Congressional Progressive Caucus Hour: Sequestrationby Representative Lois Frankel
Posted on 2013-02-27
FRANKEL of Florida. Thank you, Congressman, and thank you for
inviting me to join you today. I don't want to go through all the
statistics. I guess I could because sometimes we forget that we're
talking about real people. Let me just keep it very, very simple.
First of all, in the State of Florida, the beautiful State of Florida--I tell people I live in paradise--we're finally turning the corner with the economy. Over the last several years, we literally lost millions of jobs. Our construction industry went bust. Of course, the whole country was hurting, so tourism got hurt. And now we're starting to turn things around. The value of our homes is going up, the tourists are coming back, and people are finding work.
The worst thing that could happen right now--the worst thing that we could do here in Congress to our economy back home--is to remove so much money in such a quick time from our economy that it would put our job market in a tailspin. Outside analysts say that just in the State of Florida, over the next year, we could lose 80,000 jobs. Now, we're not talking about 80,000 government jobs. We're talking about the removal of government spending--that horrible government spending--from our economy. It will mean 80,000 Floridians, mom and pops are not going to be able to pay their mortgage or send their kids to college. And they could be a teacher, or they could be a bus driver, or they could be a manager in a hotel. It's going to affect all walks of life.
Just like your State--and I heard Mr. Pocan talk about the effects where he lives--we will lose money from education, our science programs, and our transportation infrastructure. But what I want to talk about is a couple people today. I want to talk about real people.
I talked earlier today about Ruth. I don't know if you heard me talk about Ruth, but if you didn't hear me talk about Ruth, I want you to know about Ruth, because Ruth is 91 years old. Congratulations, Ruth, for getting that far along in life.
But let me tell you what happens when you get to be 91. I know. I'm not 91 yet, but I have a lot of constituents in Florida who have retired to the area where I live. Do you know what happens when you get to be 91? So many of the people who you love, so many of the people who you grew up with, your children, your friends, your neighbors, they pass on. And by the time you get to be 91 and you've moved away from your family--in Florida it happens often--you are left alone. So when Ruth came home from a stay in the hospital, she was alone. She had no ability, by herself, to shop and to cook, and she could barely get out of bed. She had nobody to help her, except she had us. She had us, the safety net of the United States of America.
With the safety net of the United States of America, she had delivered to her, on a regular basis, meals from a program called Meals on Wheels, so she could eat every day. It astonishes me that on Friday--it's Friday, right? On Friday, we hit a phase of our history, what we call sequestration, which means that literally hundreds of thousands of our seniors like Ruth across this country face the prospect of not having a meal each day.
I'm going to tell you one more story, and then I'm going to yield back. This is a story of a young woman named Tanjee. And this is a good story, because Tanjee, when she was a young mother, a young single mother, when she was working really hard but not making a lot of money--a lot of people in this country work really hard but they don't make a lot of money--and she has four children. And in order for her to go to work every day to provide for those children, she needed to leave them in a safe, nurturing environment, and she did so in a location in my town called the YWCA. They had a Head Start program. And today, her children, one has become a teacher, one is in the military, and two are in high school. What would have happened to her children had the United States of America not been there for her? I want everybody to know that it's not just about numbers. There's lots of numbers. This is about flesh-and-blood people who are going to be hurt by our inaction.
So, with that, Congressman, I want to yield my time back to you and thank you for inviting me to participate today. Let's keep fighting to stop the sequestration, and let's get our fiscal house in order in this country in a balanced way and not in a way to kick people out of jobs and take food from seniors and quality child care from children.