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Public Statements

The Federal Budget

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Location: Washington, DC


THE FEDERAL BUDGET -- (House of Representatives - October 25, 2005)

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Mr. KINGSTON. Madam Speaker, I thank the gentleman for that generous introduction. I was looking around to see who he might be talking about for a while. Before the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Neugebauer) leaves, I have a rhetorical question because I know the answer to it, but is it not true that the State of Texas is looking at privatizing part of its food stamp distribution program?

Mr. NEUGEBAUER. That is correct. The State of Texas is looking for innovative ways to make sure that we cut down on the waste, fraud, and abuse and also to deliver that service in the most cost-effective way.

Mr. KINGSTON. And is it not also true that in doing that, you save the taxpayers money and actually have not hurt the food stamp participation level a bit?

Mr. NEUGEBAUER. The gentleman is correct. Because what happens is when we begin to think outside the box and be creative and innovative, what we actually do is we save the taxpayers money, but we also at the same time generate more program money for those people that really need those benefits.

Mr. KINGSTON. Well, the reason why I asked that before the gentleman leaves is today, in agriculture appropriations, we had probably about a 1-hour debate on the State of Texas's right to privatize part of its food stamp distribution. One of the things that is ridiculous about the proponents of this, and they are all the liberal Democrat faction, is that States should not be able to have the right to privatize something without permission of Congress, because I guess here in Washington people know more about Texas than the good folks down in Austin. I understand Pennsylvania, Florida, and New York are also looking at these privatization plans. It is just a distribution method which they found to be more effective.

Madam Speaker, when I think about the private sector, which they fear so much, I think about companies like AOL and UPS and Home Depot and Cingular Wireless. When I think about the Federal Government, I think about the IRS, the Immigration Service, FEMA, and the post office. Yet here are these folks who are defending the Federal Government and saying that they should not get involved with the private sector. But that is just one amendment that we are fighting that saves taxpayers' dollars that we want to make sure that States have the right.

But there are some other examples of savings that we are trying to get out of this budget. One of them was

one that the gentleman from Texas and the gentlewoman from North Carolina supported, and that is the elimination of the mounted police unit here in Washington, D.C. The Capitol Police had horses for horse patrol. They were not patrolling parades or anything like this, but the horses were brought in from a 60-mile round trip every day so that they could parade around, walk around the 95-acre Capitol campus. The cost of that not only was $200,000 just to bring them in, but it was $50,000 to clean up the manure that these horses left on the Capitol grounds. Now, any casual observer of Washington knows that we have our own manure around here and we do not need horses imported so we could have more of it, but that is an example of something we have eliminated.

Another thing that we eliminated from the budget was the exchanges with the historic Whaling and Trading Partners program. It is a $9 million program that was specialized for the folks in Hawaii, Massachusetts, and Alaska; and it was for competitive cultural grants to study the history of whaling, $9 million; and it was a competitive process, but it only went to three States, so there was not a heck of a lot of competition in it.

Then another one is the Robert Byrd Scholarship program, $41 million. Now, the Byrd scholarship program on the surface, it sounds like a good idea, helps people go to school, it pays $1,500 for a college education. The only problem is we already have a Pell grant. Pell grants pay $4,100 to do the exact same thing.

Then there is the Advanced Technology Program. The Advanced Technology Program was to spur research and development of technology in small businesses. Well, the only problem is, 35 percent of the money, and it is a $136 million program, by the way, 35 percent of the money went to Fortune 500 companies such as IBM, General Electric, and General Motors, hardly small business innovation. Then when the General Accounting Office investigated the whole Advanced Technology Program, they found that all the research dollars that were going on were already being done by the private sector, not costing the taxpayers any money, and the duplication was impossible to eliminate.

I am going to yield back, because I know the gentlewoman from North Carolina wants to speak. But I want to say that in the appropriations process, the four programs that I have mentioned, we have eliminated approximately 90 such programs, duplicative, ridiculous, and unnecessary. We have fought back about $61 billion in the last 3 years of spending increases which the gentleman from Wisconsin (Mr. Obey), the ranking member, and the Democrats have rallied behind year after year, $61 billion; and these are from the people who tell us we are spending too much money. I agree we are spending too much money, but their solution is to spend $61 billion more than what we are doing.

So there are a lot of things that are going on in the Committee on Appropriations. We want to offset the cost of Katrina. We think the fat is in the budget to do so, and we stand behind the good work of Operation Offset. Madam Speaker, I want to thank the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Hensarling) for giving me a few minutes.

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Mr. KINGSTON. In 1996, when we passed welfare reform, there were 14 million people on welfare. The number dropped to 5 million. Still too many, but that is 9 million people who are not taking from the government, but are contributing to the government, and they are able-bodied people, who, as you said, found out working has it own rewards and have derived a lot of pleasure and satisfaction from holding a job.

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