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Mr. INOUYE. Mr. President, I rise to speak in opposition to the amendment submitted by the Senator from South Dakota, Mr. Thune.
This amendment cloaks itself in the guise of fiscal responsibility, but nothing could be further from the truth. The amendment would rescind funding from the American Recovery Act--the so-called stimulus bill--to pay for the cost of program increases for small businesses. We can all agree that we should do more to support small business, but it is nonsensical to rescind funding from the Recovery Act, which is also creating jobs. I understand all too well that some on the other side of the aisle have argued that the stimulus bill was a mistake, but the facts are proving just the opposite.
Last week, the Congressional Budget Office--the CBO--released a report on the impact of those stimulus funds which have already been spent. The Congressional Budget Office report notes the extremely beneficial impact from this act. The report states that the stimulus funds are responsible for
an increase of somewhere between 1.5 and 3 percent in the gross domestic product during the last quarter of 2009, and with an estimated increase in this first quarter of up to 3.9 percent. Moreover, the CBO states that the stimulus bill accounted for an increase of at least 1 million jobs in the fourth quarter of 2009, and possibly as many as 2.9 million jobs. This is something to ponder.
The one thing the American people all agree upon is that we need to be doing more to create jobs. The American Recovery Act is doing just that. CBO estimates that the level of jobs created through 2010 from stimulus funds could be as high as 3.4 million jobs. That would mean a decline in unemployment of 1.8 percent in this country. No other action by this Congress has provided this kind of positive impact on the job market. So what possible logic is there in rescinding funds from this act which is providing so many benefits to the American people? Why would we support an amendment to cut funding from the act which is clearly helping to reduce devastating job losses?
No one can argue that the stimulus bill isn't working. The proof is at least a million jobs created last quarter. It has had an immensely favorable impact on our economy. I know some of those who oppose the bill don't want to hear it, but that is reality. The numbers from CBO tell the story.
The Thune amendment fails to offer any guidance to which programs it would cut. That is a rather strange amendment. Clearly, it is more politically expedient to simply cite a dollar figure to cut rather than identifying which specific programs the amendment would impact. The Thune amendment offers no direction as to which recovery programs it would shut down. The result could be cuts to the highway funding, new energy technology or reversing efforts to make government buildings and low-income housing more energy efficient.
Moreover, this amendment doesn't even allow the Congress to determine how the funds should be reduced. Instead, it directs the Office of Management and Budget--OMB--to determine where to reduce funding. I cannot believe the authors of this amendment want the Senate to give up the power of the purse to the bureaucrats at OMB to determine where we should spend our taxpayers' funds, but this is what this amendment would do.
For many reasons, this is a bad amendment. It is exactly what the country does not need at this time. We all know that the No. 1 malady facing the country today is unemployment. We now have proof from the Congressional Budget Office that the stimulus bill was the exact right medicine to treat this illness. I urge my colleagues to reject this amendment and allow our stimulus funds to work as planned: making wise investments in America and putting our people back to work.
I yield the floor.
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Mr. INOUYE. Mr. President, we find ourselves debating an amendment that we voted down just last month. Proponents make the rescissions sound like good policy when you listen to them. But Members need to understand this amendment causes harm to our national and international security and to our economy.
First, this amendment proposes rescissions throughout the agencies that are completely random and based on subjective assumptions.
Second, rescinding discretionary funds that have been available for more than 2 years will jeopardize our national defense, our homeland security, and the well-being of our citizens.
This is simply irresponsible governing. For example, a ship is not built in a year or 2 years. A hospital is not built in a year. And if they are not built in a year, these funds are rescinded.
This amendment proposes to cut billions in funding the Congress voted on and agreed to provide just months ago. This amendment is not based on careful review and, if adopted, would have serious consequences on our procurement process and many critical programs for fiscal year 2010.
The majority of the Members acted responsibly in January and rejected the same approach. I urge my colleagues to do the same today.
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