A picture of Representative Mark Sanford
Marshall S.
Republican SC 1

About Rep. Marshall
  • The Price of Civilization

    by Representative Mark Sanford

    Posted on 2015-12-17

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    SANFORD. Mr. Speaker, I want to dovetail for one moment on the conversation that was just held by my colleagues from across the aisle. I think that they have been courageous. I think about Sam Farr and I think about Barbara Lee, and what they have pushed for, ultimately, has less to do with Cuba--though they might argue otherwise--and more to do with American rights.

    I would give, just as an example, that this whole notion of a travel moratorium as it now exists from the United States to Cuba is nonsensical--they have been bold enough to point that out--and many other things for quite some number of years. They have led the way on this issue.

    I just want to applaud them because, if you stop and think about it, as an American, you can travel to any country on the globe--except for one. You can go to North Korea. You can go to Syria. You can go to Iran, and you could go to Iraq. It may not work out well for you, but you can go to anyplace on the globe except for a place roughly 60 miles off of Key West. That is a remarkable infringement on American liberty at the end of the day. So I thank them for what they have done not only on behalf of the Cuban people, but, ultimately, to advance this larger notion of individual liberty here in this country.

    With that having been said, I also want to touch for one moment on the Progressive Hour that preceded my time. It was said during that hour that taxes ``are the cost of living in a civilized society.'' I think the question that all of us would have to ask is: How civilized a society do you want to live in then? I have told my boys about this magazine that they will one day read, entitled, Reader's Digest, and when they poll the different readers, they came out with the finding that Americans would be roughly happy with one-quarter of their wages garnished and sent [[Page H9686]] off to the world of taxes, whether at the Federal, State, or local level.

    The reality, as is pointed out by a guy by the name of Laurence Kotlikoff, who studied a thing called generational accounting at Boston University, is that a child born into America today will face roughly an 82 percent tax liability, which is to say, if that is the cost of civilization, many people would say: I want a much less civilized society, because 82 percent does not allow me to be civilized in the way to offer Christmas presents to my kids at Christmastime, help out at the local church or charity, pay for my kids' education, or all the other things that go with life.

    So, yes, we recognize that taxes are a part of civilized society, but the degree of tax load that faces this next generation is not only astounding, but it ultimately brings with it the roots of our civilization's undoing if we don't watch out, which will bring me to what I wanted to talk about just a moment ago.

    In the military, they have a thing called an after-action review. An after-action review is simply saying: Let's look at what just occurred and analyze for one moment what did we get right and what did we get wrong and how might we not get it a little bit better the next time around.

    In that light, I want to look at the omnibus bill. Debate is done. We will vote on it tomorrow morning, and we will head for Christmas and holiday seasons across this country. In that regard, I offer empathy to Hal Rogers, the Appropriations team, and all in leadership who were involved in the negotiating process, which--I get it--was hard. I think that it is easy to Monday afternoon quarterback these kind of things, and my attempt to analyze is not an attempt to do that. There was a plus and minus, in essence, for every Member of Congress.

    There is something to like in a trillion-dollar bill, and there is something to dislike in a trillion-dollar bill of 2,000 pages. So when I go down the pluses and the minuses, coming from Charleston, South Carolina, you would look at something like Guantanamo Bay, and you would say: I think it is a plus that there is another prohibition on domestically relocating high-value targets from Guantanamo Bay to the United States of America. I think that makes sense. It is, in fact, the third prohibition that this Congress has put in place. The other two the President has signed, and my hope is that he will certainly adhere to that here for the last couple months of his Presidency.

    I think that fully funding the military, which is a core function of the Federal Government, is a plus. I could go with a number of other pluses. I will mention minuses, though.

    I don't think what should have been done was done with regard to Syrian refugees.

    I don't think what could have been done was done with regard to Planned Parenthood.

    I look at a program like the Maritime SEA program--$5.4 million a ship. It is corporate welfare if you want to cut to the chase. I think that is a real challenge. Programs like that shouldn't have been in this bill.

    I look at the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act of 2015. I think it is an infringement upon our Fourth Amendment rights as Americans.

    Mr. Speaker, I think that civil liberties are really the foundation to every other liberty that we enjoy as Americans, and I think that there are real challenges there. The Founding Fathers were so deliberate about putting in place civil liberties because they didn't like the idea of a British soldier coming into a house and rooting around long enough until they found something to charge you with. I think what we have in this bill is an extension of that infringement that was guarded against at the time of the founding of the Republic.

    I look at the crude oil export ban coming down. I know that is viewed as a positive thing within the Chamber. As a coastal resident, I view it as a negative. To me, it is a bit of an oxymoron. To say, ``I tell you what. We are going to ship oil offshore, but we are now going to begin to open up for exploration areas that had been prohibited, not been open for exploration, off the Carolinas under the guise of energy independence, but we are going to take what we might find there and ship it to France,'' to me, that just doesn't make sense. I struggle with that.

    I struggle with the EPA ruling. The EPA has made a giant territorial grab with regard to waters--or nonwaters, if you want to call them that--of the United States. So I think, again, more could have been done.

    For those different reasons, I am ultimately going to vote ``no'' on this tomorrow.

    {time} 1615 I think that, in terms of my after-action review, the point is not to pick the pluses and the minuses because they are in a bill this big, but to highlight the way in which the taxpayer always loses when you end up with a giant amalgamated total at the end of the session.

    An omnibus bill inherently is bad for the taxpayer because it gives everybody in the world of politics a reason to vote for it or to vote against it. Whoever comes up at your townhall meeting or at the rotary club back home, you are able to say: I was for you. I was with you.

    Because there is unlimited disguise in one's ability to be for or against a Christmas tree sort of bill with as many ornaments as this one has on it.

    I just want to highlight that this bill ultimately is a plus of about $50 billion. $50 billion, if broken out across the United States, is about $400 of additional spending per family.

    The question I think we each have to ask, as taxpayer advocates, is: Is another $400 going to Washington in line with what my taxpayers want or would they rather have that money at home to spend, indeed, on Christmas presents under the tree or a host of other family needs? If you add to that the entitlement spending that is going to occur at the same time--that is roughly about another $194 billion--you begin to look at startling increases that continue to progress.

    I look at this bill and I say that the one loser in this equation is the taxpayer, regardless of what a good job Hal Rogers and others on the appropriation team attempted to do because of the nature of the bill--the fact is that we are looking at an omnibus bill.

    It is my Christmas tree wish, as we go into the season, that next year come this time we are not going to face an omnibus bill. Speaker Ryan has promised that that will be the case and we will go back to so- called regular order.

    I just want to emphasize that it is vital from a taxpayer standpoint that we do so. Because, if we don't, the undoing of our civilization is being laid at rest not with the threat of terrorism. Terrorism brings with it the capacity to hurt a nation, to kill thousands or to kill hundreds. It doesn't bring with it the ability to bring down a nation.

    What brings the ability to bring down a nation is rot from within. The former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said it best when he was asked what is the biggest threat to America. His answer was not the Chinese, not terrorism, not a whole host of threats around the globe. His answer was the American debt.

    The omnibus bill that we will pass tomorrow is a threat with regard to the growth of entitlement spending, domestic discretionary spending, and overall spending. It is vital that we get this process right next year.

    Mr. Speaker, I do wish you a Merry Christmas.

    Before I call it quits, I yield to the gentleman from Georgia (Mr. Collins), who I also wish a Merry Christmas to.

    Honoring Dr. Meg Whitley

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