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Floor Speech

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Location: Washington DC

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By Mr. INHOFE:

S. 3473. A bill to replace automatic spending cuts with targeted reforms, and for other purposes; to the Committee on Finance.

Mr. INHOFE. Mr. President, I am waiting now for them to bring up a bill I have filed today and will have a number to go with it which I will announce in a moment.

First of all, let me say that the talk of the whole country right now is on the sequestration problems we are having. I would only observe that I don't know why it is so difficult for people to understand, but President Obama has written four budgets and these budgets have come before us, and if we add up all of the deficits in the four budgets, it comes to $5.3 trillion worth of deficits. I suggest that is more deficit than all Presidents in the history of this country for the past 200-plus years.

So, people say, how did we get into this mess? Because when we have those kinds of deficits over a period of time, we wonder where it is coming from. Let me tell my colleagues where it didn't come from, where it wasn't spent, and that is military.

I went over the first budget President Obama had. I went over to Afghanistan so I could make sure I could get the attention of the American people and let them know how this disarming of America by President Obama is going. Of course, if one of my colleagues was part of that first budget, they would know that it cut out our only fifth-generation fighter, the F-22; our lift capacity, the C-17; the future combat system; the ground based interceptor in Poland. That was just the first budget. Then it has gotten worse since that time. Since there isn't time to go over that detail year by year, I can only say that the President has already cut in his budget over the next decade $487 billion, roughly $500 billion, $ 1/2 trillion--from defense spending over the next 10 years.

I would suggest to my colleagues that the American people--this is something that is very frustrating, because they assume that when we send our kids into battle, they have the best of equipment, and this just flat isn't true. The British have an AS90, a Howitzer that is better than ours. The Russians have the 2S19 that is better than ours. Even South Africa has a system that is a better nonline-of-sight cannon than we have in our arsenal. The Chinese have a J-10 that is better than ours. In fact, they are now cranking them out to where they rival our F-15s, F-16s, and F/A18s.

So the point I am making here is there has been no emphasis. If we go out and borrow and increase the deficit by $5.3 trillion as this President is doing, one would think we would be in a position to have a lot more robust military, but the military has been consistently cut over that period of time.

In the event the Obama sequestration as it is designed right now goes through, that will be another $ 1/2 trillion that will come out of the military. Even the President's own Secretary of Defense, Secretary Panetta, has said if these cuts take place--talking about the Obama sequestration cuts--in addition to what he has already cut, it would be ``devastating to the military.'' That means we would have the smallest ground fleet since the 1940s, we would have the smallest fleet of ships since 1915, and the smallest tactical fighter capability or force in the history of the Air Force.

So if we want the United States to continue providing the type of global leadership our people have come to expect and meet the expectations of the American people--when we talk to the American people, they are shocked when they find out other countries have things that are better than we have.

If we want to beat this, then we are going to have to do something about, No. 1, what is happening to the military; and No. 2, the sequestration.

I have it all in one bill. In a minute we will get a number for that bill. Anyway, it is called the Sequestration Prevention Act of 2012. It replaces the sequestration cuts with some smart reforms, and I am going to go over those in a minute to show my colleagues what they are. It replaces the $1.2 trillion and then has a lot of money left over.

Let me just kind of go over what this bill would do. People keep saying: We cannot do anything about it. We cannot do anything about the sequestration, the cuts.

We had this great committee that was supposed to be out there finding $1.2 trillion over a 10-year period and yet we have a President who was able to give us deficits of five times that much over just a 4-year period.

What it does, first of all, to come up with this $1.2 trillion, plus rebuilding the military--we want to rebuild the military, in my estimation, up to 4 percent of GDP. For the last 100 years, prior to 1990--for 100 years--the average defense spending constituted 5.7 percent of GDP. That was the average, in times of war and in times of peace. Now it is all the way down, after his sequestration, to below 3 percent; in other words, about half of that.

What I wish to do with additional funds that come from this bill I am introducing today is put that back into the military and bring us up to 4 percent of GDP--still considerably less than where we have been over the last 100 years.

The first thing it does is completely repeal ObamaCare and adopts Paul Ryan's approach to block granting the Medicaid Program so States have complete control over the dollars they use to reach their low-income populations with health care assistance. Together, these two changes will reduce spending by $1.1 trillion over 10 years.

Secondly, it returns nondefense discretionary spending to the 2006 levels. When this President came in, the amount of the nondefense discretionary spending surged. This would have a savings over that period of time of $952 billion.

The third thing it does is it block grants the Food Stamp Program and converts it into a discretionary program so States have complete control over the design of their nutrition assistance programs to best meet the needs of their low-income populations. This provision reverses the massive expansion we have seen of the Food Stamp Program under the Obama administration, which has literally doubled in size, up to 100 percent, since he took office.

On President Obama's inauguration day, just under 32 million people were on food stamps. Today, it is more than 46 million people, and they receive these benefits. It is going to have to stop. It will continue to go up if we do not do something about it. This provision saves $285 billion.

By the way, I think it is important to know, when we look at the farm program, the farm program is a welfare program because they increase all these provisions and call it part of the farm bill. But that is a different subject, and I will talk about it later, not today but later.

The fourth thing the legislation does is it reduces the Federal workforce by 10 percent through attrition. Nobody out there is going to be fired. There are not going to be any cuts. In fact, it would continue to have some modest increases in payment for those who are there. Through attrition, the savings would be about $144 billion over 10 years.

The fifth thing the bill does is it repeals the authority of the Federal Government to spend taxpayer dollars on climate change or global warming. This is kind of interesting because very few people know that--even though they remember that every time there has been a bill on cap and trade, there is a cost to the American people of somewhere between $300 billion and $400 billion a year, and people's heads start spinning when we talk about these large amounts. Sometimes in my State of Oklahoma, what I have done is take the total number of families who file Federal tax returns and then I apply this to it. This would be about $3,000 per family in my State of Oklahoma. Yet even the Director of the EPA admits that if we did this, it would not reduce CO

2 emissions worldwide. That is the Director of the EPA, Lisa Jackson, and that is on the record. I appreciate her honesty in that respect.

If we do this right now--what people do not know is this President has spent $68.4 billion since he has been President on all this global warming stuff. That is without authority because we have clearly defeated all those bills. What he has done through regulations is what he could not do through legislation. But nobody knows about it, until now. Now they know about it.

Anyway, if we stop doing that over the next 10 years, that will save an additional $83 billion.

Finally, the legislation includes comprehensive medical malpractice and tort reform. That is the same thing that was passed by the House of Representatives and that would save $74 billion over 10 years.

All told, all the savings generated would be $2.6 trillion--not $1.2 trillion--$2.6 trillion over 10 years. So do not let anyone tell you, we cannot get there from here. Clearly, we can get there from here.

We use the remaining amount to beef up the military to get back to our 4-percent level. I believe if we were to talk to the average American, they would say: Yes, let's go ahead and do this. Why aren't we doing it now?

Let me mention one other thing before I conclude; that is, we have something called the WARN Act. What that does is require the employers--who know because of sequestration there are going to be layoffs--to give pink slips at least 60 days prior to the time that will happen. Under sequestration, if they do not adopt my act, if they do that, then those pink slips would have to be out there by the 2nd of November.

The President does not want that to happen. He does not want the Obama sequestration to be pointed out and identified as to what is causing them to lose their jobs, so he is trying to get companies not to comply with the WARN Act.

Clearly, the WARN Act says ``an employer shall not order a plant closing or mass layoff until the end of a 60-day period after the employer serves written notice of such an order.''

The WARN Act states--this is very significant because if there are companies out there that are listening to the President when he is asking them not to issue the pink slips, this is what would happen to them--it states that ``any employer who orders a plant closing or mass layoff in violation of Section 3 ..... shall be liable to each aggrieved employee who suffers an employment loss as a result of such closing or layoff.''

In other words, if they do not do it, then that opens the doors for all the trial lawyers to come in. Just imagine the cases. At Lockheed Martin, they say they are going to have to let go of some 120,000 people. If they had a class action suit, each one who was let go would receive something like $1,000. That would be $120 million that company would have to pay. I cannot imagine the board of directors of any company anywhere in America not complying with this legal act called the WARN Act.

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