitation to dialogue with the President. Let us hope so.
Let us hope there is a dialogue on the President's support for partial-birth abortion; on his opposition to the born-alive baby legislation; on his reversal of the Mexico City policy; on his support of Federal funding for embryonic stem cells where, denouncing it, he gave the back of the hand to Catholic moral teaching; and, in vitiating the Federal regulations guaranteeing the conscience clause, which is aimed at Catholic hospitals, doctors, and nurses.
Will this be an invitation to dialogue? Will the commencement address be an opportunity for the President to question his prior decisions? God only knows.
Ms. WATSON. Mr. Speaker, this is Cover the Uninsured Week, March 22-29, and I call for enactment of comprehensive health care reform this year.
Reforming the Nation's health care to lower costs, improve quality, increase coverage, and preserve choice is a top priority for Congress and the President. Our Nation's health care system, which costs more every year and leaves more than 45 million citizens uninsured, and millions more underinsured, is in bad need of reform. We simply can't afford to wait any longer to make the changes necessary to ensure greater access to quality health care.
The problem of the uninsured and its impact on the entire health care system continues to grow. The Federal Government estimates that over 45 million individuals lacked health insurance coverage of any kind during the last year, 2008. Approximately $56 billion is in uncompensated care.
We need to change that.
Mrs. BLACKBURN. My constituents are tired of Congress spending money they haven't made yet for programs they don't want. According to the CBO, total spending in 2009 is going to be over $4 trillion. The price tag on the President's budget is over $3.6 trillion.
Our country can't afford this budget because it spends too much, it taxes too much, and it borrows too much money on our future.
The CBO predicts that this budget will push our deficit to 9.6 percent of GDP in 2010. That's historical. CBO predicts that this country will run historically high deficits for the next decade. The global demand for American debt will only continue if our economic policies are sound.
Although we don't know the limits of the debt market, this budget is going to push us into unchartered territory. As lawmakers, it is our duty to preserve and protect prosperity. If we pass this budget, we will be abusing the economic opportunity for our children and our grandchildren. What kind of protection is that?
Ms. DeLAURO. An estimated 184,000 cases of invasive breast cancer were diagnosed last year. I rise today in support of every breast cancer patient who has ever undergone a mastectomy and then been told by her insurance company that she has to leave the hospital in 24 hours or less before she has had time to recover.
I'm reintroducing the Breast Cancer Patient Protection Act today. It's a bipartisan bill that overwhelmingly passed this House last year by a vote of 421-2. Simply, it ensures that after breast cancer surgery, a woman will have 48 hours to recuperate in the hospital, no matter which State she lives [Page: H3760]
in or what insurance coverage she has. It does not mandate that the patient has to stay in the hospital for 48 hours, but the decision should be made by patient
and doctor and not by an insurance company.
A Lifetime TV petition has been signed more than 23 million times, with people directing their stories to their Web site. We have information from 50 States.
The last thing any woman should do at this time is to fight with her insurance company. This should not be negotiable. Ultimately, that decision should be up to the patient and her doctor.
Before this session of Congress is over, we must take Federal action and pass the Breast Cancer Patient Protection Act into law, and take away this barrier to quality breast cancer care.
Ms. FOXX. I am absolutely amazed at the ability of my colleagues to bring to life the novel 1984 by Orwell. They stand up every day and rewrite history right here on the floor of the House.
We had 55 straight months of job growth, which ended in January 2007. Why? The Democrats took over the Congress that month. The Democrats then began spending too much, taxing too much, and borrowing too much--and they continue to do that. Their plans are going to finish off this country as we know it. Their budget will grow the Nation's debt to 82 percent of the overall economy by 2019--from 41 percent in 2008.
The Democrat budget doubles the share of the debt on every family in America. The current debt per capita is roughly $35,000. Under the Democrat budget, this will rise to $70,000 in only 8 years.
Despite the Democrats' claim, their budget plans for deficits through 2019 are actually higher than any year before President Obama took office.
Mr. COHEN. The American public wants to see bipartisanship and they want to see Democrats and Republicans work together. This is my second Congress I have served in, and it's disappointing to me to see a new President--who was elected with overwhelming numbers and overwhelming support--not get bipartisan support and help on his efforts.
I don't agree with President Obama on everything that he is trying to do to get us out of the economic morass that the Republican Congress and the previous President and Vice President left us in. But I support our President because I know we have one executive authority and one Treasury Department that needs to have a direction to get us on the road to prosperity.
It is disappointing that people just criticize, criticize, criticize. The fact is we need to spend to stimulate this economy and we need a recovery package as well as a reinvestment package to get this economy moving, and that's what is being offered. It's being geared toward the middle class that's being forgotten.
On the other side, they talk about preserving prosperity for our children and our grandchildren. Most people in this country--95 percent--don't have prosperity, and they need help. The Democratic budget will help them with health care, jobs, and education.
Mr. FLEMING. I would like to take this privileged opportunity to honor and celebrate the life of Private Jason Watson. Private Watson is from Many, Louisiana, and recently died in Afghanistan.
Private Watson gave that last full measure of devotion to defend our freedom, and his death is a reminder of the cost of our liberty. Remember that it's not the Congressman and it's not the reporter who guarantee freedom of speech, it's the uniformed servicemembers working every day.
He proudly defended America so that we may never experience the horror of another terrorist attack on our home soil. While little will comfort the pain his family feels at this time, I want to thank them on behalf of our country, a grateful country, and let them know that their family will be in our prayers.
Private Jason Watson died a hero. I challenge my colleagues to remember our role here in Congress to make responsible decisions to protect the lives of Americans and to uphold the values and the pillars of freedom this brave young man died for.
Ms. RICHARDSON. Mr. Speaker, I rise today as the daughter of a musician to honor the Long Beach Municipal Band on their 100-year anniversary. On March 14, 1909, under the direction of E. Harry Willey, the Long Beach Municipal Band gave its first performance at the Bath House Band Shell on the Pine Avenue Pier.
In particular, what I want to say about the band is, following a 6.25 magnitude earthquake in March of 1933 that almost destroyed an entire city, it was the band that remained and played to encourage the families who were left in shelters and in nearby parks.
Since that time, the Long Beach Municipal Band has gone on to perform 57,000 concerts, over 1 million pieces of music. Also, it's known as the longest running, municipally supported band in our country.
Please applaud our great city that has made an investment--the second-largest city in the largest county in this Nation--to remember that art is a part of music, and it's a part of this country.
Mr. THOMPSON of Pennsylvania. It has been 68 days, Mr. Speaker, since the United States Forest Service approved a notice to proceed with oil and gas production on the Allegheny National Forest.
Why is this cause for concern? Well, we are talking about a relationship between the Forest Service and private landowners that has existed for 86 years without a disruption of this magnitude. We are talking about jobs. Without permits to proceed, companies continue to lay off employees, and the local economy suffers.
Take Michael Hale's company, for example, a constituent of mine from Bradford, Pennsylvania, who recently wrote:
``As an owner of an excavating company during tough difficult times, I am discouraged by the recent actions by the Forest Service in delaying processing of notices to proceed for oil and gas extraction in the Allegheny National Forest.
``For the first time in our 26-year history, we have had to make adjustments to our workforce due to an inability to work. Currently, 35 percent of our field workers have been laid off and the remaining workers have had their hours reduced by 25 percent.
``We are not asking for a handout or a bailout of any kind, we just want to be able to work.''
It's companies like Michael Hale's that are the fabric which holds this economy and many of our rural communities together. They're not looking for a bailout, just a fair shake.
Mr. KINGSTON. Mr. Speaker, the Democrat budget spends too much, borrows too much, and taxes too much. But spending and taxes has never been [Page: H3761]
a problem for Speaker Pelosi and this Congress.
Take the latest boondoggle in the stimulus bill--$3 million for the city of Georgetown and Adams Morgan, upper income neighborhoods of Washington, DC, so that they can do, what? Install bike racks and buy 400 new bicycles for these poor yuppie elitist residents there, many of them who make six-digit incomes.
Now, to my knowledge, the Speaker pro tempore and I are the only Members of Congress who regularly ride bikes to work. I am glad. He's got a great bike. Mine isn't quite as nice, but I think it is a good bike. But we paid for them with our own money.
Why should the Federal Government have a bicycle program? Why are we going out to two of the wealthiest neighborhoods in Washington, DC and saying, hey, we are going to buy bicycles for you people? That is ridiculous, and that is part of the reason that we need to reject the Democrat budget. It spends too much, taxes too much, and borrows too much.
Mr. CARNEY. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and pass the bill (H.R. 1617) to amend the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to provide for a privacy official within each component of the Department of Homeland Security, and for other purposes.
The Clerk read the title of the bill.
The text of the bill is as follows:
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
This Act may be cited as the ``Department of Homeland Security Component Privacy Officer Act of 2009''.
SEC. 2. ESTABLISHMENT OF PRIVACY OFFICIAL WITHIN EACH COMPONENT OF DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY.
(a) In General.--Subtitle C of title II of the Homeland Security Act of 2002 (6 U.S.C. 141 et seq.) is amended by inserting after section 222 the following new section:
``SEC. 222A. PRIVACY OFFICIALS.
``(2) COMPONENTS.--The components of the Department referred to in this subparagraph are as follows:
``(A) The Transportation Security Administration.
``(B) The Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services.
``(C) Customs and Border Protection.
``(D) Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
``(E) The Federal Emergency Management Agency.
``(F) The Coast Guard.
``(G) The Directorate of Science and Technology.
``(H) The Office of Intelligence and Analysis.
``(I) The Directorate for National Protection and Programs.
``(b) Responsibilities.--Each privacy official designated under subsection (a) shall report directly to both the head of the official's component and the senior official appointed under section 222, and shall have the following responsibilities with respect to the component:
``(1) Serve as such senior official's main point of contact at the component to implement the polices and directives of such senior official in carrying out section 222.
``(2) Advise the head of that component on privacy considerations when any law, regulation, program, policy, procedure, or guideline is proposed, developed, or implemented.
``(3) Assure that the use of technologies by the component sustain or enhance privacy protections relating to the use, collection, and disclosure of personal information within the component.
``(4) Identify privacy issues related to component programs and apply appropriate privacy policies in accordance with Federal privacy law and Departmental policies developed to ensure that the component protects the privacy of individuals affected by its activities.
``(5) Monitor the component's compliance with all applicable Federal privacy laws and regulations, implement corrective, remedial, and preventive actions and notify the senior official appointed under section 222 of privacy issues or non-compliance, whenever necessary.
``(6) Ensure that personal information contained in Privacy Act systems of records is handled in full compliance with section 552a of title 5, United States Code.
``(7) Assist in drafting and reviewing privacy impact assessments, privacy threshold assessments, and system of records notices, in conjunction with and under the direction of the senior official appointed under section 222, for any new or substantially changed program or technology that collects, maintains, or disseminates personally identifiable information within the official's component.
``(8) Assist in drafting and reviewing privacy impact assessments, privacy threshold assessments, and system of records notices in conjunction with and under the direction of the senior official appointed under section 222, for proposed rulemakings and regulations within the component.
``(9) Conduct supervision of programs, regulations, policies, procedures, or guidelines to ensure the component's protection of privacy and, as necessary, promulgate guidelines and conduct oversight to ensure the protection of privacy.
``(10) Implement and monitor privacy training for component employees and contractors in coordination with the senior official appointed under section 222.
``(11) Provide the senior official appointed under section 222 with written materials and information regarding the relevant activities of the component, including privacy violations and abuse, that are needed by the senior official to successfully prepare the reports the senior official submits to Congress and prepares on behalf of the Department.
``(12) Any other responsibilities assigned by the Secretary or the senior official appointed under section 222.
``(c) Role of Component Heads.--The head of a component identified in subsection (a)(2) shall ensure that the privacy official designated under subsection (a) for that component--
``(1) has the information, material, and resources necessary to fulfill the responsibilities of such official under this section;
``(2) is advised of proposed policy changes and the development of new programs, rules, regulations, procedures, or guidelines during the planning stage and is included in the decisionmaking process; and
``(3) is given access to material and personnel the privacy official deems necessary to carry out the official's responsibilities.
``(d) Limitation.--Nothing in this section shall be considered to abrogate the role and responsibilities of the senior official appointed under section 222.''.
(b) Clerical Amendment.--The table of contents in section 1(b) of such Act is amended by inserting after the item related to section 222 the following new item: