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Mr. YOUNG of Indiana. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
Our Nation's unemployment rate currently sits at 9.2 percent, a full 1.6 percent higher than when President Obama took office. I am hearing from my southern Indiana constituents, and I've heard this for months now, that the President's failed experiment of spending our way to prosperity and creating great uncertainty about future tax rates and interest rates must end.
A step in the right direction would be supporting this modest amendment which my esteemed colleague, the gentleman from Indiana (Mr. Burton), and I have worked on together. The amendment would merely restore eligibility criteria for the Weatherization Assistance Program to pre-stimulus levels.
By way of background, prior to 2008, the Weatherization Assistance Program enabled families at or below the 150 percent poverty level to reduce their energy bills by making their homes more energy efficient. Since the stimulus bill increased this eligibility threshold, the Weatherization fund has exploded and currently has accumulated an estimated $1.5 billion in unspent funds.
Moreover, the program has been a model of government waste and inefficiency. Late last year, for example, New Jersey's State auditor audited just $614,000 worth of Weatherization funds disbursed in his State. He found that $33,000 of this $614,000 that were spent actually went to no services at all. So over 5 percent of the funds spent in that State were spent on nothing.
This sort of waste and inefficiency, no doubt, is being seen all across the country. We have seen recent audits of Weatherization programs in Illinois, Delaware, Tennessee, and Texas yield similar results.
Personally, I agree with those who say that most Americans already have sufficient incentives and means to reduce their energy bills by weatherizing their own homes and that government lacks sufficient incentives to spend our tax dollars responsibly. That is why we should adopt this modest amendment that would merely limit this program to our neediest citizens by restoring eligibility criteria back to pre-stimulus levels.
So I would say let's improve our climate for private sector job creation however we can. Let's eliminate wasteful and nonessential spending wherever we can find it. That is what this amendment does.
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