WASHINGTON—United States Senator Bill Hagerty (R-TN) today delivered remarks on the Senate floor urging his colleagues to oppose the infrastructure bill, and called out Democrats for manipulating Senate procedure to usher in a $3.5 trillion tax-and-spend spree that would fundamentally change the country and render it unrecognizable.
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Remarks as prepared for delivery
As I said earlier in this debate, I agree that working to shore up our hard infrastructure is a worthy cause. Investing in infrastructure—the right way—is a wise investment in America’s future and long-term competitiveness.
But that’s not what we are being asked to vote on here. Rather, we have a package with some infrastructure—good for our economy—riddled with big government and massive deficit spending—over a quarter of a trillion dollars in the hole.
And we wanted to rush this through as quickly as possible?
There is a right way and a wrong way to pursue noble goals.
And let’s be clear, the Democrat leadership has tied this infrastructure bill to their effort to use their 50-vote reconciliation process to fundamentally move America toward Western-European-style socialism, which—as anyone can see today—brings with it limited opportunity, less innovation, crushing taxes, a bloated government bureaucracy, and cradle-to-grave government dependency.
Right on cue, Democrats introduced the $3.5-trillion-dollar part of the plan this morning, and the Democrat Leader promised that the Senate will turn to it as soon as we vote on this bill.
I wish this wasn’t the case. And all it would take for it not to be the case is for just one of my Democrat colleagues to say that they won’t support the $3.5-trillion-dollar part of this plan. I’m still hopeful, but I remain concerned given the statements by Democrat leaders.
President Biden and Speaker Pelosi have been clear that this “bipartisan deal” on infrastructure won’t become law unless all of the socialist big government items that got excluded from this so-called Track 1 infrastructure “deal”, are later tacked onto it, in Track 2 of their plan. The Democrat Leader is saying this quite clearly, using the consistent refrain of a “two-track” plan.
They are doing this because the far-left has pushed the Democrat party over the edge. Whether the subject is court-packing, election takeovers, or government dependency—it is clear that the far-left is calling the shots today.
Sadly, Democrats view this infrastructure bill as an important tool to advance the far-left’s agenda. Democrat leaders have promised to link it to trillions of dollars more in government taxing, spending, and dependency programs that this body will take up later this week.
This smoke-and-mirrors charade is the kind of thing that makes Americans shake their heads.
I have negotiated deals my whole career, and often, what is negotiated out of a deal is just as important as what’s in it. There is not a “deal” if, at the last minute, the other side uses a side deal—a different program—to add in all of the items that you never wanted.
That is why, when we consider this infrastructure bill, we must also look to the multi-trillion-dollar, tax-and-spend, path to socialism that Democrat leaders have promised is part of the total package.
So, members of this body and the American people need to listen carefully to what’s expected to be in this second part of the plan— and try not to let your jaw hit the floor in the process. Just listen to what Democrats are promising to stuff into this reconciliation bill:
It will enable the Green New Deal. It will crush the American fossil fuel industry, never mind the fact that the industry is continually becoming much, much cleaner on its own. This will cost millions of American jobs. It will sacrifice the energy independence we’ve recently achieved. And it will make us more dependent on foreign adversaries.
Ultimately, Democrats would rather placate the far-left’s near-religious fervor for government-subsidized electric cars and windmills—even if it means hollowing out American communities that provide our energy independence today.
And they will jeopardize our national security in the process. It’s a great deal for the green-energy lobby, which supports Democrat politicians. But it’s a terrible deal for our nation and our national security.
It will drastically increase taxes on job creators, which will cost untold numbers of jobs and reduce wages. Get ready to see more jobs shipped out of the United States and into the welcoming arms of China. Don’t worry, though, Democrats are proposing to create a Civilian Climate Corps that will hire some of the people who lose their jobs. To do what? Proselytize on the virtues of green energy?
It will impose one of the largest-ever increases in tax rates on American capital, resulting in America having one of the highest tax rates on investments and capital in the industrialized world. Capital investment creates new jobs and innovation—and this will crush that process in America.
It will expand the Death Tax that Americans must pay on the savings and property of their loved ones when they pass away—making it much harder for small businesses and family farms to be passed from generation-to-generation.
It will move America closer to a European, socialist model for health care: with less choice, longer wait times, and less quality. If we’ve learned anything during the coronavirus pandemic, it’s that we have the greatest health care system and health care workers in the world. The last thing we need to do is try to make our health care system weaker . . .
It will nullify state right-to-work laws and ensure American workers don’t have a choice but to submit to union bosses. It is impossible to say how many good-paying jobs this will cost states like Tennessee. States that have experienced enormous growth and prosperity in recent decades by passing laws that put workers first, by allowing them to choose whether or not they want to join a union. But, union dues are used to fund Democrat political campaigns, so rather than make unions earn the support of workers, Democrats would prefer just to mandate it.
At a time when American small businesses are desperately looking for employees, this legislation will provide even more incentives for American workers not to work. Small businesses—and American consumers—will suffer as a result.
It will provide more handouts to teachers unions, who have refused to open schools in much of the country for the last year-and-a-half. Teachers unions provide a great financial benefit to Democrats’ political campaigns.
It will provide more handouts to green unions and green-energy interests, which conveniently fund the campaigns of Democrat politicians.
Noticing a trend yet?
In addition to taking more of American taxpayers’ hard-earned dollars, it will be debt-financed and not paid for, at least not by our generation. It may be convenient for today’s politicians, but our children and grandchildren will be left with the bill for today’s reckless spending.
It will be so large that it will likely be beyond the capacity of Congress to oversee it, to prevent waste, fraud, and abuse.
We should all be deeply concerned . . .
Ultimately, it’s designed to create a permanent state of government dependency and reliance for everything from jobs, to your choice in doctors, to fueling your car. That way, you’ll have to turn to the institution Democrats have captured most—government, and its unaccountable bureaucracy—for virtually everything.
In the short term, this is a reckless, multi-trillion-dollar step toward socialism—again, several trillion dollars, that’s 13 digits. A number that many calculators don’t have room for. This step will likely add further fuel to already-rampant inflation. As we all know, inflation is a hidden tax on all Americans, cutting into our savings, decreasing real earnings, and hurting our retirees most of all.
Over the longer term, this path to socialism will slow job creation and productivity, reduce wages, ship jobs overseas, harm small businesses and workers, and freeze investment here in America. Drastically increased taxes will hobble innovative industries and technologies in which America was poised to lead. And Green New Deal mandates and regulations will crush industries where we currently do lead, like energy production.
With this massive expansion of inefficient government, bureaucratic involvement in our day-to-day lives will increase. It’s as if Democrats’ goal is to emulate the totalitarian central planners of the Chinese Communist Party . . .
Rather than competing against China by creating a free, market-driven environment for innovation and job-creation—which is how we won the Cold War—Democrats seem to want to copy China’s model.
This tax-and-spend spree by Democrats will also burden our children and grandchildren with even more debt. Sadly, this isn’t a pig-in-a-python moment, and the harmful effects of this spending spree will last for generations.
America is nearly $30 trillion in debt—$30 trillion. $30 trillion dollars is significantly more than the total value of what our economy produces annually. And as Democrats impose policies that will limit economic growth and productivity, our ability to pay our debts will become much more difficult. And as the debt payments we owe continue to increase and become a larger and larger share of the annual federal revenue pie, we’re going to leave our children with some really tough choices.
So, while I support hard infrastructure and working to find the right way to invest in it . . . joining it at the hip with a vision for America as a socialist utopia isn’t it.
The stakes are too high, and it’s time to get serious about the path we’re heading down. We must think beyond today and our short-term interests. We need to stop endangering our children’s and grandchildren’s future—while we still can—by getting our spending under control and developing a plan for paying down our debt—not making it far worse.
This multi-trillion dollar path to socialism threatens the future of our country. It not only threatens to leave our children with an unpayable debt, but also limits their ability to pay it off by smothering our economy with massive government bureaucracy that stifles the private sector innovation that has—until now—led the world.
America has always been a beacon of hope to the world because we are exceptional. We have provided more freedom, opportunity, and prosperity than any other nation. We have been proud of this exceptionalism and have carefully safeguarded it through the generations.
The strength of America is our unique system—our spirit, our work ethic, our compassion and care for one another, and the communities we’ve created.
This multi-trillion-dollar plan, which increases government control and decreases freedom and opportunity, threatens this system at its core. Our government exists to preserve the freedoms that allow the American people and our communities to flourish, not to control the American people.
And the American people will flourish, if permitted to do so. In this sense, the only thing that can stop America is America’s government, by limiting its own people’s opportunity and prosperity.
I’m asking my colleagues to fight to ensure that the America we know endures for our children. The Greatest Generation gave us the most just and prosperous country in the history of the world—the country that won World War II and then the Cold War—and we must fight to preserve it, not throw it away.
Because the President and Democrat leaders have bound this infrastructure bill to a plan that will dramatically weaken America and reduce opportunity and prosperity for our people, I will be casting a “no” vote and urge my colleagues to do the same.
Madam President, I yield the floor.