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Public Statements

Currency Exchange Rate Oversight Reform Act of 2011

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

BREAK TRANSCRIPT

Mr. President, recently both the majority leader and the minority leader came down to the floor to talk about the President's jobs bill. There was an effort to bring up this bill by the minority leader, and it was objected to by the majority leader. And I understand that, but all we have heard from the President from the very first time he introduced this was ``pass the bill, pass the bill, pass the bill.'' I know there is some reason he keeps using that phrase over and over. It has probably been tested and is one that I think he believes will move a lot of people. Frankly, I don't think it will because too many people remember what happened the last time he had a stimulus bill. That is something which has not been really discussed on the floor in consideration of what he refers to as the jobs bill. So I can see why he keeps talking about passing the bill, because he doesn't really want to talk about it.

His new proposal reminds me so much of that $825 billion stimulus package he rammed through Congress shortly after entering office. It is almost the same thing. The Recovery Act is the $825 billion act. It included only $27.5 billion in highway spending, which was the stimulus portion of that bill. We are talking about 3 percent of the $825 billion.

I am particularly sensitive to this since I have in the past been the chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, and I am now the ranking member. We have a Transportation reauthorization bill we are trying to get up and get up on a bipartisan basis.

Back during the consideration of the Recovery Act, the $825 billion, I tried to pass an amendment on this floor to increase that to about 30 percent instead of 3 percent of the bill. If that had happened, we would not be in the situation we are today. We would have a lot of jobs out there that would be under construction and good things would be happening.

In the case of this $447 billion bill, which is kind of the Recovery Act lite, there is only $27 billion in highway spending, and it is not conceivable that he didn't learn his lesson from the first go-around that that is the main reason people are upset with it right now. That is the reason he keeps saying: Pass the bill, pass the bill.

The proposal includes a few different things, but much of it will be sent to the President to spend however he wants. Now, you may be wondering, will Congress tell the President where to spend the money? To a very limited extent, that is right. When Congress does not tell the President exactly what he is to do with each dime he gets, the President gets to decide what to fund.

This administration has a history of making incredibly poor spending decisions with the money appropriated to it. The biggest example I can think of is the $825 billion stimulus package. When the President signed this bill in February of 2009, he said--and I want you to hold this thought--he said:

What I'm signing, then, is a balanced plan with a mix of tax cuts and investments. It's a plan that's been put together without earmarks or the usual pork barrel spending. It's a plan that will be implemented with an unprecedented level of transparency and accountability.

That is what he said. That is a direct quote. For those of you who are watching, I have news for you: Despite the President's remarks, the spending was not balanced, and it had a tremendous amount of porkbarrel earmark spending even though there were no congressional earmarks. This is a distinction not many people make. I tried to get this point across back when the Republicans very foolishly talked about having a moratorium on earmarks. I said: Those are congressional earmarks. That is not where the problem is. The problem is in bureaucratic earmarks.

The clearest and most recent example of a huge earmark is the loan guarantee that was given to Solyndra. We have been reading about this and hearing about it recently. It is now a bankrupt solar panel manufacturing company. We have heard about that. Solyndra was a politically connected firm from California that was able to lobby the White House to obtain a loan guarantee of $535 million to fund its green jobs pipedream. This happened despite the fact that some in the administration were warning the White House to give them more time to evaluate the company's finances. It seems they were concerned about the company's long-term viability. But these warnings were ignored by the White House. They wanted to fund the project anyway. Why? I think it was for two reasons: First, the White House has a fascination with green energy; second, political gamesmanship. Some of Solyndra's biggest investors are big fundraisers and have been big fundraisers for President Obama. We now know they made repeated visits to the White House. That is not just a coincidence.

Another question is this: How did the White House have the authority to give the loan guarantee to Solyndra in the first place? The short answer is Obama's stimulus package. That was the $825 billion stimulus package. It significantly expanded the Department of Energy's Loan Guarantee Program, and with this expansion the White
House was able to select Solyndra for a loan guarantee.

While the stimulus package did not include any porkbarrel spending in the way that most people think about it--congressional earmarks--this provides clarity to the fact that when Congress does not explicitly state where taxpayer funds should go, the money is handed over to the administration to spend however they want. They get to earmark every last dime.

In the case of Solyndra, the President handed it over to his political buddies who were in favor of the green energy projects. If that isn't a porkbarrel project, I don't know what is. Now the damage has been done, and the taxpayers are going to be on the hook for as much as $535 million in losses.

Sadly, Solyndra is just one of many [Page: S6170]examples of porkbarrel spending in the stimulus bill. We are talking about the first stimulus bill, the $825 billion bill. Not too long ago, Sean Hannity had on his program--I think it took him two programs to get it through--the 102 most egregious earmarks that are recorded. It is really kind of interesting. In fact, I have the whole list here, and I am going to ask that it be made a part of the Record at the conclusion of my remarks.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

(See exhibit 1.)

Mr. INHOFE. I would love to be able to name all of these. These are just ridiculous. There is $219,000 to study the hookup behavior of female college co-eds in New York; $1.1 million to pay for the beautification of Los Angeles, Sunset Boulevard; $10,000 to study whether mice become disoriented when they consume alcohol in Florida. It goes on and on. Again, there are 102 of these. These are the most egregious.

What is interesting is that the day after Sean Hannity exposed these earmarks--102 of them--I came to the floor and I read all 102 of them. I said: What do these 102 earmarks have in common? The answer: Not one is a congressional earmark. They are all bureaucratic earmarks. They all came from the $825 billion.

Remember I said a minute ago that he said there will be no earmarks in this package? It is the same thing he is saying about this second go-around for the jobs bill he is talking about today. The administration took $825 billion that Congress gave it and chose to spend it on stupid things such as the ones I just listed, but there are 102 of them. I hope he will take the time, since it will be in the Record, to read all 102 of them.

What does this have to do with the jobs bill? To me, the jobs bill is simply the President coming back to Congress to ask for more money to spend however he wants on porkbarrel projects such as these. No one has talked about this on the floor. They have talked about the problems they have with this spending bill and why it is really not a jobs bill, but no one is talking about the fact that this is exactly what he did before. I don't know why we are not

talking about this and featuring this because if he said before that there were going to be no earmarks and then he had 102 egregious earmarks, why would he not do the same thing now? The answer is, he would do it. He would like to hand this out to his cronies in ways that would best benefit him.

You may remember the President's State of the Union Address from earlier this year. In it, he promised, and I quote, ``If a bill comes to my desk with earmarks inside, I will veto it.'' Well, you have a promise from the President that unless Congress gives him all of the authority to determine how money is spent through the bureaucratic earmark process, he will veto the bill. In other words, he will veto a bill unless he has total authority on how to spend it, and he can spend it on his own earmarks in spite of the fact that he said there will be no earmarks. So for any jobs bill to be considered, Congress is going to have to let the President decide how all the money is being spent. It is a hard concept to get ahold of.

``Earmarks'' has become a dirty word, and people assume that when you say ``earmarks,'' you are talking about congressional earmarks. That is not the problem. I have legislation I am going to be talking about that will correct this and better inform the public as to what is really going on. So we are finding ourselves in the same situation again.

What is worse is the fact that the problem of bureaucratic earmarks is not limited to special stimulus packages. It is a normal course of business. On any given day, the administration is making thousands of decisions on how to spend money it has appropriated. Congress first passes laws authorizing the executive branch to do certain things, and then we appropriate the money and go and do it. But unless Congress gives specific instructions as to where to spend the money--a process many people decry as congressional earmarks--the administration gets to decide where to spend the money. In other words, the bureaucracy does the earmark or President Obama does it.

I serve on the Armed Services Committee. We are staffed with experts in defending America. We have experts in missile defense, experts in lift capability, all of that. The way it has always happened before is the President--whether it was President Bush or Clinton or any other President--designs a budget, and that budget, the parameters, goes to Congress. Then we in the authorization committees decide if we agree with the President and how he wants to defend America.

A good example of that is that right before the prohibition on earmarks came in, the President sent his budget down--I think that was his first budget--and in that budget was $330 million for a launching system. It was called a Bucket of Rockets. It was a good system. It was something I would like to have for defending America. But when we analyzed it, we looked and we thought, with what is happening right now, our greatest need is to expand our F-18 program and buy six new F-18s. So we took the $330 million he would have spent on the rocket-launching system and spent it on six new F-18s, and it was a wise thing to do. You can't do that now because the President has to make all of the decisions because that would be called a congressional earmark.

Earmarks don't increase spending at all. All they do is say: All right, Mr. President, you go ahead and spend it the way you want to. A recent example of this comes from the Bureau of Land Management within the Department of the Interior.

While I could talk for hours about whether the management of Federal lands is appropriate for government to do, that is not what I want to bring your attention to. That is another discussion for another time. What I am concerned about is how carefully the Bureau of Land Management works to keep its actions aligned with the authorization and power it has been given by Congress. We write laws for a reason. We say the bureaucracy can do certain things and not do certain things. When we do that, we are limiting the bureaucracy and the bureaucracy's authority. We are not saying they can interpret the law in any way they choose, but generally that doesn't stop them from trying.

One thing the Bureau of Land Management is authorized to do by a statute is to enter into contracts and cooperative agreements to manage, protect, develop, and sell public lands. In managing public lands, title 43 authorizes the BLM to, among others things, preserve the land's historic value.

A few days ago, as I was searching through the government's grants database--by the way, this database is something we put in when Republicans were a majority in our committee. The Environment and Public Works Committee has a database which will show people, if they care to wander through, just what the bureaucracy is spending money on.

I was looking through the grants database, and I came across one that shocked me. On September 9 of this year, just a few days ago, the BLM announced its intent to award a grant of $214,000 to the Public Land Foundation to fund a research project to describe in detail why the Homestead Act of 1862 had a significant impact on the history of America. When I asked them to justify that, they started talking about how important history is.

Today, my question is this: What part of this grant has anything to do with today's actual public lands? This is not a grant to dust off the historic landmarks at national parks. This is a research project to study history, which may be a noble task, but nonetheless that is what it is for.

What the American people need to understand is that this sort of thing happens all the time. The bureaucracy is completely numb to the fact that we have a $1.5 trillion deficit just in this year alone, and while this should inform the way it spends money and help to prioritize accordingly, it doesn't. The bureaucracy takes the money given to it by Congress and spends it on porkbarrel projects that are important to the President. Right now, there is no way around this. There is no accountability or transparency built into it in any way. The bureaucracy earmarks its funds.

I believe this needs to be changed, and I am currently drafting legislation that will change the way the bureaucracy makes funding decisions. My legislation will bring true transparency and accountability to the process, and it will require the administration to state explicitly which laws authorize its grant awards. It will also provide a way for Congress to weigh in and challenge the administration's thinking. This is not just for the current administration; it is for any administration.

With trillions of dollars in deficits, we cannot afford to give the President another $447 billion to spend on whatever he wants because that is what it would be. We need to reduce spending, but we also need to ensure that the spending we are doing is justified by the laws Congress passes. Because of this, we need to bring more light and accountability to the bureaucratic earmarking process.

Further, I warn my colleagues to not be fooled into the idea that whenever we pass money off to the administration, it is in safe hands. The opposite is true, and I urge my colleagues to oppose more blank check stimulus spending because of it.

Again, after President Obama stated on February 17, 2009, there will be no earmarks in his $825 billion stimulus bill, it contained more than 100 very egregious, offensive earmarks. I could--again, I am not going to read off the list, but it will be a part of the Record following these remarks I am making now.

He will do it again. If we pass another $450 billion stimulus bill, we can be sure it will be full of earmarks as bad as the ones he put in the initial stimulus bill.

This is our second blank check for the President. He fooled us once. Do not let it happen again.

With that, I yield the floor.

Exhibit 1

Bureaucratic Earmarks in the Stimulus Bill

102. Protecting a Michigan insect collection from other insects ($187,632)

101. Highway beautified by fish art in Washington ($10,000)

100. University studying hookup behavior of female college coeds in New York ($219,000)

99. Police department getting 92 blackberries for supervisors in Rhode Island ($95,000)

98. Upgrades to seldom-used river cruise boat in Oklahoma ($1.8 million)

97. Precast concrete toilet buildings for Mark Twain National Forest in Montana ($462,000)

96. University studying whether mice become disoriented when they consume alcohol in Florida ($8,408)

95. Foreign bus wheel polishers for California ($259,000)

94. Recovering crab pots lost at sea in Oregon ($700,000)

93. Developing a program to develop ``machine-generated humor'' in Illinois ($712,883)

92. Colorado museum where stimulus was signed (and already has $90 million in the bank) gets geothermal stimulus grant ($2.6 million)

91. Grant to the Maine Indian Basketmakers Alliance to support the traditional arts apprenticeship program, gathering and festival ($30,000)

90. Studying methamphetamines and the female rat sex drive in Maryland ($30,000)

89. Studying mating decisions of cactus bugs in Florida ($325,394)

88. Studying why deleting a gene can create sex reversal in people, but not in mice in Minnesota ($190,000)

87. College hires director for project on genetic control of sensory hair cell membrane channels in zebra fish in California ($327,337)

86. New jumbo recycling bins with microchips embedded inside to track participation in Ohio ($500,000)

85. Oregon Federal Building's ``green'' renovation at nearly the price of a brand new building ($133 million)

84. Massachusetts middle school getting money to build a solar array on its roof ($150,000)

83. Road widening that could have been millions of dollars cheaper if Louisiana hadn't opted to replace a bridge that may not have needed replacing ($60 million)

82. Cleanup effort of a Washington nuclear waste site that already got $12 billion from the Department of Energy ($1.9 billion)

81. Six woodlands water taxis getting a new home in Texas ($750,000)

80. Maryland group gets money to develop ``real life'' stories that underscore job and infrastructure-related research findings ($363,760)

79. Studying social networks, such as Facebook, in North Carolina ($498,000)

78. Eighteen (18) North Carolina teacher coaches to heighten math and reading performance ($4.4 million)

77. Retrofitting light switches with motion sensors for one company in Arizona ($800,000)

76. Removing graffiti along 100 miles of flood-control ditches in California ($837,000)

75. Bicycle lanes, shared lane signs and bike racks in Pennsylvania ($105,000)

74. Privately-owned steakhouse rehabilitating its restaurant space in Missouri ($75,000)

73. National dinner cruise boat company in Illinois outfitting vessels with surveillance systems to protect against terrorists ($1 million)

72. Producing and transporting peanuts and peanut butter in North Carolina ($900,000)

71. Refurnishing and delivering picnic tables in Iowa ($30,000)

70. Digital television converter box coupon program in D.C. ($650,000)

69. Elevating and relocating 3,000' of track for the Napa Valley Wine Train in California ($54 million)

68. Hosting events for Earth Day, the summer solstice, in Minnesota ($50,000)

67. Expanding ocean aquaculture in Hawaii ($99,960)

66. Raising railroad tracks 18 inches in Oregon because the residents of one small town were tired of taking a detour around them ($4.2 million)

65. Professors and employees of Iowa state universities voluntarily taking retirement ($43 million)

64. Minnesota theatre named after Che Guevara putting on ``socially conscious'' puppet shows ($25,000)

63. Replacing a basketball court lighting system with a more energy efficient one in Arizona ($20,000)

62. Repainting and adding a security camera to one bridge in Oregon ($3.5 million)

61. Missouri bridge project that already was full-funded with state money ($8 million)

60. New hospital parking garage in New York that will employ less people ($19.5 million)

59. University in North Carolina studying why adults with ADHD smoke more ($400,000)

58. Low-income housing residents in one Minnesota city receiving free laptops, WiFi and iPod Touches to ``educate'' them in technology ($5 million)

57. University in California sending students to Africa to study why Africans vote the way they do in their elections ($200,000)

56. Researching the impact of air pollution combined with a high-fat diet on obesity development in Ohio ($225,000)

55. Studying how make and female birds care for their offspring and how it compares to how humans care for their children in Oklahoma ($90,000)

54. University in Pennsylvania researching fossils in Argentina (over $1 million)

53. University in Tennessee studying how black holes form (over $1 million)

52. University in Oklahoma sending 3 researchers to Alaska to study grandparents and how they pass on knowledge to younger generations ($1.5 million)

51. Grant application from a Pennsylvania university for a researcher named in the Climate-gate scandal (Rep. Darrell Issa is calling on the president to freeze the grant) ($500,000)

50. Studying the impact of global warming on wild flowers in a Colorado ghost town ($500,000)

49. Bridge build over railroad crossing so 168 Nebraska town residents don't have to wait for the trains to pass ($7 million)

48. Renovating an old hotel into a visitors center in Kentucky ($300,000)

47. Removing overgrown weeds in a Rhode Island park ($250,000)

46. Renovating 5 seldom-used ports of entry on the U.S.-Canada border in Montana ($77 million)

45. Testing how to control private home appliances in Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts from an off-site computer ($800,000)

44. Repainting a rarely-used bridge in North Carolina ($3.1 million)

43. Renovating a desolate Wisconsin bridge that averages 10 cars a day ($426,000)

42. Four new buses for New Hampshire ($2 million)

41. Re-paving a 1-mile stretch of Atlanta road that had parts of it already re-paved in 2007 ($490,000)

40. Florida beauty school tuition ($2.3 million)

39. Extending a bike path to the Minnesota Twins stadium ($500,000)

38. Beautification of Los Angeles' Sunset Boulevard ($1.1 million)

37. Colorado Dragon Boat Festival ($10,000)

36. Developing the next generation of supersonic corporate jets in Maryland that could cost $80 million each ($4.7 million)

35. New spring training facilities for the Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies ($30 million)

34. Demolishing 35 old laboratories in New Mexico ($212 million)

33. Putting free WiFi, Internet kiosks and interactive history lessons in 2 Texas rest stops ($13.8 million)

32. Replacing a single boat motor in a government boat in D.C. ($10,500)

31. Developing the next generation of football gloves in Pennsylvania ($150,000)

[Page: S6172]

30. Pedestrian bridge to nowhere in West Virginia ($80,000)

29. Replacing all signage on 5 miles of road in Rhode Island ($4,403,205)

28. Installing a geothermal energy system to heat the ``incredible shrinking mall'' in Tennessee ($5 million)

27. University in Minnesota studying how to get the homeless to stop smoking ($230,000)

26. Large woody habitat rehabilitation project in Wisconsin ($16,800)

25. Replacing escalators in the parking garage of one D.C. Metro station ($4.3 million)

24. Building an airstrip in a community most Alaskans have never even heard of ($14,707,949)

23. Bike and pedestrian paths connecting Camden, N.J. to Philadelphia,

Pennsylvania, when there's already a bridge that connects them ($23 million)

22. Sending 10 university undergrads each year from North Carolina to Costa Rica to study rain forests ($564,000)

21. Road signs touting stimulus funds at work in Ohio ($1 million)

20. Researching how paying attention improves performance of difficult tasks in Connecticut ($850,000)

19. Kentucky Transportation Department awarding contracts to companies associated with a road contractor accused of bribing the previous state transportation secretary ($24 million)

18. Amtrak losing $32 per passenger nationally, but rewarded with windfall ($1.3 billion)

17. Widening an Arizona interstate even though the company that won the contract has a history of tax fraud and pollution ($21.8 million)

16. Replace existing dumbwaiters in New York ($351,807)

15. Deer underpass in Wyoming ($1,239,693)

14. Arizona universities examining the division of labor in ant colonies (combined $950,000)

13. Fire station without firefighters in Nevada ($2 million)

12. ``Clown'' theatrical production in Pennsylvania ($25,000)

11. Maryland town gets money but doesn't know what to do with it ($25,000)

10. Investing in nation-wide wind power (but majority of money has gone to foreign companies) ($2 billion)

9. Resurfacing a tennis court in Montana ($50,000)

8. University in Indiana studying why young men do not like to wear condoms ($221,355)

7. Funds for Massachusetts roadway construction to companies that have defrauded taxpayers, polluted the environment and have paid tens of thousands of dollars in fines for violating workplace safety laws (millions)

6. Sending 11 students and 4 teachers from an Arkansas university to the United Nations climate change convention in Copenhagen, using almost 54,000 pounds of carbon dioxide from air travel alone ($50,000)

5. Storytelling festival in Utah ($15,000)

4. Door mats to the Department of the Army in Texas ($14,675)

3. University of New York researching young adults who drink malt liquor and smoke pot ($389,357)

2. Solar panels for climbing gym in Colorado ($157,800)

1. Grant for one Massachusetts university for ``robobees'' (miniature flying robot bees) ($2 million)

Grand Total: $4,891,645,229

The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Iowa.

Mr. HARKIN. Mr. President, the so-called supercommittee created by the Budget Control Act has begun their work. It is mandated to produce a plan by November 23 that will reduce future deficits by at least $1.5 trillion. As chair of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, I have been invited to submit recommendations to the supercommittee, and I will do so in the days ahead.

Certainly, I wish this group well. However, it is critically important we define success in terms that matter to working Americans. Frankly, I am deeply disturbed by the Washington groupthink that defines success narrowly in terms of maximizing deficit reduction. I have come to the floor to urge members of the supercommittee to embrace a broader and more powerful definition of success. Success must include boosting the economy and creating jobs.

After all, the most effective way to reduce the deficit is to help 25 million unemployed and underemployed Americans find jobs and become taxpayers once again. There can be no sustained deficit reduction without a recovery of the economy and a return to normal levels of employment. Indeed, just yesterday, the Congressional Budget Office released an analysis showing that if our economy were not in recession--if our economy were not in recession--if it were employing labor and capital at normal levels, the deficit would be reduced next year by an estimated $343 billion--a reduction of one-third of the deficit in 1 year if we just had normal employment.

So I have a simple but urgent message to the supercommittee: Go big on jobs. That message would be strongly seconded by people such as Connie Smith of Tama, IA. In January, she was laid off after working 27 years for the same telecom company. Since being laid off, she has been working as a contractor doing the same type of work for less pay and no benefits.

Jean Whitt would also agree. She was laid off in 2008 and is now a student at Iowa Western Community College, striving for a new career in nursing. She is hoping good jobs will be available when she graduates.

As I said, inside the Washington bubble, our leaders have persuaded themselves that the No. 1 issue confronting America is the budget deficit. I assure everyone that ordinary Americans are focused on a far more urgent deficit: the jobs deficit.

But I am also concerned about a third deficit: the deficit of imagination and vision in Washington today. I am dismayed by our failure to confront the current economic crisis with the boldness earlier generations of Americans summoned in times of national challenge.

Let's be clear about the staggering scale of today's challenge. Our Nation remains mired in the most severe period of joblessness since the Great Depression. As I said, some 25 million Americans are desperate to find full-time employment. According to new data from the Census Bureau, the poverty rate has risen to 15 percent--the highest level in 18 years. Twenty percent of American children are being raised in poverty--one out of every five kids in America.

Last week, the Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Mr. Ben Bernanke, said unemployment is a ``national crisis.'' Very true, Mr. Bernanke. It is a national crisis. It is far and away the No. 1 concern of the American people. That is why an exclusive, single-minded obsession--obsession--with slashing spending and reducing the deficit is not just misguided, it is counterproductive. If the supercommittee cuts the deficit by $1.5 trillion and does nothing to create jobs, this would amount to a massive dose of antistimulus. It will further drain demand from the economy and destroy even more jobs. That, in turn, will make the deficit worse, not better. It is the equivalent of applying leeches to a patient who needs a transfusion.

We must stop this mindless march to austerity. Smart countries, when they have these kinds of challenges, do not just turn a chainsaw on themselves. Instead of the current slash-and-burn approach, which is being sold through fear and fatalism, we need an approach that reflects the hopes and aspirations of the American people.

To be sure, we must agree on necessary spending cuts and tax increases. But we must continue to invest in what will spur economic growth, create jobs, and strengthen the middle class, knowing this is the only sustainable way to bring deficits under control.

Again, I say to the supercommittee: If you are serious about reducing the deficit, you must put job creation front and center in your deliberations and agenda, not just slashing and cutting government spending to reduce the deficit.

I do not want to be misunderstood. My preference, of course, is always to reduce the deficit. I know that. As a senior member of the Appropriations Committee, I appreciate that we must seize every opportunity to prudently--prudently--reduce Federal spending. There are opportunities, including in the Pentagon, to reduce Federal spending while minimizing further damage to the economy and jobs.

However, I believe we must be equally willing to say no--no--to foolish, destructive budget cuts. Most important, as I have said, the supercommittee must broaden its focus to include a sharp emphasis on creating jobs and boosting the economy.

That is why I was very pleased by the plan presented by President Obama: the American Jobs Act. As the President said in his speech to Congress, the American Jobs Act boils down to two things: putting people back to work and more money in the pockets of working Americans.

Most importantly, in my book, the American Jobs Act would dramatically ramp up investments in infrastructure in order to boost U.S. competitiveness and directly create millions of new jobs.

Specifically, the American Jobs Act includes $30 billion to renovate some 35,000 schools and community colleges nationwide. This would create hundreds of thousands of new jobs, especially in the hard-hit construction industry.

The legislation--the President's bill--provides $30 billion to help local school districts hire and retain teachers. This new fund would save or create nearly 400,000 education jobs.

In addition, the American Jobs Act includes $50 billion for immediate investment in our transportation infrastructure. Again, this will dramatically boost employment, while modernizing the arteries and veins of our commerce.

Now people say: How are we going to pay for all this and these other investments, keeping our teachers in the

classroom, renovating the infrastructure? How are we going to pay for all this to get our economy back on track?

For the answer, we again need to listen to the American people. I received a heartfelt message from Dan Carver, a fifth-grade teacher in Carlisle, IA. He says he is struggling similar to other middle-class Americans to pay his bills and his taxes and he does not understand why corporations and the very wealthy are not also paying their fair share.

In poll after poll after poll, by 2-to-1 margins--2-to-1 margins--Americans want an approach that includes tax increases on those who can most afford it, those whose incomes have skyrocketed in recent years, even as middle-class incomes have fallen, those who have benefited the most from tax breaks initiated during the Bush administration. By a 2-to-1 margin--this should be a no-brainer for people elected to Congress. Read the polls. That is what people want done.

We see all those people up on Wall Street. It is now spreading to Washington. There is even an event planned for Mason City, IA, this weekend by a lot of young people, saying: Look, we have to raise revenue. We can't just slash and cut back and retreat. We need to raise revenue and charge forward.

We would be foolish to ignore the voices of working Americans from all walks of life. For more than a decade now, these good citizens have been told that tax breaks for the wealthy will result in millions of new jobs and a booming economy. That is what they have been told. They were told wealthy Americans are so-called job creators, and if we just shove enough tax breaks their way, jobs will magically bloom.

Frankly, this is the same old theory of trickle-down economics, and it manifestly has never worked. For ordinary Americans, the only things that have trickled down are wage cuts, mass unemployment, upside-down mortgages, personal bankruptcies, and disappearing pensions.

Instead of this failed trickle-down economics for the rich, it is time for percolate-up economics for middle-class Americans. We have a saying for this out in the Midwest, and I have heard it many times: You do not fertilize a tree from the top down. You have to put it in at the roots.

It is time to invest directly in jobs by renovating our crumbling infrastructure, rebuilding our schools, putting laid-off teachers back to work. By all means, it is time to ask those who have benefited the most from our economy to pay more--yes, to pay more--to help finance these urgent investments. Because these are the kinds of things individuals cannot do on their own. An individual cannot rebuild a highway or a school. An individual cannot retrofit a building. An individual cannot build new energy efficiency systems. But we can do this acting together. That is why it is time to ask those who have benefited the most from our economy to pay some more.

I close by reiterating that we need to pursue a path that, first and foremost, right now, focuses on job creation; in the longer term, focuses on deficit reduction. After we get the economy going and get people back to work and being taxpayers again, then we can reduce the deficit. As the report showed this week, if we were to just have normal employment levels, we would reduce the deficit by $343 billion.

So I say again to the supercommittee: Do not just focus on slashing, cutting, and retreating.

Focus on raising revenue and charging ahead, investing in education, innovation, infrastructure. It means a level playing field with fairMr. President, recently both the majority leader and the minority leader came down to the floor to talk about the President's jobs bill. There was an effort to bring up this bill by the minority leader, and it was objected to by the majority leader. And I understand that, but all we have heard from the President from the very first time he introduced[Page: S6171] this was ``pass the bill, pass the bill, pass the bill.'' I know there is some reason he keeps using that phrase over and over. It has probably been tested and is one that I think he believes will move a lot of people. Frankly, I don't think it will because too many people remember what happened the last time he had a stimulus bill. That is something which has not been really discussed on the floor in consideration of what he refers to as the jobs bill. So I can see why he keeps talking about passing the bill, because he doesn't really want to talk about it.

His new proposal reminds me so much of that $825 billion stimulus package he rammed through Congress shortly after entering office. It is almost the same thing. The Recovery Act is the $825 billion act. It included only $27.5 billion in highway spending, which was the stimulus portion of that bill. We are talking about 3 percent of the $825 billion.

I am particularly sensitive to this since I have in the past been the chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, and I am now the ranking member. We have a Transportation reauthorization bill we are trying to get up and get up on a bipartisan basis.

Back during the consideration of the Recovery Act, the $825 billion, I tried to pass an amendment on this floor to increase that to about 30 percent instead of 3 percent of the bill. If that had happened, we would not be in the situation we are today. We would have a lot of jobs out there that would be under construction and good things would be happening.

In the case of this $447 billion bill, which is kind of the Recovery Act lite, there is only $27 billion in highway spending, and it is not conceivable that he didn't learn his lesson from the first go-around that that is the main reason people are upset with it right now. That is the reason he keeps saying: Pass the bill, pass the bill.

The proposal includes a few different things, but much of it will be sent to the President to spend however he wants. Now, you may be wondering, will Congress tell the President where to spend the money? To a very limited extent, that is right. When Congress does not tell the President exactly what he is to do with each dime he gets, the President gets to decide what to fund.

This administration has a history of making incredibly poor spending decisions with the money appropriated to it. The biggest example I can think of is the $825 billion stimulus package. When the President signed this bill in February of 2009, he said--and I want you to hold this thought--he said:

What I'm signing, then, is a balanced plan with a mix of tax cuts and investments. It's a plan that's been put together without earmarks or the usual pork barrel spending. It's a plan that will be implemented with an unprecedented level of transparency and accountability.

That is what he said. That is a direct quote. For those of you who are watching, I have news for you: Despite the President's remarks, the spending was not balanced, and it had a tremendous amount of porkbarrel earmark spending even though there were no congressional earmarks. This is a distinction not many people make. I tried to get this point across back when the Republicans very foolishly talked about having a moratorium on earmarks. I said: Those are congressional earmarks. That is not where the problem is. The problem is in bureaucratic earmarks.

The clearest and most recent example of a huge earmark is the loan guarantee that was given to Solyndra. We have been reading about this and hearing about it recently. It is now a bankrupt solar panel manufacturing company. We have heard about that. Solyndra was a politically connected firm from California that was able to lobby the White House to obtain a loan guarantee of $535 million to fund its green jobs pipedream. This happened despite the fact that some in the administration were warning the White House to give them more time to evaluate the company's finances. It seems they were concerned about the company's long-term viability. But these warnings were ignored by the White House. They wanted to fund the project anyway. Why? I think it was for two reasons: First, the White House has a fascination with green energy; second, political gamesmanship. Some of Solyndra's biggest investors are big fundraisers and have been big fundraisers for President Obama. We now know they made repeated visits to the White House. That is not just a coincidence.

Another question is this: How did the White House have the authority to give the loan guarantee to Solyndra in the first place? The short answer is Obama's stimulus package. That was the $825 billion stimulus package. It significantly expanded the Department of Energy's Loan Guarantee Program, and with this expansion the White House was able to select Solyndra for a loan guarantee.

While the stimulus package did not include any porkbarrel spending in the way that most people think about it--congressional earmarks--this provides clarity to the fact that when Congress does not explicitly state where taxpayer funds should go, the money is handed over to the administration to spend however they want. They get to earmark every last dime.

In the case of Solyndra, the President handed it over to his political buddies who were in favor of the green energy projects. If that isn't a porkbarrel project, I don't know what is. Now the damage has been done, and the taxpayers are going to be on the hook for as much as $535 million in losses.

Sadly, Solyndra is just one of many examples of porkbarrel spending in the stimulus bill. We are talking about the first stimulus bill, the $825 billion bill. Not too long ago, Sean Hannity had on his program--I think it took him two programs to get it through--the 102 most egregious earmarks that are recorded. It is really kind of interesting. In fact, I have the whole list here, and I am going to ask that it be made a part of the Record at the conclusion of my remarks.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

(See exhibit 1.)

Mr. INHOFE. I would love to be able to name all of these. These are just ridiculous. There is $219,000 to study the hookup behavior of female college co-eds in New York; $1.1 million to pay for the beautification of Los Angeles, Sunset Boulevard; $10,000 to study whether mice become disoriented when they consume alcohol in Florida. It goes on and on. Again, there are 102 of these. These are the most egregious.

What is interesting is that the day after Sean Hannity exposed these earmarks--102 of them--I came to the floor and I read all 102 of them. I said: What do these 102 earmarks have in common? The answer: Not one is a congressional earmark. They are all bureaucratic earmarks. They all came from the $825 billion.

Remember I said a minute ago that he said there will be no earmarks in this package? It is the same thing he is saying about this second go-around for the jobs bill he is talking about today. The administration took $825 billion that Congress gave it and chose to spend it on stupid things such as the ones I just listed, but there are 102 of them. I hope he will take the time, since it will be in the Record, to read all 102 of them.

What does this have to do with the jobs bill? To me, the jobs bill is simply the President coming back to Congress to ask for more money to spend however he wants on porkbarrel projects such as these. No one has talked about this on the floor. They have talked about the problems they have with this spending bill and why it is really not a jobs bill, but no one is talking about the fact that this is exactly what he did before. I don't know why we are not

talking about this and featuring this because if he said before that there were going to be no earmarks and then he had 102 egregious earmarks, why would he not do the same thing now? The answer is, he would do it. He would like to hand this out to his cronies in ways that would best benefit him.

You may remember the President's State of the Union Address from earlier this year. In it, he promised, and I quote, ``If a bill comes to my desk with earmarks inside, I will veto it.'' Well, you have a promise from the President that unless Congress gives him all of the authority to determine how money is spent through the bureaucratic earmark process, he will veto the bill. In other words, he will veto a bill unless he has total authority on how to spend it, and he can spend it on his own earmarks in spite of the fact that he said there will be no earmarks. So for any jobs bill to be considered, Congress is going to have to let the President decide how all the money is being spent. It is a hard concept to get ahold of.

``Earmarks'' has become a dirty word, and people assume that when you say ``earmarks,'' you are talking about congressional earmarks. That is not the problem. I have legislation I am going to be talking about that will correct this and better inform the public as to what is really going on. So we are finding ourselves in the same situation again.

What is worse is the fact that the problem of bureaucratic earmarks is not limited to special stimulus packages. It is a normal course of business. On any given day, the administration is making thousands of decisions on how to spend money it has appropriated. Congress first passes laws authorizing the executive branch to do certain things, and then we appropriate the money and go and do it. But unless Congress gives specific instructions as to where to spend the money--a process many people decry as congressional earmarks--the administration gets to decide where to spend the money. In other words, the bureaucracy does the earmark or President Obama does it.

I serve on the Armed Services Committee. We are staffed with experts in defending America. We have experts in missile defense, experts in lift capability, all of that. The way it has always happened before is the President--whether it was President Bush or Clinton or any other President--designs a budget, and that budget, the parameters, goes to Congress. Then we in the authorization committees decide if we agree with the President and how he wants to defend America.

A good example of that is that right before the prohibition on earmarks came in, the President sent his budget down--I think that was his first budget--and in that budget was $330 million for a launching system. It was called a Bucket of Rockets. It was a good system. It was something I would like to have for defending America. But when we analyzed it, we looked and we thought, with what is happening right now, our greatest need is to expand our F-18 program and buy six new F-18s. So we took the $330 million he would have spent on the rocket-launching system and spent it on six new F-18s, and it was a wise thing to do. You can't do that now because the President has to make all of the decisions because that would be called a congressional earmark.

Earmarks don't increase spending at all. All they do is say: All right, Mr. President, you go ahead and spend it the way you want to. A recent example of this comes from the Bureau of Land Management within the Department of the Interior.

While I could talk for hours about whether the management of Federal lands is appropriate for government to do, that is not what I want to bring your attention to. That is another discussion for another time. What I am concerned about is how carefully the Bureau of Land Management works to keep its actions aligned with the authorization and power it has been given by Congress. We write laws for a reason. We say the bureaucracy can do certain things and not do certain things. When we do that, we are limiting the bureaucracy and the bureaucracy's authority. We are not saying they can interpret the law in any way they choose, but generally that doesn't stop them from trying.

One thing the Bureau of Land Management is authorized to do by a statute is to enter into contracts and cooperative agreements to manage, protect, develop, and sell public lands. In managing public lands, title 43 authorizes the BLM to, among others things, preserve the land's historic value.

A few days ago, as I was searching through the government's grants database--by the way, this database is something we put in when Republicans were a majority in our committee. The Environment and Public Works Committee has a database which will show people, if they care to wander through, just what the bureaucracy is spending money on.

I was looking through the grants database, and I came across one that shocked me. On September 9 of this year, just a few days ago, the BLM announced its intent to award a grant of $214,000 to the Public Land Foundation to fund a research project to describe in detail why the Homestead Act of 1862 had a significant impact on the history of America. When I asked them to justify that, they started talking about how important history is.

Today, my question is this: What part of this grant has anything to do with today's actual public lands? This is not a grant to dust off the historic landmarks at national parks. This is a research project to study history, which may be a noble task, but nonetheless that is what it is for.

What the American people need to understand is that this sort of thing happens all the time. The bureaucracy is completely numb to the fact that we have a $1.5 trillion deficit just in this year alone, and while this should inform the way it spends money and help to prioritize accordingly, it doesn't. The bureaucracy takes the money given to it by Congress and spends it on porkbarrel projects that are important to the President. Right now, there is no way around this. There is no accountability or transparency built into it in any way. The bureaucracy earmarks its funds.

I believe this needs to be changed, and I am currently drafting legislation that will change the way the bureaucracy makes funding decisions. My legislation will bring true transparency and accountability to the process, and it will require the administration to state explicitly which laws authorize its grant awards. It will also provide a way for Congress to weigh in and challenge the administration's thinking. This is not just for the current administration; it is for any administration.

With trillions of dollars in deficits, we cannot afford to give the President another $447 billion to spend on whatever he wants because that is what it would be. We need to reduce spending, but we also need to ensure that the spending we are doing is justified by the laws Congress passes. Because of this, we need to bring more light and accountability to the bureaucratic earmarking process.

Further, I warn my colleagues to not be fooled into the idea that whenever we pass money off to the administration, it is in safe hands. The opposite is true, and I urge my colleagues to oppose more blank check stimulus spending because of it.

Again, after President Obama stated on February 17, 2009, there will be no earmarks in his $825 billion stimulus bill, it contained more than 100 very egregious, offensive earmarks. I could--again, I am not going to read off the list, but it will be a part of the Record following these remarks I am making now.

He will do it again. If we pass another $450 billion stimulus bill, we can be sure it will be full of earmarks as bad as the ones he put in the initial stimulus bill.

This is our second blank check for the President. He fooled us once. Do not let it happen again.

With that, I yield the floor.

Exhibit 1

Bureaucratic Earmarks in the Stimulus Bill

102. Protecting a Michigan insect collection from other insects ($187,632)

101. Highway beautified by fish art in Washington ($10,000)

100. University studying hookup behavior of female college coeds in New York ($219,000)

99. Police department getting 92 blackberries for supervisors in Rhode Island ($95,000)

98. Upgrades to seldom-used river cruise boat in Oklahoma ($1.8 million)

97. Precast concrete toilet buildings for Mark Twain National Forest in Montana ($462,000)

96. University studying whether mice become disoriented when they consume alcohol in Florida ($8,408)

95. Foreign bus wheel polishers for California ($259,000)

94. Recovering crab pots lost at sea in Oregon ($700,000)

93. Developing a program to develop ``machine-generated humor'' in Illinois ($712,883)

92. Colorado museum where stimulus was signed (and already has $90 million in the bank) gets geothermal stimulus grant ($2.6 million)

91. Grant to the Maine Indian Basketmakers Alliance to support the traditional arts apprenticeship program, gathering and festival ($30,000)

90. Studying methamphetamines and the female rat sex drive in Maryland ($30,000)

89. Studying mating decisions of cactus bugs in Florida ($325,394)

88. Studying why deleting a gene can create sex reversal in people, but not in mice in Minnesota ($190,000)

87. College hires director for project on genetic control of sensory hair cell membrane channels in zebra fish in California ($327,337)

86. New jumbo recycling bins with microchips embedded inside to track participation in Ohio ($500,000)

85. Oregon Federal Building's ``green'' renovation at nearly the price of a brand new building ($133 million)

84. Massachusetts middle school getting money to build a solar array on its roof ($150,000)

83. Road widening that could have been millions of dollars cheaper if Louisiana hadn't opted to replace a bridge that may not have needed replacing ($60 million)

82. Cleanup effort of a Washington nuclear waste site that already got $12 billion from the Department of Energy ($1.9 billion)

81. Six woodlands water taxis getting a new home in Texas ($750,000)

80. Maryland group gets money to develop ``real life'' stories that underscore job and infrastructure-related research findings ($363,760)

79. Studying social networks, such as Facebook, in North Carolina ($498,000)

78. Eighteen (18) North Carolina teacher coaches to heighten math and reading performance ($4.4 million)

77. Retrofitting light switches with motion sensors for one company in Arizona ($800,000)

76. Removing graffiti along 100 miles of flood-control ditches in California ($837,000)

75. Bicycle lanes, shared lane signs and bike racks in Pennsylvania ($105,000)

74. Privately-owned steakhouse rehabilitating its restaurant space in Missouri ($75,000)

73. National dinner cruise boat company in Illinois outfitting vessels with surveillance systems to protect against terrorists ($1 million)

72. Producing and transporting peanuts and peanut butter in North Carolina ($900,000)

71. Refurnishing and delivering picnic tables in Iowa ($30,000)

70. Digital television converter box coupon program in D.C. ($650,000)

69. Elevating and relocating 3,000' of track for the Napa Valley Wine Train in California ($54 million)

68. Hosting events for Earth Day, the summer solstice, in Minnesota ($50,000)

67. Expanding ocean aquaculture in Hawaii ($99,960)

66. Raising railroad tracks 18 inches in Oregon because the residents of one small town were tired of taking a detour around them ($4.2 million)

65. Professors and employees of Iowa state universities voluntarily taking retirement ($43 million)

64. Minnesota theatre named after Che Guevara putting on ``socially conscious'' puppet shows ($25,000)

63. Replacing a basketball court lighting system with a more energy efficient one in Arizona ($20,000)

62. Repainting and adding a security camera to one bridge in Oregon ($3.5 million)

61. Missouri bridge project that already was full-funded with state money ($8 million)

60. New hospital parking garage in New York that will employ less people ($19.5 million)

59. University in North Carolina studying why adults with ADHD smoke more ($400,000)

58. Low-income housing residents in one Minnesota city receiving free laptops, WiFi and iPod Touches to ``educate'' them in technology ($5 million)

57. University in California sending students to Africa to study why Africans vote the way they do in their elections ($200,000)

56. Researching the impact of air pollution combined with a high-fat diet on obesity development in Ohio ($225,000)

55. Studying how make and female birds care for their offspring and how it compares to how humans care for their children in Oklahoma ($90,000)

54. University in Pennsylvania researching fossils in Argentina (over $1 million)

53. University in Tennessee studying how black holes form (over $1 million)

52. University in Oklahoma sending 3 researchers to Alaska to study grandparents and how they pass on knowledge to younger generations ($1.5 million)

51. Grant application from a Pennsylvania university for a researcher named in the Climate-gate scandal (Rep. Darrell Issa is calling on the president to freeze the grant) ($500,000)

50. Studying the impact of global warming on wild flowers in a Colorado ghost town ($500,000)

49. Bridge build over railroad crossing so 168 Nebraska town residents don't have to wait for the trains to pass ($7 million)

48. Renovating an old hotel into a visitors center in Kentucky ($300,000)

47. Removing overgrown weeds in a Rhode Island park ($250,000)

46. Renovating 5 seldom-used ports of entry on the U.S.-Canada border in Montana ($77 million)

45. Testing how to control private home appliances in Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts from an off-site computer ($800,000)

44. Repainting a rarely-used bridge in North Carolina ($3.1 million)

43. Renovating a desolate Wisconsin bridge that averages 10 cars a day ($426,000)

42. Four new buses for New Hampshire ($2 million)

41. Re-paving a 1-mile stretch of Atlanta road that had parts of it already re-paved in 2007 ($490,000)

40. Florida beauty school tuition ($2.3 million)

39. Extending a bike path to the Minnesota Twins stadium ($500,000)

38. Beautification of Los Angeles' Sunset Boulevard ($1.1 million)

37. Colorado Dragon Boat Festival ($10,000)

36. Developing the next generation of supersonic corporate jets in Maryland that could cost $80 million each ($4.7 million)

35. New spring training facilities for the Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies ($30 million)

34. Demolishing 35 old laboratories in New Mexico ($212 million)

33. Putting free WiFi, Internet kiosks and interactive history lessons in 2 Texas rest stops ($13.8 million)

32. Replacing a single boat motor in a government boat in D.C. ($10,500)

31. Developing the next generation of football gloves in Pennsylvania ($150,000)

30. Pedestrian bridge to nowhere in West Virginia ($80,000)

29. Replacing all signage on 5 miles of road in Rhode Island ($4,403,205)

28. Installing a geothermal energy system to heat the ``incredible shrinking mall'' in Tennessee ($5 million)

27. University in Minnesota studying how to get the homeless to stop smoking ($230,000)

26. Large woody habitat rehabilitation project in Wisconsin ($16,800)

25. Replacing escalators in the parking garage of one D.C. Metro station ($4.3 million)

24. Building an airstrip in a community most Alaskans have never even heard of ($14,707,949)

23. Bike and pedestrian paths connecting Camden, N.J. to Philadelphia,

Pennsylvania, when there's already a bridge that connects them ($23 million)

22. Sending 10 university undergrads each year from North Carolina to Costa Rica to study rain forests ($564,000)

21. Road signs touting stimulus funds at work in Ohio ($1 million)

20. Researching how paying attention improves performance of difficult tasks in Connecticut ($850,000)

19. Kentucky Transportation Department awarding contracts to companies associated with a road contractor accused of bribing the previous state transportation secretary ($24 million)

18. Amtrak losing $32 per passenger nationally, but rewarded with windfall ($1.3 billion)

17. Widening an Arizona interstate even though the company that won the contract has a history of tax fraud and pollution ($21.8 million)

16. Replace existing dumbwaiters in New York ($351,807)

15. Deer underpass in Wyoming ($1,239,693)

14. Arizona universities examining the division of labor in ant colonies (combined $950,000)

13. Fire station without firefighters in Nevada ($2 million)

12. ``Clown'' theatrical production in Pennsylvania ($25,000)

11. Maryland town gets money but doesn't know what to do with it ($25,000)

10. Investing in nation-wide wind power (but majority of money has gone to foreign companies) ($2 billion)

9. Resurfacing a tennis court in Montana ($50,000)

8. University in Indiana studying why young men do not like to wear condoms ($221,355)

7. Funds for Massachusetts roadway construction to companies that have defrauded taxpayers, polluted the environment and have paid tens of thousands of dollars in fines for violating workplace safety laws (millions)

6. Sending 11 students and 4 teachers from an Arkansas university to the United Nations climate change convention in Copenhagen, using almost 54,000 pounds of carbon dioxide from air travel alone ($50,000)

5. Storytelling festival in Utah ($15,000)

4. Door mats to the Department of the Army in Texas ($14,675)

3. University of New York researching young adults who drink malt liquor and smoke pot ($389,357)

2. Solar panels for climbing gym in Colorado ($157,800)

1. Grant for one Massachusetts university for ``robobees'' (miniature flying robot bees) ($2 million)

Grand Total: $4,891,645,229

The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Iowa.

Mr. HARKIN. Mr. President, the so-called supercommittee created by the Budget Control Act has begun their work. It is mandated to produce a plan by November 23 that will reduce future deficits by at least $1.5 trillion. As chair of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, I have been invited to submit recommendations to the supercommittee, and I will do so in the days ahead.

Certainly, I wish this group well. However, it is critically important we define success in terms that matter to working Americans. Frankly, I am deeply disturbed by the Washington groupthink that defines success narrowly in terms of maximizing deficit reduction. I have come to the floor to urge members of the supercommittee to embrace a broader and more powerful definition of success. Success must include boosting the economy and creating jobs.

After all, the most effective way to reduce the deficit is to help 25 million unemployed and underemployed Americans find jobs and become taxpayers once again. There can be no sustained deficit reduction without a recovery of the economy and a return to normal levels of employment. Indeed, just yesterday, the Congressional Budget Office released an analysis showing that if our economy were not in recession--if our economy were not in recession--if it were employing labor and capital at normal levels, the deficit would be reduced next year by an estimated $343 billion--a reduction of one-third of the deficit in 1 year if we just had normal employment.

So I have a simple but urgent message to the supercommittee: Go big on jobs. That message would be strongly seconded by people such as Connie Smith of Tama, IA. In January, she was laid off after working 27 years for the same telecom company. Since being laid off, she has been working as a contractor doing the same type of work for less pay and no benefits.

Jean Whitt would also agree. She was laid off in 2008 and is now a student at Iowa Western Community College, striving for a new career in nursing. She is hoping good jobs will be available when she graduates.

As I said, inside the Washington bubble, our leaders have persuaded themselves that the No. 1 issue confronting America is the budget deficit. I assure everyone that ordinary Americans are focused on a far more urgent deficit: the jobs deficit.

But I am also concerned about a third deficit: the deficit of imagination and vision in Washington today. I am dismayed by our failure to confront the current economic crisis with the boldness earlier generations of Americans summoned in times of national challenge.

Let's be clear about the staggering scale of today's challenge. Our Nation remains mired in the most severe period of joblessness since the Great Depression. As I said, some 25 million Americans are desperate to find full-time employment. According to new data from the Census Bureau, the poverty rate has risen to 15 percent--the highest level in 18 years. Twenty percent of American children are being raised in poverty--one out of every five kids in America.

Last week, the Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Mr. Ben Bernanke, said unemployment is a ``national crisis.'' Very true, Mr. Bernanke. It is a national crisis. It is far and away the No. 1 concern of the American people. That is why an exclusive, single-minded obsession--obsession--with slashing spending and reducing the deficit is not just misguided, it is counterproductive. If the supercommittee cuts the deficit by $1.5 trillion and does nothing to create jobs, this would amount to a massive dose of antistimulus. It will further drain demand from the economy and destroy even more jobs. That, in turn, will make the deficit worse, not better. It is the equivalent of applying leeches to a patient who needs a transfusion.

We must stop this mindless march to austerity. Smart countries, when they have these kinds of challenges, do not just turn a chainsaw on themselves. Instead of the current slash-and-burn approach, which is being sold through fear and fatalism, we need an approach that reflects the hopes and aspirations of the American people.

To be sure, we must agree on necessary spending cuts and tax increases. But we must continue to invest in what will spur economic growth, create jobs, and strengthen the middle class, knowing this is the only sustainable way to bring deficits under control.

Again, I say to the supercommittee: If you are serious about reducing the deficit, you must put job creation front and center in your deliberations and agenda, not just slashing and cutting government spending to reduce the deficit.

I do not want to be misunderstood. My preference, of course, is always to reduce the deficit. I know that. As a senior member of the Appropriations Committee, I appreciate that we must seize every opportunity to prudently--prudently--reduce Federal spending. There are opportunities, including in the Pentagon, to reduce Federal spending while minimizing further damage to the economy and jobs.

However, I believe we must be equally willing to say no--no--to foolish, destructive budget cuts. Most important, as I have said, the supercommittee must broaden its focus to include a sharp emphasis on creating jobs and boosting the economy.

That is why I was very pleased by the plan presented by President Obama: the American Jobs Act. As the President said in his speech to Congress, the American Jobs Act boils down to two things: putting people back to work and more money in the pockets of working Americans.

Most importantly, in my book, the American Jobs Act would dramatically ramp up investments in infrastructure in order to boost U.S. competitiveness and directly create millions of new jobs.

Specifically, the American Jobs Act includes $30 billion to renovate some 35,000 schools and community colleges nationwide. This would create hundreds of thousands of new jobs, especially in the hard-hit construction industry.

The legislation--the President's bill--provides $30 billion to help local school districts hire and retain teachers. This new fund would save or create nearly 400,000 education jobs.

In addition, the American Jobs Act includes $50 billion for immediate investment in our transportation infrastructure. Again, this will dramatically boost employment, while modernizing the arteries and veins of our commerce.

Now people say: How are we going to pay for all this and these other investments, keeping our teachers in the

classroom, renovating the infrastructure? How are we going to pay for all this to get our economy back on track?

For the answer, we again need to listen to the American people. I received a heartfelt message from Dan Carver, a fifth-grade teacher in Carlisle, IA. He says he is struggling similar to other middle-class Americans to pay his bills and his taxes and he does not understand why corporations and the very wealthy are not also paying their fair share.

In poll after poll after poll, by 2-to-1 margins--2-to-1 margins--Americans want an approach that includes tax increases on those who can most afford it, those whose incomes have skyrocketed in recent years, even as middle-class incomes have fallen, those who have benefited the most from tax breaks initiated during the Bush administration. By a 2-to-1 margin--this should be a no-brainer for people elected to Congress. Read the polls. That is what people want done.

We see all those people up on Wall Street. It is now spreading to Washington. There is even an event planned for Mason City, IA, this weekend by a lot of young people, saying: Look, we have to raise revenue. We can't just slash and cut back and retreat. We need to raise revenue and charge forward.

We would be foolish to ignore the voices of working Americans from all walks of life. For more than a decade now, these good citizens have been told that tax breaks for the wealthy will result in millions of new jobs and a booming economy. That is what they have been told. They were told wealthy Americans are so-called job creators, and if we just shove enough tax breaks their way, jobs will magically bloom.

Frankly, this is the same old theory of trickle-down economics, and it manifestly has never worked. For ordinary Americans, the only things that have trickled down are wage cuts, mass unemployment, upside-down mortgages, personal bankruptcies, and disappearing pensions.

Instead of this failed trickle-down economics for the rich, it is time for percolate-up economics for middle-class Americans. We have a saying for this out in the Midwest, and I have heard it many times: You do not fertilize a tree from the top down. You have to put it in at the roots.

It is time to invest directly in jobs by renovating our crumbling infrastructure, rebuilding our schools, putting laid-off teachers back to work. By all means, it is time to ask those who have benefited the most from our economy to pay more--yes, to pay more--to help finance these urgent investments. Because these are the kinds of things individuals cannot do on their own. An individual cannot rebuild a highway or a school. An individual cannot retrofit a building. An individual cannot build new energy efficiency systems. But we can do this acting together. That is why it is time to ask those who have benefited the most from our economy to pay some more.

I close by reiterating that we need to pursue a path that, first and foremost, right now, focuses on job creation; in the longer term, focuses on deficit reduction. After we get the economy going and get people back to work and being taxpayers again, then we can reduce the deficit. As the report showed this week, if we were to just have normal employment levels, we would reduce the deficit by $343 billion.

So I say again to the supercommittee: Do not just focus on slashing, cutting, and retreating.

Focus on raising revenue and charging ahead, investing in education, innovation, infrastructure. It means a level playing field with fair taxation--fair taxation--and a strong ladder of opportunity to give every American access to the middle class. It is time to put America back to work. It is time to change the tenor of the debate. It is time to get away from this groupthink in Washington; that if only, if only we would just cut more government spending, somehow magically people will go back to work. It is not going to happen. Only in your dreams.

It will only happen if we are bold enough, as our forefathers and people before us were bold enough, to raise the necessary revenue to put this country back to work. That should be the first charge of this supercommittee.

I yield the floor.

taxation--fair taxation--and a strong ladder of opportunity to give every American access to the middle class. It is time to put America back to work. It is time to change the tenor of the debate. It is time to get away from this groupthink in Washington; that if only, if only we would just cut more government spending, somehow magically people will go back to work. It is not going to happen. Only in your dreams.

It will only happen if we are bold enough, as our forefathers and people before us were bold enough, to raise the necessary revenue to put this country back to work. That should be the first charge of this supercommittee.

I yield the floor.


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