March 17, 2009
Washington, DC—Nevada Senator Harry Reid made the following statement today on the floor of the U.S. Senate.
Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
“Eight years of greed and negligence have left our country with the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. President Obama took office in an economic climate that no President would relish: Staggering job loss. The largest national debt in history. A frozen credit market. Major banks teetering on the edge of insolvency. A record foreclosure rate, forcing millions of families to lose their homes. A stock market in freefall, leaving senior citizens to put retirement on hold and putting the economic security of millions more at risk.
“The first job of any doctor is to stabilize the patient. In the first two months of his administration, President Obama has started to stop the bleeding and begin to heal our economy. The cornerstone of the President’s near-term plan to end the freefall he inherited is the Economic Recovery Act, which will save and create three-and-a-half million jobs while making critically needed investments in roads, bridges, tunnels, education, health care and energy.
“And President Obama, along with Democrats in Congress, understands that as deep as our immediate problems may be, the worst mistake we could make is to stop investing for the future. That’s why the President’s budget proposal lays the groundwork for an economy that doesn’t just recover in the short term, but also prospers in the long term. That starts with ending the previous administration’s era of passing the buck, refusing to make tough choices, to plan for the future or to hold anyone accountable for greed and corruption.
“There will be no accounting tricks in the Obama budget – there will be honesty, accountability, lower taxes for working families and smart investments for a long-term prosperity that reaches beyond the privileged to lift up the middle class.
“One of the most critical investments we can make today is in a new national energy policy that finally begins to end our addiction to oil. Since the first Model-T left the assembly line more than eighty years ago, the risks associated with oil consumption have been known. Today, we face a three-pronged oil crisis – threatening our economy, our national security and our environment.
“After years of simply writing bigger and bigger checks to foreign nations for more and more barrels of oil, this budget finally takes the logical approach that all Americans understand: we need to reduce our consumption and we need to find new, renewable sources of clean energy that we can grow right here at home, creating hundreds of thousands of good new jobs right here at home.
“We must make these investments now – and if we do, we will not only accomplish those goals, but also lower future energy bills for every single American consumer and save money for every middle-class family. That’s why President Obama is proposing a market-based cap on carbon pollution to drive production of renewable fuels and energy efficient technology – and rewards companies who lead the way.
“This budget will also invest $15 billion a year to develop the renewable sources of energy that lie literally all around us – in the sun, the wind, and just beneath the earth in geothermal. All across America, the work of tapping these plentiful energy sources is underway. In Pennsylvania, renewable energy has sparked more than $1 billion in private investment. In Iowa, shuttered factories have reopened to build parts for wind turbines. In Nevada – a state I call the Saudi Arabia of renewable energy – we already have enough renewable energy projects in operation to heat and cool hundreds of thousands of homes, all without a drop of oil.
“If we make renewable energy a priority in this budget, these projects will just be the beginning. The solar power in Nevada and the desert southwest alone could meet our entire energy needs seven times over. The wind energy in the Great Plains, the Midwest and off both of our coasts is similarly abundant. And the potential for geothermal energy, still largely untapped, is simply staggering.
“Until recently, all of these outstanding projects have been moving forward with little federal support. Our landscape is dotted with renewable energy projects, but right now, we’re not connecting the dots. That has to end – and it will end when we begin to invest in a smarter and greener transmission grid that brings renewable energy from the places that produce it to the places that will use it.
“We should be catalyzing the work of private sector innovators who are carrying the green revolution on their shoulders. Every job created by a new renewable energy project in California, Utah, Illinois, Nevada or Iowa is a job that can never be shipped overseas.
“Some on the other side may try to protect our country’s biggest corporate polluters from cleaning up their act. Some may say that in this time of economic crisis, we should not be investing in our future. Some may criticize the President’s budget, yet refuse to offer ideas of their own.
“Over the next several weeks, we have an opportunity to engage in a serious and vigorous debate over this budget and the priorities it reflects. In this debate, I urge all of my colleagues to choose sound policy over sound bites. We may not agree on everything, but I know we can agree that after eight long years of irresponsibility, we must pass a budget that puts the American people first.”
RenoBruce R. Thompson
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