(House of Representatives - May 25, 2017)

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[Pages H4597-H4600]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []

                              {time}  1245
                           ISSUES OF THE DAY

  The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Gallagher). Under the Speaker's 
announced policy of January 3, 2017, the Chair recognizes the gentleman 
from Texas (Mr. Gohmert) for 30 minutes.
  Mr. GOHMERT. Mr. Speaker, I yield to the gentleman from Florida (Mr. 
Gaetz), my friend.
  Mr. GAETZ. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding.
  Mr. Speaker, as a Floridian, I have to take a moment to share my 
gratitude to the gentleman from Florida (Mr. Mast) for the remarks he 
just shared.
  During my occupancy of the rostrum, my own eyes welled with tears as 
I thought of the empty chairs at the table in my own district and all 
throughout the country as people, as families have made sacrifice and 
sent those to fight for us.
  I can only be reminded, hearing the gentleman from Florida's remarks, 
that each and every day in this House we do fall short of that great 
patriotism that is reflected by our servicemen and -women: We could do 
better; we could be more worthy of the sacrifice; we could resist the 
influences of special interests more; we could make the tough decisions 
that are necessary; we could put America on a better footing forward.
  It is my belief and my sincere hope, by hearing the words of my 
colleague, by raising our gaze to an even broader and more accepting 
patriotism, that we can do it. And I believe Mr. Mast will be one of 
the people that lead us in that regard.
  Mr. GOHMERT. Mr. Speaker, I thank my friend from Florida for those 
remarks. Mr. Gaetz represents the First District of Florida, a brother 
in arms,

[[Page H4598]]

since I represent the First District of Texas.
  We are very grateful for Brian Mast and what he has given for his 
country, what he has been willing to give for his country; and it is an 
honor to serve with him in the trenches--sometimes literal trenches 
around here--a great, honorable patriot for America.
  On Monday, that is what we will celebrate, Memorial Day, and I want 
to talk further about that.
  Right now I want to touch on an issue that has occupied a lot of 
people's concern and time this week over CBO scoring, rather important, 
but it should not be.
  The Congressional Budget Office and the Joint Tax Commission do the 
scoring. Historically, the projections by CBO seem all too often to be 
far too out of line that any governmental entity would base important 
critical decisions over people's lives, their healthcare--it will 
certainly affect their lives--and base it on a group that, as they have 
explained: We set up models. And we feed the garbage--they don't use 
that term. But, as far as I am concerned, they feed garbage in and they 
get garbage out.
  And projections: Oh, we have to wait and see what CBO says. People 
waiting with bated breath: Oh, is it going to be in line?
  For heaven's sake, anybody that waits on a score for the JTC or the 
CBO in dealing with the tax reform that we should do doesn't have much 
sense. And there is nothing wrong with not having much sense. It just 
hurts the country when people without much sense are here in Washington 
making decisions about people's lives and encroaching on their liberty 
and freedom.
  So we have people like Brian Mast, and we have those who have given 
all, the last measure of devotion, for our liberty. Then we turn around 
and have a Federal Government that passes laws about healthcare reform 
and decides that they have to have all of the medical records here in 
the Federal Government.
  And do you know what? We need to have a Consumer Finance Protection 
Bureau to protect people from unscrupulous bankers, so we are going to 
get everybody's banking records.
  Well, as a former judge and as a former prosecutor, if you wanted 
somebody's banking records, you had to have sworn proof rising to the 
level of probable cause that a crime was committed and this person 
committed it, and then you got the records when a judge signed off on 
it. Not now. Not with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. They 
just get everybody's records.
  And then, without reining in ObamaCare and if we did not rein in the 
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Washington continues to gather 
people's medical records through sweetheart deals with private 
entities, a hypothetical I raised many years ago as ObamaCare was being 
pushed through, came ever closer--really, is here--to the point that we 
could reach a day--it is not quite here. We have still got a chance to 
save America from the Orwellian nature of ObamaCare and the CFPB 
  But years ago I said, you know, if we don't stop this craziness, we 
are going to reach a point where you could get a letter from the 
Federal Government, saying: Hey, we have got your medical records, but 
we notice that you made a purchase at the grocery store this last week 
and bought some bacon, a pound of bacon. We know, from having your 
medical records, that your cholesterol, weight is not at a very healthy 
point right now, so you are either going to have to quit eating bacon 
or we are going to be penalizing you substantially, since we are in 
charge of your healthcare, your health insurance. We are in charge of 
  That is where we have been heading. And it is something the Founders, 
who would not have seen the advent of the computers and the IT age, but 
what they did foresee, whatever developments in technology that came 
along, they foresaw this ongoing battle to keep government from 
controlling people's lives and eliminating their liberty. That is what 
they saw coming. They didn't have to see the technology. They knew what 
was coming if we didn't keep the Federal Government reined in.
  I know there are groups out there that are gathering information that 
say: Well, this Member of Congress, this Senator, he doesn't get many 
bills passed. Well, if you look at most of the things we have passed, 
other than funding bills, so often they are creating more government 
agencies and more government power. Each time we do, no matter how 
noble the purpose is, we are taking just a little bit of freedom and a 
little bit of liberty away from individuals and giving more power to 
the government.

  Why I think it is appropriate to bring this up as we approach 
Memorial Day is people have not fought throughout our history--going 
back to 1775, 1776, on to 1783 and the winning of the American 
Revolution, on through each of the wars that has been fought in the 
name of liberty--they didn't fight so that we could come to the floor 
and pass more and more bills and create more and more government. Even 
when we are told, ``Oh, but CBO says this will only cost $5 million 
this year, or only cost $5 million, so it is not that big a deal,'' it 
is still eroding people's liberty. It is still taking away freedom and 
giving more control to the government.
  So, as we look briefly at some of the history on CBO scoring, this is 
an article by Paul Teller, Special Assistant to the President for 
Legislative Affairs. He says:

       A new report from the Office of the Assistant Secretary for 
     Planning and Evaluation calculated average monthly premiums 
     for health insurance in the 39 States that use The research found that from 2013 to 2017 the 
     average ObamaCare premium increased by 105 percent across the 
     country. The report also looked at the cost spikes by State.
       While we await further analysis of the CBO score for the 
     American Health Care Act as passed by the House, this 
     information is an important reminder about the negative 
     impact of ObamaCare.
       Besides just how unaffordable ObamaCare has been for 
     hardworking Americans, you might consider three key things 
     about today's CBO score in the context of this new report.
       Number one, the original CBO estimate of ObamaCare 
     premiums, November 30, 2009, said that premiums for the 
     ``nongroup'' exchange markets would increase slightly and 
     ``would be about 10 percent to 13 percent higher in 2016.''

  CBO has the gall to act like they are so important and so accurate, 
but over and over, if you look at critical projections they have made 
and for people to have said, and CBO, in 2009, you know, by 2016, you 
might have a 10 to 13 percent increase in your premiums is, or would 
be, laughable except for the crying of Americans across the country who 
can't afford the premiums that have gone up 2, 3, 4, or 10 times.
  One of our small-business employers said he paid, a couple of years 
ago, $53,000 for his employees' health insurance, and the following 
year it was $150,000 for his employees. That leaves him without 
personal income because he had such a dramatic increase in the 
premiums. But how could that be? CBO said maybe a 10 to 13 percent 
increase over that 7-year period.
  It comes back to show, once again, as I told Bloomberg this morning, 
it appears those folks, figuratively speaking, couldn't find their rear 
end with both hands.

       Number two, even if you assume CBO's AHCA estimate is 
     completely accurate, the first score, March 17, 2017, showed 
     that the bill would bring down nongroup premium costs over 
     the next 10 years. While CBO did say that premiums would rise 
     slightly over the transition period, attributed to the repeal 
     of the individual mandate, by 2020 the AHCA would change the 
     trajectory of premiums and ``By 2026, average premiums for 
     single policyholders in the nongroup market under the 
     legislation would be roughly 10 percent lower.''

                              {time}  1300

  So you hang around and wait for 10 years under the original AHCA and 
you might have a 10 percent decrease 10 years from now, which is 
absurd. They were so desperately wrong on their projections.
  And I don't have it in front of me. It may be in one of these 
articles here, but I think originally their projection of cost of 
ObamaCare was about 1.1, $1.2 trillion over 10 years; and then, of 
course, the President got upset, because he had said: Oh no, it is 
going to be under $1 trillion for 10 years.
  He calls the Director of CBO over to the Oval Office. They have a 
conversation and, amazingly, the Director of CBO comes out and says: 
You know what? After meeting with the President, while I--things came 
clearer for

[[Page H4599]]

me, and turns out it probably will be $800 billion or so. It will be 
like the President said. I just needed to speak to the President to all 
of a sudden have a lot more clarity than I did before I went to the 
Oval Office. But it is under $1 trillion, like the President said, now 
that I think about it with more clarity.
  And then, of course, after ObamaCare passed, very quickly we started 
learning, no, it wasn't going to be under a trillion; it was going to 
be over a trillion; maybe 1.7, 1.9. And before long, we start seeing 
projections more like $2.6 trillion over 10 years. And even one that I 
had seen that said, you know, maybe 3.6, roughly $4 trillion over 10 
  As I have said a number of times, you know, any scoring agency whose 
margin of error is plus or minus 400 percent really shouldn't be relied 
on by anyone trying to create meaningful law in Congress. That is why 
for a number of years I have been pushing for the elimination of CBO 
for a better system, where, as Americans, we believe in competition--or 
we used to.
  Now, I know we have got some folks that can't compete. They need a 
safe space if somebody is going to compete with them. But what made 
America great was American competitiveness. We could compete with 
anybody and prevail.
  So why wouldn't we have scorers compete so that we could score the 
scorers, so that every critically important bill to the American public 
didn't get sidetracked by some bogus models?
  And I am not saying they do it intentionally. You don't have to do it 
intentionally to have a margin of error plus or minus 400 percent. You 
can be legitimately that bad at projecting what things will cost; and 
it has happened throughout the time that we have had projections.
  So what I was proposing--and I got my friend, who was the chairman of 
the Budget Committee, to agree to sit down to dinner with a dear friend 
of his, Dr. Arthur Laffer, former economic adviser to Reagan, now an 
adviser to President Trump, and also a friend of both of ours, Steve 
Moore, who had been the senior editor with The Wall Street Journal. I 
asked if the Budget Committee chairman would sit down with me and 
Arthur Laffer and Steve Moore and talk about CBO.
  This has been a number of years ago. We sat down at the Capitol Hill 
Club one evening and, of course, my friend, Dr. Tom Coburn, walks by 
and says: Okay. Is this one of those puzzles? Figure out which piece 
doesn't belong here? I get chairman of the Budget Committee, I get Wall 
Street Journal guy, Steve Moore, I get economic adviser Art Laffer. 
Louie, what are you doing at this table?
  But it was my idea. We needed to come up with a way to have 
competitive scoring by competitive scorers, and then get to where we 
can score the scorers, so that when we look at a score that is 
presented to us on a bill that is being proposed, you can look at the 
score of that scoring entity. And if they have a score, say, of 10 
percent, being right within 5 percent, plus or minus margin of error, 
then we can probably take very seriously their scoring in the future.
  My friend--at that time he was Chairman Ryan--was very open to 
discussing it, but really kind of felt like we needed to keep CBO and 
have an official government scorer.
  But since then, Dr. Laffer called sometime later to let me know that 
he had received a private grant, and that he, his firm, and his son 
would be working on a model that could work for Congress, the House and 
Senate, to begin having competitive scoring and scoring the scorers so 
we could have something more reliable, so that we didn't have a bunch 
of bureaucratic melees from models created that kept us from doing what 
was good for America.
  So, as I think has been pointed out before, whether you ask CBO, 
``How much Federal revenue would we have come in if we had 100 percent 
income tax or 200 percent income tax,'' or if you said, ``Tell us how 
much Federal revenue comes in if we create a 200 percent income tax,'' 
since they are not allowed to consider reality and history, but only 
the models they create mechanically, it's probably a good chance that 
they would probably dutifully come in and say: You know what? If you 
set up a 200 percent income tax in the United States of America, then 
next year you will bring in twice as much money to the Federal Treasury 
as all Americans make in that year.
  Because they are divorced from reality, it doesn't work into their 
models they create.
  In talking to my friend, I hope he doesn't mind my sharing it. I hope 
he will invite me to have spaghetti with his family at his home in 
Nashville again sometime. I love visiting with him there, being with 
his great family.
  But he was very encouraging. I was a little depressed. He said: You 
are a big-idea guy. Don't get discouraged when you propose big ideas 
like the CBO, getting rid of them, having competitive scoring, or 
having a--
  See, we get beat up every time we say: You know what? Like Dan 
Webster had found, we have 82 Federal programs charged with getting 
people to and from appointments, and we don't need 82 Federal agencies. 
Most of them have white, 20-seat vans, carry three people when they 
ever carry anybody.
  But if we try to eliminate one of the 82, well, you Republicans hate 
seniors or children or puppies or whatever it is. You are evil. So we 
keep 82 Federal programs to get people to and from agencies; whereas, 
if we could create--maybe it is a standing committee and we pull people 
from different committees--a public assistance committee where we have 
all 82 of those in every area of public assistance, we see all the 
duplication because it is all in the same committee, then we can start 
getting some kind of reasonable Federal Government back under control. 
Another idea that we just need to move on.
  But I have been joined by my friend, and I would be glad to yield to 
the gentleman from Nebraska (Mr. Bacon).

                  African-American History Commission

  Mr. BACON. Mr. Speaker, I thank my friend and colleague from Texas 
for yielding to me.
  I just want to take a few moments to thank the House for the work 
they did recently on H.R. 1242, and I want to urge the Senate to take 
action on this bill as well.
  So I rise today in support of H.R. 1242, entitled 400 Years of 
African-American History Commission Act. I am a cosponsor of this 
legislation. I worked with my colleagues to pass this act in the House, 
and I look forward to the Senate also passing this bill.
  I believe it is important for all citizens of the United States to 
recognize the unique history, sacrifices, and remarkable contributions 
that African Americans have made to build our great Nation.
  I am invigorated by this legislative intention to identify and 
educate the public on the arrival of Africans and their role in 
building this great country. It is equally important to understand the 
generational impact that slavery and laws that enforced racial 
discrimination have had on our United States.
  While there have been many successful and inspirational African 
Americans with enumerable contributions, we must address ongoing 
disparities in employment and education by focusing on achieving six 
milestones for success. These milestones include: entering school ready 
to learn; reading at grade level by third grade; graduating from high 
school ready for college or career; completing postsecondary education 
or training; successfully entering the workforce; reducing violence and 
providing a second chance for returning citizens.
  I applaud the many organizations actively working to address these 
opportunity gaps faced by African Americans. In my community of the 
Second Congressional District of Nebraska, I appreciate the efforts of 
Willie Hamilton, president and founder of Black Men United. He is a 
true grassroots leader.
  In addition, I want to highlight some other organizations and work 
that is ongoing in the district I serve to implement a coherent cradle-
to-college-and-career strategy for improving the life outcomes of all 
young people. These organizations include: the Urban League of 
Nebraska; the START Center, that is run by my friend, Julian Young; the 
Omaha Empowerment Network, coordinated by Willie Barney; the Eastern 
Nebraska Community Action Partnership; the 100 Black Men of Omaha; the 
Malcolm X Foundation; the Operation

[[Page H4600]]

Youth Success; members of the Midlands Mentoring Partnership; the 
efforts of the City of Omaha through the Black Male Achievement 
Program, previously coordinated by Cameron Gales, another friend of 
  Like all complicated issues facing Americans, we need this type of 
strong community support, along with smart bipartisan legislation to 
address these problems.
  As the African-American History Commission develops programs, I hope 
they will consider inspiring communities to continue building 
partnerships between local organizations, government, businesses, and 
foundations. This will connect young African-American men and women 
with support networks, mentoring programs, and the skills and training 
they need to succeed in the classroom and in the workforce.
  While we learn from and celebrate the past, we must also look to a 
much brighter future for all Americans.
  Mr. GOHMERT. Mr. Speaker, I appreciate those important observations. 
I would like to point out something that is not getting enough 
attention, as the media seems to be driven over issues like charge of 
misdemeanor assault on a reporter, or a Russian connection, these kind 
of things.
  This story by Luke Rosiak, May 22, ``Democratic Aide Suspected of 
Major Security Breach Under Government Protection in Pakistan.'' There 
are some really critical issues here. These Pakistani individuals--we 
don't know if they have fled now from the U.S., some gone back to 
Pakistan, but they have been working for our Democratic colleagues in 
the House--some of them--like my friend Debbie Wasserman Schultz, been 
working for her since 2005; may have worked for the DNC.
  Now, there are allegations of stealing, perhaps a couple of hundred 
thousand dollars or more of computer equipment from people here at the 
Hill; accessing the government information they should not have been 
allowed to access. They were banned from accessing the House system. 
One of them, particularly the one that has been working for Ms. 
Wasserman Schultz, apparently, according to the story, had stolen or 
taken a laptop of hers, hidden it, and a Capitol policeman found it.
  It is kind of important to us, even though the DNC never let the FBI, 
CIA, NSA, or any Federal agents examine the DNC computer system before 
they said: Oh, yeah, it is definitely the Russians.
  Really? How can you say it is definitely the Russians? You didn't 
even examine it.
  But that is the way things have been going lately. But this is 
regarding Congressional computer systems, and we need to get to the 
bottom of how badly our system has been compromised.
  In addition to the thefts and, you know, making over $4 million since 
2010, having people they owed money to--at least one--put on the 
system, now we learn he may have never visited the Hill, and still 
gotten over $200,000. Just a lot of issues need to be dried up, cleared 
up, but those are major issues that need to be clarified.
  No evidence of Russian collusion, but there is definitely evidence of 
Pakistani collusion and corruption through the fine Democratic Congress 
Members that they worked for. We just don't know how badly they 
corrupted the system. We know they got money that they surely should 
not have. But let's have an investigation into that.
  In the meantime, we owe it to all of those who gave their last full 
measure of devotion for this country, we owe it to them to do a better 
job here in Congress, passing better laws of giving people more liberty 
and more freedom for those who died for it.

                              {time}  1315

  There is one thing that is absolutely certain, and Jesus knew what He 
was talking about--John 15:13: ``Greater love has no one than this: to 
lay down one's life for one's friends.'' He knew. He did it.
  And for all of those, Mr. Speaker, who have laid down their lives for 
Americans and for those around the world for their liberty, we just say 
thank you. Thank God for you. May God continue to bless America by 
giving us such patriots in the days ahead.
  Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.