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Public Statements

Credit Cardholders' Bill Of Rights Act Of 2009

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. INHOFE. Mr. President, there are several things toward the end of the week that I was wanting to elaborate a little bit on. They are kind of unrelated subjects, but we do not get this opportunity very often.

The whole idea of Guantanamo Bay is something that I know a lot of people have talked about. I was very proud at the inauguration when our new President, President Obama, gave a lot of statements that were, I thought, logical, and, frankly, a speech that I could very well have made--not as eloquently as he but from a content perspective.

He said, in relationship to the problem of Gitmo, or Guantanamo Bay, that, yes, we want to close that. However, we first must figure out what we are going to do with the detainees, recognizing that there are 245 detainees, recognizing further that there will be more as there is an escalation in activity in Afghanistan and that there is no place else to put these people.

I felt pretty satisfied at that time that this great American resource we have called Guantanamo Bay is something we need to keep. It is one of the few good deals the Government has. We have had it since 1903. It is a resource unlike anything else, not only in our holdings but anyplace in the world. It is a place where we have actually built a courtroom that will handle tribunals, that will handle cases with rules of evidence that would fit tribunals as opposed to our court system. I felt pretty comfortable knowing there is nothing that can be done with the 245 detainees. Many are very dangerous terrorists.

Since that time, he has changed his position. Now he is saying we will close it regardless. He has already closed the courtroom. This facility took 12 months to build. It cost $12 million. There is nothing else quite like it. If we are going to ever adjudicate these individuals, bring them to trial, we have to put them someplace. One of the alternatives would be our court system. Obviously, that is not a good idea. Most thinking people realize it is not a good idea because, the rules of evidence being different from what they are in a normal criminal case, most likely we would not get convictions. What happens when you don't get convictions? You turn people loose. If there is anything we don't want, it is terrorists being turned loose. The politics of that is such that people who want to close Guantanamo Bay are backing away from that issue, but they are still talking about closing it.

I have had occasion to be down there several times. The last time I was there, I used a new technology that I didn't understand too well: YouTube. I did a program down there from Guantanamo. I commented at that time: Here we are with about six levels of security for six levels of detainees. There is no place else like it where we can do something like this.

In terms of how they are treated, I have had them say, with a translator, that it is probably the best food they have ever had in their lives. There is one medical practitioner--in most cases, a doctor--for each two detainees. Where else will you find that? There are procedures that are offered to the detainees that they would never have offered anywhere else. For instance, when they offered a colonoscopy, which was described to the detainees in terms of what it entailed, they decided they didn't want it. Nonetheless, these were things that were offered in the way of health care.

In the case of torture, there has never been a documented case of waterboarding or any severe torture taking place there. I can remember the week after 9/11, when we had immediately a few people in there. I went down and found that our own troops who were stationed down there were not treated as well as the detainees.

Even if that were not true, there is no other place that we can put them. There has been a proposal that there are some 17 detention installations in the United States that would be suitable for these people. One of them happens to be Fort Sill, which happens to be in Oklahoma. I went to Fort Sill and talked to a young lady there who is a sergeant major. This is in Lawton, OK. I talked to her about this. She said: Senator, I have to ask you a question. Why is it that everyone is so concerned about closing Guantanamo Bay? This facility here is not nearly as suitable for detainees.

Then she went on to explain why this separation of people and of classes of security problems. She said: Besides that, I spent 2 years--this is Sergeant Major Carter, stationed at Fort Sill--at Guantanamo Bay. That facility is better than any Federal facility we have.

Why is it we are so bent, just because of some ugly rumors that are not true about treatment of detainees, on closing a resource we have had and we are still paying $4,000 a year for, as we have been ever since 1903? You don't get many bargains like that in government. Anyway, they seem to be concerned about doing that.

I believe public pressure is going to come around on our side and common sense will prevail and we will not close that resource. We will need it in the future. We need it today. We have needed it in the past. It has served us well.

As this moves along, I hope the public knows there are several of us who are going to make sure we do not do anything that is going to allow some of these detainees to be floating around in the continental United States. If we are inclined to do this program where we put them in some 17 installations, we will have 17 magnets for terrorism in the United States. That is not going to happen.

THE FIRST ONE HUNDRED DAYS

I also wish to talk about the striking similarities between what is happening today and what happened back in 1993.

The first 100 days of President Obama's administration will be remembered for its unprecedented level of new Federal spending--no question about that; no Democrat or Republican can deny that--and the return to big government. This, together with his advocacy of far-left, liberal causes--everything from abortion rights, to gun control, to universal health care--will put him on a track to repeat the performance of 1993, when a very attractive, young Bill Clinton entered the Oval Office under the banner of change. After Americans realized that his so-called change was simply an extremely leftwing position, the American people revolted and put Republicans back in charge of Congress. If President Obama continues down this path, I would not be surprised to see that happen again in 2010.

Nothing is more indicative of the stark contrast between conservatives and liberals than the massive Government spending spree now underway in Washington. In his first year in office, Bill Clinton put forward what was then the largest budget to date in our history. It was $1.5 trillion. It included domestic spending of some $123 billion.

Now in this 100th day of President Obama's administration, the Senate is poised to vote on what would become the largest budget to date. This budget, which highlights his priorities, is the most radical and partisan budget we have ever seen. It includes $4.4 trillion in additional deficits and $3.5 trillion in total spending. Let's compare that to 1993. I was down on the floor complaining about a $1.5 trillion budget. This is a $3.5 trillion budget.

When I go back to Oklahoma, sometimes I come to the conclusion that there aren't any normal people in Washington, because they ask the question: Senator, how can we afford all this spending when we had a stimulus bill of $789 billion, increasing debt by $1.8 trillion in the first year, and a $3.5 trillion budget? Where is the money going to come from?

Here I am, the senior Senator from Oklahoma, and I can't answer the question. We do have choices. We can borrow. We can print it. It will have to be a combination of the above. We know all of the very damaging effects: $1 trillion in taxes on individuals and businesses, a $634 billion downpayment for government-run health insurance. There is another similarity. Remember, in 1993 it was called Hillary health care. The concept was the Government can run a health care system better than people can. I always invite people who believe that to go spend some time in some of the hospitals up north; the Mayo Clinic and some others come to mind. See the number of people who are there who came over from Canada because they couldn't get treatment. Maybe their age was right above the federal guideline for a particular type of procedure, and they could no longer do it. Again, the similarities are so similar, 1993 and what is happening today. Then, of course, we had the Wall Street bailout and all of that.

I am very concerned about the direction this administration has proposed to take us. Anyone who works hard, plays by the rules, pays taxes, drives a car, turns on the lights, saves, invests, donates to charity, or plans to be successful should also be concerned.

Defense cuts--I probably am more concerned about this than most Members. I am the second ranking member of the Armed Services Committee. I have watched what is going on. To me, it is deplorable.

I happened to be in Afghanistan when Secretary Gates came out with Obama's defense cuts. They tried to claim they are not defense cuts. They are. It is just that they are talking about the DOD appropriations bill versus all the other funding sources that have been used before.

The best evidence that they are cuts is what has happened to our platforms. Right now, the F-22 is the only platform we have that is fifth-generation maturity. This is something he is stopping right now. We were originally supposed to have 750 F-22s. Now we will stop at 187. At the same time, you have China with its J-12, Russia with its SU series, a fifth-generation airplane. That is going to put us in a position where it will hurt and hurt bad.

The same thing is true with the Future Combat Systems. We have been working on that for 8 years now since Shinseki helped to start it. It is the first transition in ground capability in at least 50 years. This is something we have been working on so that we don't send our kids into battle against countries that might have a better artillery piece and better equipment than we. He axed that program.

How long has it been since we started working with the Parliament of Poland and the Czech Republic to get them to let us put a radar system in the Czech Republic and interceptor capability in Poland so that when Iran gets the capability of sending a nuclear missile over to western Europe or the eastern United States, we would have the ability to shoot it down? It didn't happen. The Parliaments that had to be politically pretty strong to agree to do that. Now they are sitting back and finding out that they are talking about axing that program too.

The airborne laser is the closest thing we have to knocking down a missile in the boost phase. We were coming along with that program. They axed that program too.

I am very concerned about what happens and what has happened in this budget to our capability of defending ourselves. Then I go back to 1993. That is exactly what happened back then. If we look at the 8 years of the Clinton administration, we cut military spending from what would be just a straight line by $412 billion in that period. Of course, we ended up cutting our military by about 40 percent over that period.

The bottom line is, all these programs were cut. I happened to be in Afghanistan when that happened. We did a report from over there. We could see the Bradleys driving by and the helicopters taking off, the bad weather, soldiers coming back from patrols and turning on the tube and finding out President Obama is going to gut the military. It is totally unacceptable. But that is the same thing that happened in 1993. It is déja 2 vu all over again.

Gun control is the same. We see now that they are going to try to get us to sign on to a treaty that is called CIFTA, a treaty in the Western Hemisphere where we will all get together and we will allow Central America and Mexico and South America and Canada to determine what gun manufacturers can do. It is the first major step to gun control, in violation of second amendment rights. People care about that. It is exactly what happened with Bill Clinton in 1993.

Energy taxes--back when Bill Clinton was doing it, it was called the Btu tax. That stands for British thermal unit. It was a massive tax increase on energy and very similar to what they are trying to do right now--which, incidentally, I have no doubt we will stop them from being able to do--the cap-and-trade tax. One thing about the cap-and-trade tax, that is something that is not just a one-shot deal like the stimulus bill. That is every year. It would be somewhere around $350 billion a year in taxes on the American people, a regressive tax because it is a tax on energy. People with lower incomes spend a larger percentage of their expendable income on that kind of energy than rich people do.

We are not going to let that happen. I tell all my friends, we have been fighting that battle now for 8 years, and it is over. We are not going to let that happen in America. But that is what Bill Clinton tried to do in 1993. It is the same thing all over again.

We went through the same thing on abortion. I think personally there is no mission more important than standing up for the sanctity of human life. Here again, President Obama, like President Clinton, quickly moved to appease pro-abortion advocates.

Just a few days ago, the Senate confirmed Kathleen Sebelius for Secretary of Health and Human Services. As Governor of Kansas since 2002, she has a clear record of supporting abortion and policies that I believe impact the health and safety of women and parental rights. Again, it is abortion. Either you are for it or against it. But this is one of the strong pro-abortion positions in 1993 that now we are getting again out of this administration.

So when you look at this, I cannot help but think that all the signs are there, that we are seeing the same thing now that we saw back in 1993. I believe we are going to be positioned to keep a lot of these things from happening, No. 1, and No. 2, let's remember what happened in 1993. Young, attractive Bill Clinton went in as President of the United States, and he had the House and he had the Senate, and he had it all just as President Obama has it all. He has the House and the Senate. Therefore, it is not someone else's fault for all these programs. Consequently, we had a major turnover in the 1994 election. Republicans took over the House and the Senate. So I just warn my liberal friends from the other side of the aisle, be real careful. Watch what you are doing because it could very well happen again.

EPA'S ENDANGERMENT FINDING

Mr. President, I do have something that is a little heavier lifting subject. I am the ranking member of the Environment and Public Works Committee. When the Republicans were in the majority, I was chairman of it.

Something is happening right now, and something happened Tuesday morning. I want to make sure everybody understands, as this week is coming to an end, that on April 17, the administration set in motion a ticking timebomb with its release of a proposed endangerment finding for carbon dioxide and five other greenhouse gases. This proposal finds--this, incidentally, is what all the scientists do not agree with--this proposal finds that carbon dioxide is a dangerous pollutant that threatens the public health and welfare and therefore must be regulated under the Clean Air Act.

This is interesting because they first tried to pass cap and trade. They know there are not the votes for it. There are in the House. Speaker Pelosi pretty much gets anything she wants through. It is a simple majority vote over there. Over here, it would take 60 votes to pass that massive tax increase, and we are not going to do it because they do not have more than 34, maybe 35 votes, and it takes 60 votes. But, nonetheless, since they cannot do it, they decided to do it under the Clean Air Act and do it through regulation so it could be done from the White House. This so-called endangerment finding sets the clock ticking on a vast array of regulations and taxes, with little or no political debate or congressional control.

On May 12, we learned of a White House document. This is significant. We did not know it was there. I want to credit our committee, the Environment and Public Works Committee--the minority side--for finding this document. It is a White House document marked ``privileged and confidential.'' It was buried deep within the docket of the proposed rule. It outlines some of the very same concerns shared by me and many of my colleagues, including Senator Barrasso. I could not be here for that Tuesday morning meeting, and he was good enough to take this memo and expose it and did an excellent job of it.

Keep in mind, we are talking about their proposal for new taxes, new regulations--all these things they want to go through with because they cannot legislatively pass a cap-and-trade--or cap-and-tax, as some call it--proposal.

The document we found--allegedly a compilation of concerns from unnamed officials within the White House, or the administration, as part of an interagency review of the proposed regulation--raises some questions, very serious criticisms of the endangerment proposal. Chief among them are questions raised about the link between the EPA's scientific argument for endangerment and its political summary.

I am going to quote from it. I have three quotes. Keep in mind, this came from the administration. This report says:

The finding rests heavily on the precautionary principle, but the amount of acknowledged lack of understanding about basic facts surrounding greenhouse gases seems to stretch the precautionary principle to providing for regulation in the face of unprecedented uncertainty.

In other words, what they are saying there is that the science is not there; we do not know yet; we know there are a lot of problems with this, and we should not be rushing into it. This came from the White House. I am glad we found it.

Here is a further quote. Additionally, it says:

There is a concern that EPA is making a finding based on ``harm'' from substances that have no demonstrated direct health effects, such as respiratory or toxic effects, and that available scientific data that purports to conclusively establish the nature and the extent of the adverse public health and welfare effects are almost exclusively from non-EPA sources.

Again, this is not me talking, this is a quote from the White House in a buried document we fortunately--but surprisingly--did find.

You can ask: What source is the EPA relying on if it is going to go through all this? That source is the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. This is where it all started. It was the United Nations that started this whole issue of greenhouse gases, of CO2, anthropogenic gases, and methane causing global warming. When you look at their ``Fourth Assessment Report'', which, as I have documented before many times in speeches on this Senate floor, is a political and not a science-based body, it has no accountability here in the United States.

You keep hearing people say: What about the NAS, the National Academy of Sciences? What about them? They are scientists.

The reports they give are not from the NAS, they are from the political review or the summary for policymakers, which is a political document, not another document.

In addition, this White House memo also warns of a cascade of unintended regulatory consequences if the endangerment finding is finalized. It states--and again, I am quoting from this report:

Making the decision to regulate CO2 under the Clean Air Act--

That is what they want to do, regulate CO2 under the Clean Air Act--

for the first time is likely to have serious economic consequences for regulated entities throughout the U.S. economy, including small business and small communities.

This report talks about the small businesses, the small communities, churches, other groups that are going to be adversely affected by this. Again, this is a document that came out of the White House.

Now, for one thing, I am glad to know we are not alone with our concerns and that several in the Obama administration share views similar to ours on the endangerment finding. I am hopeful more will come forward.

So what was the administration's official response to the release of this memo? Well, it depended on whom you asked. One source in the Obama administration chose to again blame it on the Bush administration, stating it was written by a holdover appointed by George W. Bush. However, earlier in the day, Peter Orszag, who heads the White House budget office, where the memo apparently came from, stated that the quotations circulating in the press are from a document in which the OMB simply ``collated and collected disparate comments from various agencies during the interagency review process of the proposed finding. These collected comments were not necessarily internally consistent, since they came from multiple sources, and they do not necessarily represent the views of either OMB or the Administration.'' Well, it is fine to say this, but that is where it came from. It came from the administration. It is very fortunate we found it.

It begs the question: Does this document reflect one rogue leftover Bush appointee, who, based on followup news reports, actually appears to be a Democrat or does it reflect a more systematic summary of comments from various agencies that have serious concerns with the proposed finding, as Orszag suggested? I am hoping someone from the administration will come forth with a consistent response.

In either case, I welcome the comments as an open and honest discussion of the potential costs, benefits, and legal justifications for such a finding.

Regardless of the Supreme Court decision, the EPA has the discretion to carefully weight the science and the causes and effects in its determination of endangerment, and, despite recent claims by administration officials, it is under no court order to find in the affirmative that such greenhouse gases endanger public health or welfare or cause or contribute to air pollution.

If we are going to have a debate on this issue, let's have it here in Congress, where the American people deserve an open and honest discussion about the costs and alleged benefits, about the effectiveness of such policies and what it will mean to the consumers who ultimately pay the bill. As I said before, it is going to be the poorer Americans who pay the larger percentage of their incomes who are going to be punished.

By the way, we had the debate here. In the House, they have never had the debate because it has never come up as an issue. Here we had the debate during the ratification debate on the Kyoto treaty. And we had the McCain-Lieberman bill, the Warner-Lieberman bill, the Boxer--there is another bill that came up just in the last year. So we have had the debate, a full and open debate, and we are going to have to debate this issue because there is an effort to try to do through regulation what they cannot do through open debate in the process on the floor.

The administration, and this EPA in particular, has claimed they will usher in a new era of transparency. In April, Administrator Jackson issued a sweeping memo to all EPA employees committing the agency to an unprecedented level of transparency. I applaud her for it. She told me this in my office. We also found that she made this statement in a private memo to Members. So she is being very honest in what her effort is. I have a feeling a lot of this stuff is happening, and she is not even aware of it.

She says--and this is a quote; this is beautiful:

The success of our environmental efforts depends on earning and maintaining the trust of the public we serve. The American people will not trust us to protect their health or their environment if they do not trust us to be transparent and inclusive in our decision-making. To earn this trust, we must conduct business with the public openly and fairly.

Again, this is Lisa Jackson, the new Administrator of the EPA. I applaud her for saying this.

This requires not only that EPA remain open and accessible to those representing all points of view, but also that EPA offices responsible for decisions take affirmative steps to solicit the views of those who will be affected by these decisions.

She went on to say at her confirmation hearing--not only did she reaffirm this statement, but she said she would be responsive to us on the minority side, the same as she would be to the majority, and I believe that.

Certainly, the allegations in this White House memo make one question whether the EPA is open and accessible to all points of view. For one thing, it was marked ``privileged and confidential,'' which tells me that perhaps they knew about it, but then they did not want to use it and they did not want people to find out about it. Nonetheless, the document speaks for itself.

My colleagues may criticize the Bush administration for how it handled the endangerment finding, but at least they did not try to bury or hide these types of comments when it proposed its advance notice of proposed rulemaking last summer. I know a lot of this sounds a little confusing. This is a process you go through, an advance notice of proposed rulemaking. In fact, the previous administration; that is, the Bush administration, went so far as to lay all of these comments out in public view so all sides could be represented. If this latest action is any indication of how the EPA has begun to operate, then the American public should have serious reason to be concerned.

On this CO2 endangerment issue--potentially the largest and most sweeping regulatory effort ever to be proposed--transparency should be a cornerstone of every agency action. Opinions from all sides, pro and con--and certainly from all other agencies--should be weighed equally and fairly and, just as important, openly, in full view of the American people. The American people deserve to know all sides, all costs, and all benefits. This thing is so costly, and with the questionable benefits, this is that much more important.

Because of these issues, I am hopeful the Administrator will commit to a determination on endangerment that would be based on the record of the scientific data and empirical evidence rather than political or other nonscientific considerations. It is of the utmost importance that regulatory matters of this scope and magnitude be based on the most objective, balanced scientific and empirical data.

While I am still hopeful that ultimately Congress or the agency will decide to take this option off the table, a full on-the-record examination during any endangerment rulemaking should be a minimum requirement of transparency.

But the administration has essentially politicized the issue by presenting policymakers with a false choice. The choice is to use an outdated, ill-equipped, and economically disastrous option under the Clean Air Act or pick another bad option--cap and trade--that commits us to requirements for unaffordable technology and would certainly be the largest consistent annual tax increase in the history of America.

This isn't going to happen.

I would repeat we are fortunate in that we have had this debate, and each time we have the debate, there are more and more people who come down and say: Well, I didn't know it was going to cost that much money. Back in the original Kyoto days, it appeared that a majority of the people, in fact, in the Senate would support that type of an approach.

By the way, I have to say this: The Kyoto treaty was one thing. That is a treaty that affects the whole world, a lot of developed nations and some undeveloped nations. It was something you signed onto and everyone signs onto and everyone agrees to. Since that didn't happen--and even if you are one of those individuals who believes that anthropogenic gases, CO2, and methane are causing global warming--if you believe it, which isn't true, but if you did believe it--then does it make sense for us to pass something unilaterally in the Senate, making us less competitive than the rest of the world? What is going to happen to our manufacturing base? What is left of it is going to end up in places such as China, India, and Mexico, where they don't have these emission requirements. What is going to happen then? There will be a net increase in CO

2. Back to the memo, and I will conclude with this. I have to repeat what the memo says. This was a memo that was advice to the process from the White House.

The finding rests heavily on the precautionary principle, but the amount of acknowledged lack of understanding about basic facts surrounding greenhouse gases would seem to stretch the precautionary principle to providing for regulation in the face of unprecedented uncertainty.

In other words, it is uncertain.

Further, it states:

There is a concern that EPA is making a finding based on harm from substances that have no demonstrated direct health effects such as respiratory or toxic effects, and that available scientific data that purports to conclusively establish the nature and extent of the adverse public health and welfare effects are almost exclusively from non-EPA sources.

That is an admission.

Finally:

Making the decision--

Which I hope we will not make the decision to do, but we will oppose that decision-- to regulate CO2 under the Clean Air Act for the first time is likely to have serious economic consequences for regulated entities throughout the United States economy, including small businesses and small communities.

In other words, nobody wins. Nobody wins.

So with that, I would say there is this effort that what they cannot do
legislatively they want to do through regulations, and we are not going to allow that to happen.

With that, I yield the floor.

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT


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