Mr. ENGLISH of Pennsylvania. Mr. Speaker, in my view, there are three Grand Canyons in America. One is famous, and it is in Arizona and, I think, familiar to most in the West. Another is well known in the eastern United States, and it is in Wellsboro, Pennsylvania.
The third has opened up since the last election. And here, Mr. Speaker, I am referring to the grand canyon, the gap, between the rhetoric of the Democratic Caucus in the House of Representatives, as witnessed on the floor of the House in the last Congress and in previous Congresses, and the policies of the Democratic Congress since being sworn in in this Congress.
I remember, Mr. Speaker, fondly, some of the speeches that were given on the floor of Congress on behalf of the Social Security system. Some fierce, even lachrymose presentations that any additional funding for any new priority inevitably would be at the expense of the balance of the Social Security system, which is seriously in the red. In other words, new spending, because we were running a deficit, was inevitably at the expense of the Social Security system. I have heard our friends on the
other side of the aisle make the case repeatedly in previous Congresses to restrict spending because additional funds would be coming out of the Social Security system.
But, Mr. Speaker, since the election, Democrats seem to have muted these concerns and Democratic actions have been very different.
Mr. Speaker, I propose to give our friends on the other side of the aisle an opportunity to bridge the Grand Canyon. I propose to give the majority a small, perhaps symbolic, but very important opportunity to reach out and express their commitment to fiscal policies that preserve the Social Security balance for what it was intended for: to fund retirement savings.
Mr. Speaker, by commingling our Social Security surplus with our deficit-ridden general fund, we potentially expose our Social Security system to risk by shielding our policymakers from their spending decisions to the full consequences and the full balance sheet. The time has come for us to change that practice.
Specifically, this motion says that the funding authorized for the Advanced Technology Program will be capped at the previous year's appropriated amount until such time as the Social Security surplus is not used to foot part of the bill.
There is no doubt that the ATP program has great merit. But I think we have to ask ourselves, Mr. Speaker, is increasing funding for the program more important than saving the Social Security surplus for future beneficiaries?
Mr. Speaker, I serve on the committee of jurisdiction, and recently we had an opportunity to hear from the Social Security actuaries one more time that the Social Security system is at risk, is under enormous pressure, and that the time has come to take decisive steps to make it solvent so that its promise can be fulfilled to the next generation. What we are proposing here today is maybe to begin this process in a small way and create an opportunity for all of our friends in this institution
to go on record firmly in an important policy decision and make it clear that we are not going to raid the Social Security fund in the future.
This is a very clear issue. It is a very simple issue. It is an opportunity to cut past the rhetoric and, frankly, create an opportunity for us to do something very significant on one of the major issues facing the country.
Mr. Speaker, I hope everyone in this body will join me in supporting this very important initiative on behalf of the Social Security fund.
Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.
Mr. WU. Mr. Speaker, we have heard much talk about the Social Security trust fund and the solvency of Social Security. But in the time that I have been here, in 8 years, the solvency of Social Security has been increased by approximately 8 years, and that increase is because of American economic growth. It was projected at 34 years of solvency. It is currently projected at 42 years of solvency, and that [Page: H4463]
is based on conservative, conservative estimates.
The reason why there has been that increase in the solvency period of Social Security is because of economic growth.
There is nothing more important to the American economy and our competitiveness than the legislation that we are considering today.
The motion to recommit which the gentleman offers would fundamentally gut this legislation and prevent us from investing in the most productive of technologies, a traditional role which the Federal Government has played to support research and early-stage development, not commercialization, but early-stage development. By prohibiting those activities with this cap, what in essence would happen is our rate of economic growth would be slackened, our ability to manufacture jobs would be decreased.
This is a motion to recommit which would gut the bill, and I urge its defeat.
Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.