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Public Statements

American Recovery And Reinvestment Act Of 2009

Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

American Recovery And Reinvestment Act Of 2009

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Mr. COBURN. Mr. President, the question we need to ask ourselves is, What is the real problem we have in the economy? And what is the best way of fixing it? Not whether somebody looks good or looks bad. How do we do what is in the best long-term interest of the country?

The problem with this bill, once you really see it--and even a $100 billion smaller bill--is, it does not address the real problem. We are going to be treating symptoms, and we are going to be highly inefficient as we do that. We say we want to have a stimulus bill. Yet what we are going to do is stimulate a baseline increase in the budget every year from now on of at least $124 billion, probably closer to $300 billion, because we have not done what we say we are doing with this bill.

The other thing is, the fear that is driving this bill and what might happen if we do not hurry up and get a bill is probably the worst motivation we could have. The real fear we ought to have is, have we done it right and have we not created a situation in which generations that follow us, especially the next two, will say: What were they thinking? Why didn't they do it right? Why didn't they target the money truly to stimulus instead of creating this worst of all habits--which we are now going to ensure that the States pick up and learn from us. It is a virus. It is a virus we have that says: You do not have to worry about what it costs in the long run. You do not have to target it. You do not have to be efficient. You do not have to look at programs and make sure they are working. You do not have to have metrics.

Now that the States are in trouble, we are going to absorb a portion of the problems the States have because they have not been fiscally prudent, and we are going to say: We are going to bail you out. Well, think about what that says to State legislators all across the country.

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Mr. COBURN. Mr. President, this is a simple amendment that says we ought to have a priority of what we do. It is not about being against swimming pools, zoos, museums, or anything else. It is about saying to the American people we are going to prioritize the spending on this legislation.

What this amendment does is prohibit money to go to low-priority, low-infrastructure things. We have 233,000 bridges in this country that are in trouble--233,000. Instead of spending money planting trees along a causeway, what we ought to be doing is fixing the bridge that is on that causeway.

So this amendment is designed to prohibit money going into these areas so we will have money next year and the year after that, or maybe redirect money within the bill to actually do something we are going to have to spend money on anyhow, rather than do something that is optional and low priority.

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