Export-Import Bank Reauthorization Act of 2012--Motion to Proceed

Floor Speech

By:  Thomas Coburn
Date: May 15, 2012
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. COBURN. What most people do not realize is the Federal Government is now twice the size it was in 2001. Think about that. We are spending twice as much money as we did in 2001. As a matter of fact, if we go back 15 years, our deficit this year is bigger than what our entire budget was. That is how out of control the Federal Government is.

There is a political reason we are not having a budget. Everybody understands that. Nobody is going to say that. The political reason no budget was proposed and run through the Senate to create a conference committee with the House is because we do not want to make the hard choices in an election year.

Budgets for families are about making hard choices, and yet here we are supposed to represent leadership in our country. We refuse to make hard choices about the direction.

I had the great opportunity to speak with some members in the War College class not long ago. We got into talking about budgets. They said: Do you realize how difficult it is for us to try to spend money when you send us a continuing resolution, and we do not know about it until 10 days before it is going to take effect, how difficult it is for us to try to manage in a prudent way the money that the Federal Government spends when we have no budgetary guidelines? There is waste out the kazoo when you ask us to do that.

So regardless of the fact that there is a law that says we will pass a budget, which has been totally ignored by the majority leader, the consequences of that are tremendous. What most people talk about is how do we get out of the problem. What I would put forward in terms of our budget, there is not a problem in front of our country we cannot solve.

What we lack is leadership to pull us together as Americans to say: Here is the problem. Here are the solutions. Let's find a compromise in the middle for the solution, and let's solve our problem. We have refused to do that. But, most importantly, we refuse to look at ourselves.

I have a couple of examples. The GAO put out its second annual report--- the first one was last year, the second annual report this year--in terms of duplicative programs. We have had amendments on this floor fail routinely that said we ought to know what we are doing before we pass another bill. We ought to know what is already out there. That has been rejected by my colleagues.

But I am going to show charts that show how ridiculous we are in terms of how we are well meaning but absolutely stupid in terms of how we address problems that we perceive is the Federal Government's role.

The GAO put out a list of duplications. I am just going to read a few of them. I have given speeches on the floor on others, but there are 209 different programs--209 different programs in the Federal Government for science, technology, engineering, and math initiatives for our educational system. We spend $3 billion a year on that.

The overlap is unbelievable. Here is the chart that shows all of the different programs with all of the different agencies involved, all of them overlapping, most of the money wasted in terms of how we spend it because there is no concentration, there is no coordination, and what we have is a ridiculous array--not that it is wrong to want to have more science, more technology, more engineering, and more math students. But we are spending all the money on the bureaucracy when we could have five programs: one for upper level, one for lower level, one for minorities, one for disadvantaged, and one for others. Here is the complex. It is mind boggling how many programs we have, and there is not a metric to measure whether any one of these is effective. That is $3 billion a year.

We could have one-tenth as many programs and spend one-half as much
money and have more students come out with science, technology, engineering, and math backgrounds. But we have decided to do it piecemeal and never do the oversight and never consolidate. If we wanted to get out of
a $1 trillion deficit, we do it $1 billion at a time, not do it with $1 trillion at a time.

The other program, which is even more difficult to ascertain, is in the Department of Justice grants. Let me go through those just for a second. There are 253 duplicative programs in the Department of Justice. We spend a total of $3.9 billion a year, and here is what the GAO tells us. People who apply for one grant in DOJ--for one thing--turn around and apply for it somewhere else for exactly the same thing. The Department of Justice does not know they just gave them two grants for exactly the same thing because there are so many different grant programs and nobody is watching the store.

So the point is nobody would run their household this way. No business would operate this way. States that are successful do not operate this way. The reason we do this is because we do not have a budget and we do not have any oversight and we are not minding the store. The way to change what is coming for our country is to start doing everything that is necessary to address the problem.

And the problem is this: We are spending money we do not have on things we do not need, and nobody in Congress wants to do the hard work of ferreting out what works and what does not and making the hard choices because every one of these programs has a constituency.

So the parochialism and the constituency and short-term thinking we are now bound up in keeps us from saving ourselves. Last quote, and I will finish with this: John Adams said, ``There has yet to be a democracy that did not murder itself.'' We are on that way if we do not change direction. It is not a Democrat-Republican problem. It is all our problem. It will not matter what our political persuasion is when we face the very difficult coming times if we do not respond with a cogent budget for this country.

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