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Tom Lantos and Henry J. Hyde United States Global Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria Reauthorization Act of 2008 - Continued

Floor Speech

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Location: Washington, DC


TOM LANTOS AND HENRY J. HYDE UNITED STATES GLOBAL LEADERSHIP AGAINST HIV/AIDS, TUBERCULOSIS, AND MALARIA REAUTHORIZATION ACT OF 2008--Continued -- (Senate - July 16, 2008)

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Mr. COBURN. First of all, let me thank Senator Biden and Senator Lugar for their hard work, and the staffs especially, as well as the White House, in working with us to accomplish what I think--and I believe others think--were significant policy changes that will make a real difference for people in other countries. There is no question about it.

I never approached, in any of my negotiations with the White House or either of the staffs, the cost of this bill, and I am concerned about that. We all should be concerned. The $50 billion, we are going to authorize it, and this is one that is going to get spent. This money is going to be appropriated. Everybody knows that. The question, then, becomes, where is it going to come from?

Although I think this is our most successful foreign policy initiative in my lifetime--I was born after the Marshall Plan started or thereabouts--I think this is the most effective thing we have done to build American prestige, esteem, and respect and thankfulness that we have done in my lifetime. When we look at the 2 million people who are now vibrant and vigorous and not wasting, who don't have a secondary disease such as Senator Brown talked about, what it does is it gives them hope, but it ought to give us hope. So I am extremely appreciative of the very cooperative attitude.

It has been said in recent days that you can't work with me. You can't negotiate with Tom Coburn. Well, I will tell my colleagues we negotiated a pretty good fix to a pretty good bill that is going to make a lot of difference in a lot of people's lives. Talking about the Genetic Nondiscrimination Act, people said it couldn't work, but we passed that bill, didn't we? We fixed it. We made it to where it met all sides and all comers, and we did something great.

I wish to spend a very short amount of time talking about priorities. I think this bill is a priority for our country--making a real difference.

How are we going to afford to appropriate this $50 billion? The only way we are going to afford to really do it and do it effectively and not charge the $50 billion to Joe Biden's grandchildren or Tom Coburn's grandchildren or Dick Lugar's grandchildren is if we go about making harder choices about the waste, fraud, and abuse that is in our present system. If you add up what the IGs say, what the GAO says, what the CBO says, and what the CRS says, we have $300 billion every year that is wasted. It is either wasted or defrauded.

So my challenge as we finish this bill, which is going to pass--and it is the right thing to do; you heard me say it; it is the right thing to do--is we only have half our work done, because if we walk away after the commitment of saying we are going to make a difference in Africans' lives and we don't make a difference in our grandchildren's lives by getting rid of the waste that can pay for this so that there is no additional debt, we will have failed. So that is my plea to the Members of this body.

Jim DeMint made a good plea. He showed you what is getting ready to happen to us. He is right. We have precarious financial markets today. We have a credit crisis. We have a housing crisis. We have a debt crisis. We have a trade deficit crisis. Those things are fixable, but we have to fix them with the same kind of zeal, the same kind of community that we did on this bill.

So my challenge to the chairman and the ranking member is, as we appropriate this money--and we know it is going to happen--let's start making the same hard choices we made as we negotiated this bill about the waste and abuse and fraud--$80 billion worth of waste and fraud in Medicare alone. Let's do it. Let's don't just give it lip service; let's leave a legacy for the next generation so they can not only be proud about what we have done as great humanitarians by helping people with a deadly infectious disease, but let's leave the same legacy to our grandchildren by being responsible. That means we are going to have to take some heat because anything we get rid of that is not efficient and not effective, somebody likes, somebody benefits from.

So my plea to the Members of this body as we pass this is let's do the second half of the job. Let's get rid of the waste, fraud, and abuse. There is $70 billion worth of waste and fraud in the Pentagon. There is $30 billion worth of contracting fraud. There is $24 billion worth of IT waste every year out of $64 billion we spend on IT. So we can do it. My challenge to us--and my thanks to the chairman and the ranking member--is let's finish the job when we get down to appropriating. Let's really do our homework. Let's give America not only lower gas prices, let's give them lower costs for their kids and grandkids in the future.

With that, I yield back the remainder of my time.

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