Living in the 6th Congressional District of Minnesota there is very little to be proud of in the way of congressional leadership. However, if you gaze your eyes to the southern swath of Minnesota you can find a leader that exemplifies everything good about our people driven government. Tim Walz, 1st District Representative, gave an exemplary speech this week on the floor of the House of Representatives.

The speech is split into five parts (Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, & Part 5) and highlights the economic realities facing average middle income Americans. With a folksy demeanor, Walz cuts through the rhetoric of Republican talking points and makes the case for continued Democratic leadership in Congress.



Mr. WALZ of Minnesota. Thank you for this opportunity to speak on the floor and to give this Chamber a demonstration of what is so great about this country. The previous gentleman's district actually borders mine, but you may not find a more diametrically opposed view of what is happening in this country than you may get in the next 28 minutes.

You hear a lot of statistics and you hear a lot things thrown out. You hear a lot of economists talking about different things. The one thing I have found, and I think maybe it comes from being new to this business of politics, coming from a high school classroom, coming out of what most middle class Americans are experiencing is, is that many of those things do not matter to people.

What matters to them is the reality in their everyday lives. And that reality doesn't take a whole lot of background from them. It doesn't take a whole lot of statistics. It doesn't take a whole lot of anything, other than for them to make some simple judgments.

One of those judgments that the American public is going to ask themselves, and they are going to get to ask themselves in November, after 12 straight years of Republican control of the House of Representatives, after 6 years of total control of both branches of the legislative procession, the American people got a chance to see by the fall of 2006 the direction that those policies had taken us in.

In watching that, they made a decision come November. They chose about 45 new Members of this body, many of them without elected office experience, but many of them who came from the ranks of middle class working people, many of them like myself that never had a salary over $50,000. Teaching for 18 years, my salary when I left my teaching position was $48,000 a year. My insurance costs coming off the top of that were $7,200 a year, and then the taxes that came after that.

One of the things the American public will ask is, were they better off before that time when President Bush and the Republican-controlled Congress took over, or were things going in the wrong direction? Were decisions made that were affecting their lives negatively, and what were those decisions doing to them?

What was happening, as you saw the previous speaker talk about, what was happening to the price of fuel? Why was gas going up and who was benefiting from it? Why was the cost of their produce, why was the cost of groceries going up, and who was benefiting from that? What was happening to the cost of tuition? What was happening to their paycheck? What was happening to insurance costs?

Those were questions that they don't get to stand here and theoretically talk about and come up with some cute alliteration that I always hear. My colleagues are wonderful at the alliteration, and somewhat weak on the policy that impacts people's lives.

So as I listened this week and I watched a concerted effort, and one of the magazines on Capitol Hill wrote about that our friends in the minority have decided they are going to try and pin the energy policies on the new majority, understanding that President Bush will veto any attempt we make to change policy.

The policies that we are operating under in this economy are the ones that were put into place by the minority and put into law by the President. The changes that have been attempted and those that have been made, such as CAFE standards, the fuel efficiency standards and improving them for the first time in 35 years, are so overwhelmingly accepted by the American public, those could not be ignored.

The ideology being expressed by the previous speaker I think is reflected in some. You don't need the polls when you go out and talk to people, but if you want to get to the data you are hearing them talking about, 72 percent of the American people disagree. Twenty-eight percent of the American people agree that President Bush's economic policies are the right direction for this country.

So when I hear talk about supply and demand, as if it is gravity, as if there have not been decisions made to influence either the supply chain or the demand by interests, by the growth, the astronomical growth of lobbyists, especially energy lobbyists at this place, it is bordering on the ridiculous. And when I hear about Adam Smith being talked about, the only "invisible hand'' that is operating in our energy markets is that invisible handshake that happened in the White House between the oil company executives when they created this current energy policy.