THE MATH IS ALWAYS THE MATH; Congressional Record Vol. 166, No. 4
(House of Representatives - January 08, 2020)

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[Pages H53-H56]
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                              {time}  1745
                      THE MATH IS ALWAYS THE MATH

  The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Cunningham). Under the Speaker's 
announced policy of January 3, 2019, the gentleman from Arizona (Mr. 
Schweikert) is recognized for 60 minutes as the designee of the 
minority leader.
  Mr. SCHWEIKERT. Mr. Speaker, I will cover two or three different 
subjects today, a little different than we typically come and we walk 
through some of the economic data and the concept of I believe the 
greatest threat to our society is not telling the truth about the scale 
of the unfunded liabilities, the promises we have made and the fact of 
the matter that there is no mathematical way we keep those promises.
  I have the blessing of being here in Congress. I have been here 9 
years, and I have grown to just this intense frustration that we do 
math through a partisan lens.
  We have a family saying: The math always wins; the math always 
eventually wins. So why is it so hard in this place to actually tell 
the truth, to own a calculator and say: Here is what is going to 
happen; here are our demographics, but here are also the good things 
that are working?
  Another thing I actually got from my father years ago is: Figure out 
what works, and do more of that; figure out what doesn't work, and do 
less of that.
  So think about this.
  Over the Christmas break, I did lots and lots of reading and was 
absolutely just furious and frustrated with a number of columns that I 
came across talking about the 2-year anniversary of tax reform where we 
rewrote much of the tax code to grow the U.S. economy, and we had some 
of the, I will call them, the smartest--at least, the most well-known--
economist commentators on the left side trashing the tax reform.
  Except, you will notice, if any of you pull up those articles--if you 
are willing to--go back and look at the fact they use almost no math in 
them. There are no numbers: We just didn't like this. We thought they 
should have done this.
  Having the blessing of being on the Committee on Ways and Means, 
having the blessing of having worked on the tax reform, I do understand 
much of what the corporate portion of tax reform was based on: the 
Obama administration's recommendations and modeling to make us 
competitive in the world again.
  But, once again, we work in a place where, if I walk into the room 
and I am a conservative and I say the sky is blue, instantly, there is 
this knee-jerk reaction from my brothers and sisters

[[Page H54]]

on the other side--and, please, understand, we are sinners, too--who 
say, no, it is not.
  The math is the math.
  So just for the fun of it, I pulled up a number of the headlines from 
2 years ago when we were working on tax reform, when we had just 
finished tax reform. Liberal columnist after liberal columnist 
basically spoke of Armageddon, spoke that the world is going to fall 
apart, said this is going to crush and hurt people.
  Mr. Speaker, understand, the last 2 years have been some of the most 
remarkable progress in modern U.S. history for the working poor.
  We come behind these microphones and we pretend we care about the 
poor, particularly the working poor. Do you understand what is 
happening in the math? Because the math will always win, and the math 
is the truth.
  When we did tax reform a couple years ago, did you think we would 
live in a country with more jobs than workers, where the bottom 10 
percent of workers, income-wise--what we refer to as the working poor--
would have wages growing more than two times the mean and, in some 
quarters, almost four times the mean in wages?
  I know the math gets a little confusing, but it is important. You 
can't walk around here and say you care about the poor, particularly 
the working poor, and then not have some little joy in your heart about 
what has gone on the last 2 years, particularly this last year.
  Remember, last year, a woman with no partner in the house had a 7.6 
percent growth in wages. We are seeing remarkable growth in wages for 
the very folks who have been most dispossessed over the previous 
decade. And, yes, I will have a chart that actually shows that.
  Why is the truth off your calculator seen through partisan lenses? 
Why can't we just take a breath and say, hey, something really is 
working. Was it tax reform? Was it some of the things done regulatory-
  Because, remember, if you go back just a couple years ago--and I have 
sat on the Joint Economic Committee now for a few years--we were being 
told, with the headwinds of our demographics, we were in for 
stagnation. Do you remember 4 years ago? 5 years ago? 3 years ago? That 
was the new normal.
  Do we get an apology from the folks who wrote these headlines that 
had been so dramatically wrong?
  Let's just walk through some of the tax reform data so we are 
actually living in the reality of the math, and there is a simple point 
I want to make.
  2017 fiscal year, so the end of the fiscal year, and then during that 
time we were working on tax reform, do you know what the growth and 
receipts were for this country? They were 1 percent. They were 1 
percent--functionally, not even at inflation. We were falling behind. 
And this is under the old tax code that the writers of those headlines 
were functionally defending.
  Do you know what tax receipts--we don't call it revenues; we call it 
receipts--were at the end of last fiscal year, the one we ended at the 
end of September? We grew slightly more than 4 percent in our receipts.
  Now, we still have a spending problem around here. We have a 
tremendous demographics problem. That is one of the other things we 
never tell the truth about is the substantial portion of our spending 
is actually driven by our demographics, which isn't Republican or 
  We are getting older very quickly as a society. But, once again, are 
we able to get up in front of our groups at home or fellow Members of 
Congress and not see the math through partisan lenses, because the math 
is the math.
  Our birthrates have collapsed as a society. Remember, we had only 12 
States last year, in really good economic times, that actually had 
growth in their birthrates, and some of those were just by a couple 
  We need to tell the truth about the math.
  And I have been coming behind this microphone almost every week we 
are here saying there is a unified theory of, if you do the things that 
are necessary in tax reform, as we are talking about right now, and do 
the things necessary in immigration, do the things in labor force 
participation, encouragement, if you do the things in adoption of 
technology that crashes the price of healthcare, if you do these things 
and bring them all together, we can make the math work where we do not 
get crushed, as a nation, by our debt.
  But we can't even do simple things by agreeing upon it. We can't even 
agree when the math actually says it worked. We still have to spin it 
through partisan lenses.
  So the chart next to me is just very, very, very simple. It is `17, 
`18, `19 receipts--not revenues, receipts. Do you notice something?
  Remember, the columnists before, the economists, my brothers and 
sisters on the left were telling us revenues are going to crash, it is 
the Armageddon, this is the Apocalypse--except for one small problem: 
We have had some of the fastest growing revenues we have had in modern 
  The math is the math.
  And, look, I have been there. I have been one of those who believe 
something. You get the data, and you have to swallow and say: I was 
  Except this place is incapable of stepping up and saying: Hey, 
something is working. Maybe we should figure out what is working and 
find a way to do more of it.
  Because, once again, this has been some of the most remarkable wage 
growth for our brothers and sisters, particularly in the lower 
quartiles. I hate that terminology, but if you want to designate the 
working poor, we have had more movement.
  And there are a couple modelers out there--I don't know if the 
numbers will be real--looking at the 2019 fiscal year and saying that 
might be the first year where wage and equality actually stayed flat or 
didn't grow or maybe even shrank because those at the lower income 
spectrum have had the fastest growing wage movement. Why can't we take 
some joy in that and work on it?
  The fact of the matter is the math is the math. So a simple point: 
  One more time, 2017, the fiscal year before tax reform, 1 percent 
growth in revenues, receipts; last fiscal year, over 4 percent growth 
under the new tax code.
  How is that possible?
  It turns out it is, and it was possible in a really joyous way 
because people were working.
  If you take a step back and think of so many of the programs we have 
as the safety net to help our brothers and sisters when they are in 
hard times, there should have been dramatically less demand on those 
programs because so many people were working.
  If you look at the BLS numbers, Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers, 
the numbers that have moved back into the labor force were now--what?--
over 63 percent labor force participation. I can show you an economic 
paper from 3 or 4 years ago saying we were never going to get close to 
that again until we get through the baby boomers.
  Something is working.
  We are seeing numbers where hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of 
thousands of people are coming back into the labor force who were not 
even looking. Why isn't this joyful?
  Look, let me relay a simple experience.
  The Phoenix area, we have a homeless campus. I have been, on and off, 
involved with it for many, many years. I believe we do something very, 
very well. We do a concentration of services with many churches and 
charities: Over here, dental work; over here, you get your ID; over 
here, there is like 24-hour-a-day AA meetings and here are some bunk 
beds for those; over here, St. Joseph the Worker that will help 
individuals get work, the Catholic charity. And they have a situation 
where they have a stack of job opportunities because there is such a 
labor shortage in the Phoenix market.
  I am very pleased we just worked out a deal, or they worked out a 
deal, with Lyft to help deal with the transition barrier of getting 
these individuals to work.
  But shouldn't there be joy in this body and our society that there is 
such a labor shortage that businesses and organizations are taking 
chances on the folks we used to just completely write off?

                              {time}  1800

  Remember, it was only a couple of years ago, we would give speeches 
around here; if you hadn't finished high school, if you hadn't 
developed certain skills you were going to be part of the permanent 
underclass. We were writing

[[Page H55]]

you off. We were walking away from you as a society.
  And guess what happened?
  Something happened, whether it be the Tax Code or other things that 
we have done that there is such a demand for their labor, for their 
work, and their wages are going up faster than any other quartile.
  You can't come behind these microphones and give speeches about how 
you care, and then not actually take a step back and say, something is 
working. How do we do more of it?
  So let's actually take a look at the reality of the math of the last 
couple of decades. The red line are the high-income earners. The blue 
line are those in the 25 percent or lower quartile. So let's call it 
the bottom-25-percent quartile.
  And I know this geeks out, but let's go to about 2010 and over. And 
you see through 2010, 2015, about 2016, higher-income earners were 
winning the battle. Huge separation. They were making money, while that 
lower population that we were walking away from, that didn't have the 
high school education, didn't have the higher skill set, their wages 
were crashing.
  And then something happened over here. That's about the time of tax 
reform. Do you notice the separation?
  It turns out their labor became valuable, became something in demand, 
became something that employers had to pay more for. Isn't that what we 
were trying to accomplish? It is in the math.
  So it frustrates me that you will come across these articles that 
completely demagogue tax reform; refuse to actually use the math; and 
then not embrace the fact that it has been one of the most remarkable 
couple of years in modern history in the United States of the working 
poor starting to see their wages move forward, move up, their labor 
having value in our society again.
  Look, for many of us, we truly believe economic growth is moral. It 
helps families; it helps individuals; it helps self-worth. It produces 
  Yet, we seem to completely turn the discussion of the things that 
create that economic growth into a partisan battle, a partisan malaise. 
And it breaks my heart, because the chart I just put up, this is the 
greatest threat not only to my 4-year-old daughter, but I believe to 
every American.
  Do you understand what is coming at us?
  This is a 30-year chart. It is not inflation-adjusted. But the math 
is true and honest because it is done by an outside group that is 
  If I strip Social Security and Medicare out of the 30-year number--we 
have $23 trillion in the bank. If you pull Social Security and mostly, 
it is mostly Medicare, back in, the promise, these are earned promises 
that we have a moral obligation to keep, we are $103 trillion in debt. 
This is over the next 30 years.
  Isn't that an incredible moral obligation for this body to tell the 
truth on? Because these sorts of numbers, you can take every dime of 
the rich and you don't get anywhere near it. You can cut the benefits, 
and you still don't get--you cannot deal with these numbers and not 
crash the U.S. economy and crash the world economy by doing so.
  Our office, and a handful of others, we have been trying to make the 
argument: tax reform, grow the economy. Incentives to be in the labor 
force, grow the economy. Legalize technology that can crash the price 
of healthcare because so much of this Medicare here, that is the 
massive driver of the debt.
  We can have disruptions. Do you realize almost 30 percent of that 
Medicare spending is just going to be diabetes? So investment in 
diabetes research is a smart investment.
  But also, so are other technologies. The thing you can blow into that 
instantly tells you you have the flu, and allowing it, that technology, 
to be part of how you keep yourself healthy.
  But the reality here is, there is no magic bullet. You have got to 
grow the economy. And we have demonstrated the growth in these 24 
months since we did tax reform it is working. One of the pillars is 
working. How do we build off of it? Because you don't try to make major 
policy changes in a time of economic stress. Do it in a time when you 
actually have economic stability and build off of it, because this is 
the greatest threat to our society. It is demographics. It is not 
Republican or Democrat.
  It is baby boomers. There are 74 million of us who were born in an 
18-year period. We earned our benefits. The problem is--what is it? For 
the Medicare spending, we will put in, what? $150,000. We are going to 
take out close to $500,000. Now multiply that difference by 74 million. 
These are the issues that should be driving every bit of policy.
  The simple way is to give this a thought experiment: the next 5 
years, just the growth--next 5 years, just the growth of Social 
Security, Medicare, and the other healthcare entitlements, just the 
growth, equals the entire Defense Department spending.
  So if you start to do that math, you could functionally get rid of 
every portion of discretionary spending except defense, and you buy 
yourself 5 years.
  I know this is uncomfortable. It is very hard to go home and talk to 
constituents that, on the Republican side, we can take care of waste 
and fraud. On the Democrat side, we can tax rich people more. That math 
is completely fraudulent.
  Why is it so hard to pull out a calculator?
  I accept we work substantially in a math-free zone, but when we do 
math, don't see it through the lenses of partisanship. It is math.
  So, look, I wanted to do a little cheerleading for my home. I am 
blessed to be from Arizona. We have worked really hard to be friendly 
to those who are willing to come to our state and open up new 
businesses. We have worked really hard to limit the bureaucracy. We 
have worked really hard to make it easy, as a State, for you to file 
paperwork online, to do these things efficiently, and our State has 

  We are functioning at the very top of economic growth, population 
growth. There have actually even been quarters in the last couple of 
years where we have also had the fastest wage growth.
  But it is a demonstration that many, many Americans are making 
economic decisions, packing up their lives in a lot of parts of the 
country and moving to places like Arizona. I think we are number three 
in total growth. And when you consider we are only a State of about 
7.25 million people, when you add, you know, when you do the per 
population growth, we are at the very top.
  Arizona, we should be very, very proud. We have been very 
disciplined. We have built good infrastructure. We have managed our 
water supplies. Power, electrical power is abundant. And we have been 
friendly to those willing to bring businesses because they create jobs, 
they create opportunities. They create growth in wages.
  Now, it looks like the rest of the country is starting to see the 
headlines. So a community I grew up around, Scottsdale, I believe, just 
got rated number one for being able to find a job. Much of the rest of 
the community, incredibly well.
  But think of some of the--I am trying to build an argument here that 
if economic growth is moral, then you see headlines like this, where 
when we do surveys about food insecurity, food insecurity is the lowest 
in a decade because of that economic growth, because of those folks 
that we were writing off just a couple of years ago who now, their 
labor is in demand, their wages are up, and we start to see headlines 
like ``Food Insecurity At a Decade Low in Arizona.''
  Why is it so hard to understand doing smart tax policy, doing so many 
other smart economic policies truly are the path to helping our 
brothers and sisters who have less?
  We always start and end with this chart. If we care about what is 
actually going on, if Congress intends to keep the promises to 
Americans for their Social Security and Medicare, if we believe it is a 
moral obligation of our society to keep that promise, then you need to 
deal with the reality that the unfunded liabilities are monstrous.
  There is a path, but it is not a path of paying off the debt. It is 
basically a path of, I believe, in our model in our office, staying 
about 95 percent debt to GDP, so we don't blow up and get through the 
demographic bubble that is those of us who are baby boomers. But we 
have to do everything. You have to have that and legalize technology 
that crashes the price of so

[[Page H56]]

many things, makes the environment cleaner, makes healthcare much more 
affordable and available. Employment, we have to do everything for 
those who are older, to encourage them to participate in the labor 
force. Add some ``spiffs,'' add some benefits.
  How do we get millennial men that are still dramatically 
underperforming in showing up in the labor force?
  About a year ago, we had an amazing breakthrough, mathematically-
wise, millennial females entering the workforce.
  Every policy that moves through here we should test; does this 
benefit economic growth?
  When we work on immigration policy, are we doing a talent-based 
immigration system, where we don't care about your religion, your 
gender, or who you cuddle with or anything like that? We care about the 
economic vitality you bring to our society.
  How do we encourage family formation?
  Think of that. This one article here talks about only 12 States 
actually had positive birth rates over the previous year.
  I know we get caught up in today's shiny object; you know, whether it 
is the we hate the President side of this room, or we feel we are stuck 
defending. And we are completely missing what is going to end up 
driving all public policy in the next couple of years, and that is the 
fact that we are going to be crushed by our debt.
  There is a path. My fear is this current Congress, are we actually 
capable of doing complex policy, lots of complex policy on every issue, 
and seeing it as a unified theory to maximize economic vitality so we 
actually have the receipts, so we keep the promises that we go home and 
tell our constituents we are working for? But, yet, then we come here 
and we deny basic math.
  Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.