Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley delivered this morning’s Republican response to President Obama’s weekly radio address. Grassley charged Obama’s economic plans "don’t connect all the dots" and would create the "biggest tax increase in history." The mp3 of Grassley’s remarks is below.
President Obama, in his remarks , announced creation of a "Food Safety Working Group." The president said the nation’s food safety system is a "hazard to public health" and he announced the Ag Department — headed by former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack — is acting to close loopholes in the meat inspection system.
President Franklin Roosevelt started the tradition of radio addresses to the nation in the 1930s. In November, shortly after his election as the 44th president, Obama began recording a weekly message and posted the video on-line. The text of Obama’s remarks which aired today are below, as well as the text of Graslsey’s response.
Here is the text of Grassley’s five-minute-long statement:
"I’m Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa. I serve as the senior Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, which handles all tax legislation.
"The President of the United States has the pleasure of leading the country in the best of times, but the responsibility for digging us out of the worst.
"He has to govern in the present and build confidence for the future.
"Right now, Americans need jobs. They want Washington to fix only what it can, without destroying opportunities for the next generation.
"The President’s programs don’t connect all the dots.
"His plans fail to recognize that Americans are not an endless source of tax dollars to pay for government spending.
"The President’s proposed budget raises taxes. For the vast majority of people who earn less than $200,000, raising taxes on higher earners might not sound so bad.
"Yet a lot of small businesses are in that category. The landscaper or the general contractor with a dozen employees could land in the bull’s eye.
"Tell these business owners their taxes will go up. Odds are, they’ll cut spending. They’ll cancel orders for new equipment, cut health insurance for their employees, stop hiring, and lay people off.
"These small businesses happen to create 74 percent of all new private sector jobs in the United States.
"Meanwhile, the President’s budget includes a tax increase on more than half of small businesses with 20 or more employees. Businesses of that size account for two-thirds of the small business workforce. The tax increase is equal to 20 percent of the marginal tax rate paid by those small businesses.
"Ask people what number of jobs they’re willing to sacrifice right now. To a person, they’ll tell you zero.
"The Administration also wants to cut the tax deduction for giving to charity. Even the Tax Policy Center, a left-leaning think tank, says this would mean $9 billion less for philanthropy.
"The Administration’s proposal to reduce the carbon production could amount to an average hidden tax increase of around $3,000 per household a year. In effect it’s a national sales tax on energy.
"All of these tax increases would be the biggest tax increase in history.
"That’s not all: Even if every one of these tax increases goes on the books, this budget still nearly triples the national debt by 2019.
"The President and his allies in Congress want to spend too much, tax too much, and borrow too much.
"Somebody has to pay — if not the middle class now, then later. Eventually the middle class gets hit.
"Meanwhile, if taxes get too high, people drop out of the workforce and pay less taxes.
So higher taxes don’t bring in more money.
"Government spending is a pretty inefficient way to create jobs anyway. Economists say the new stimulus bill will cost $787 billion to create or save 2.5 million jobs — one million fewer than promoted by the Administration and congressional supporters. It amounts to $315,000 for each job created or saved.
"It’s very simple. The government doesn’t create wealth. It expends wealth.
"No wonder then the public is skeptical about Washington trying to fix the economy with one massive spending bill after another. It’s hard to convince taxpayers that more deficit spending is the answer.
"There’s evidence that the President and his people understand this, even if their budget doesn’t show it. They say they don’t want to raise taxes until 2011 because the economy is too weak.
"Well, if the President admits that tax increases hurt the economy, that will be true in two years as it is true today. Americans need leadership, and they need confidence now. They need their President and their elected representatives to connect all the dots. Jobs are hard-won. The government should first, do no harm. Thank you for listening."
Here is the text of Obama’s weekly address:
"I’ve often said that I don’t believe government has the answer to every problem or that it can do all things for all people. We are a nation built on the strength of individual initiative. But there are certain things that we can’t do on our own. There are certain things only a government can do. And one of those things is ensuring that the foods we eat, and the medicines we take, are safe and don’t cause us harm. That is the mission of our Food and Drug Administration and it is a mission shared by our Department of Agriculture, and a variety of other agencies and offices at just about every level of government.
"The men and women who inspect our foods and test the safety of our medicines are chemists and physicians, veterinarians and pharmacists. It is because of the work they do each and every day that the United States is one of the safest places in the world to buy groceries at a supermarket or pills at a drugstore. Unlike citizens of so many other countries, Americans can trust that there is a strong system in place to ensure that the medications we give our children will help them get better, not make them sick; and that a family dinner won’t end in a trip to the doctor’s office.
"But in recent years, we’ve seen a number of problems with the food making its way to our kitchen tables. In 2006, it was contaminated spinach. In 2008, it was salmonella in peppers and possibly tomatoes. And just this year, bad peanut products led to hundreds of illnesses and cost nine people their lives – a painful reminder of how tragic the consequences can be when food producers act irresponsibly and government is unable to do its job. Worse, these incidents reflect a troubling trend that’s seen the average number of outbreaks from contaminated produce and other foods grow to nearly 350 a year – up from 100 a year in the early 1990s.
"Part of the reason is that many of the laws and regulations governing food safety in America have not been updated since they were written in the time of Teddy Roosevelt. It’s also because our system of inspection and enforcement is spread out so widely among so many people that it’s difficult for different parts of our government to share information, work together, and solve problems. And it’s also because the FDA has been underfunded and understaffed in recent years, leaving the agency with the resources to inspect just 7,000 of our 150,000 food processing plants and warehouses each year. That means roughly 95% of them go uninspected.
"That is a hazard to public health. It is unacceptable. And it will change under the leadership of Dr. Margaret Hamburg, whom I am appointing today as Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration. From her research on infectious disease at the National Institutes of Health to her work on public health at the Department of Health and Human Services to her leadership on biodefense at the Nuclear Threat Initiative, Dr. Hamburg brings to this vital position not only a reputation of integrity but a record of achievement in making Americans safer and more secure. Dr. Hamburg was one of the youngest people ever elected to the National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine. And her two children have a unique distinction of their own. Their birth certificates feature her name twice – once as their mother, and once as New York City Health Commissioner. In that role, Dr. Hamburg brought a new life to a demoralized agency, leading an internationally-recognized initiative that cut the tuberculosis rate by nearly half, and overseeing food safety in our nation’s largest city.
"Joining her as Principal Deputy Commissioner will be Dr. Joshua Sharfstein. As Baltimore’s Health Commissioner, Dr. Sharfstein has been recognized as a national leader for his efforts to protect children from unsafe over-the-counter cough and cold medications. And he’s designed an award-winning program to ensure that Americans with disabilities had access to prescription drugs.
"Their critical work – and the critical work of the FDA they lead – will be part of a larger effort taken up by a new Food Safety Working Group I am creating. This Working Group will bring together cabinet secretaries and senior officials to advise me on how we can upgrade our food safety laws for the 21st century; foster coordination throughout government; and ensure that we are not just designing laws that will keep the American people safe, but enforcing them. And I expect this group to report back to me with recommendations as soon as possible.
"As part of our commitment to public health, our Agriculture Department is closing a loophole in the system to ensure that diseased cows don’t find their way into the food supply. And we are also strengthening our food safety system and modernizing our labs with a billion dollar investment, a portion of which will go toward significantly increasing the number of food inspectors, helping ensure that the FDA has the staff and support they need to protect the food we eat.
"In the end, food safety is something I take seriously, not just as your President, but as a parent. When I heard peanut products were being contaminated earlier this year, I immediately thought of my 7-year old daughter, Sasha, who has peanut butter sandwiches for lunch probably three times a week. No parent should have to worry that their child is going to get sick from their lunch. Just as no family should have to worry that the medicines they buy will cause them harm. Protecting the safety of our food and drugs is one of the most fundamental responsibilities government has, and, with the outstanding team I am announcing today, it is a responsibility that I intend to uphold in the months and years to come.