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Mr. SCOTT. Madam President, I have enjoyed--well, not really, but I listened to my colleagues from the left talk about just reopening the government. I think to myself as she used the analogy of saving someone's life, dragging them halfway to the shore and stopping--I think to myself, think about the veterans. The House of Representatives passed a bill to fund the Department of Veterans Affairs.
I think about all those veterans who served our Nation, put their lives on the line. The House of Representatives sent over a bill to fund the very crucial needs of our veterans. Yet the Senate has failed to take it up. I think about the national parks and all the opportunities we have to see our parks reopen, see our veterans from World War II not denied. But, no, the Senate refuses to take it up.
I think of NIH and the critical funding that is necessary to continue the research. Yet our friends on the left refuse to take up this critical piece of legislation.
I enjoy being lectured to. I call it ``the Democrat lecture series,'' but at the end of the day we ought to have action and not simply words. I understand it is important for us to figure out who to blame.
In politics, the lowest common denominator is always fear. Our friends on the left do a very good job of assigning blame to someone, someplace, somehow, all the time, but what we need is leadership, not more information about polls but leadership. We need people committed to a cause. In a town that seems to be the epicenter of activity for the economy, we have two-thirds of this legislative process, the White House and the Senate, being run by our Democratic friends. Yet they want to blame the Republicans for the shutdown.
I call this, no question, undeniably the Democratic shutdown. I hope we find ourselves in a position to tell our veterans we were not kidding when we made the promise. Promises made should be promises kept. There ought to be no question of our commitment. We have seen that commitment demonstrated by our friends in the House, Republicans and Democrats, working together to pass legislation to take care of our veterans. We need more of that. That is leadership, working together, finding common ground to take care of those who have made America possible. But not today, not in this Senate, not when those bills sit idle. But the men and women who served our country cannot sit idle. They go without their benefits. I wonder why. I wonder why we are not seeing the sense of urgency to take care of those areas where there is full agreement. Why are we not taking advantage of the opportunities presented to us on a consistent basis by our friends in the House of Representatives? I do not understand that. I simply do not understand that.
I will say I do find it very difficult to find common ground in the Senate at times. It is going to be very difficult for Republicans and Democrats to find something we have in common. I believe we strive to work in a bipartisan fashion on a consistent basis, and I will tell you that on the most important issues it is very difficult. But I have been encouraged in my research in the last few days of looking for common ground--I have been encouraged that I have found some friends on the left who actually seem to agree with my position on some of the most important issues facing the Nation today. I will even quote some of my friends to the left as I think through the debt ceiling debate.
As a matter of fact, the first quote I will start with from my friends on the left:
The fact that we are here today to debate raising America's debt limit is a sign of leadership failure.
I concur with my friend on the left. Another quote:
Interest payments are a significant tax on all Americans. A debt tax Washington did not want to talk about.
I concur and agree with my friend to the left. Another quote:
Increasing America's debt weakens us domestically and internationally. Leadership means that the buck stops here.
I agree with my friend on the left. My colleague on the left is now the President of the United States. These are quotes from Senator Barack Obama.
Our President of the United States and our Vice President, combined, voted approximately I think it was 10 or 11 times not to raise the debt ceiling of our country. They called it a failure of leadership. I think it is interesting. As a small business owner for the last 15 years I have had the opportunity to borrow what I considered at the time real money. Now that I am in Washington, I have to redefine the definition of real money. But at the time I was trying to get my business started. I went to a bank to borrow some money. The banker had some very interesting questions for me. He wanted to know how I was going to pay it back. He wanted to know what assets I was willing to put up in order to receive the resources I needed to fund my business.
I see the debt ceiling debate as a debate over how we explain to our investors, the American taxpayers, that we are handling responsibly the underlying causes for the need to increase our debt. I cannot tell our investors that we are handling our debt--our spending responsibly. I cannot tell our investors that we have a plan to balance our budgets. I cannot tell our investors, the taxpayers of America, that we are even thinking about controlling our spending.
No. As a matter of fact, over the last 5 years we have spent nearly $5 trillion more than we brought in. And our friends on the left want to have a serious conversation about the spending of this country.
I cannot tell our investors, the American taxpayers, what I want to tell them, but I can tell them that we do not deserve an increase in the debt ceiling unless we produce a plan. I can tell our investors here at home that we do not deserve an increase without balancing our budgets. I can tell them, the taxpayers of America, that until we are willing to cut our spending at the same rate that we increase our credit card limit, we don't deserve their confidence in raising the debt ceiling.
Some would ask: Senator Scott, where, pray tell, would you find the revenue when our friends in the House of Representatives say that there is just no more money for us to cut? We can't find any place to cut anything in this $4 trillion spending plan. Really? Well, there are many options on how to cut spending here in America.
Senator Tom Coburn regularly shares reports on government waste. Last year he showed how the Market Access Program provided $20 million to the Cotton Council International. They used that money to create reality TV shows in India intended to promote the use of cotton. India, for the record, is an exporter of cotton and produces twice the amount the U.S. does.
The OMB released a report that improper payments for Medicare amounted to $47.9 billion in 2010, or 9 percent of Medicare's budget. The Chamber of Commerce looked at the Davis-Bacon requirements and found that it inflates the costs of Federal construction projects by as much as 15 percent and costs the taxpayers over $1 billion annually.
There are over 1,500 programs in the U.S. Government that are in duplication and costing the taxpayers more than $400 billion.
I would like to be able to share with the investors of America, the taxpayers, that we have a plan. I would love to share with the taxpayers of America that one day we will balance our budget. I would love to tell the taxpayers of America, our investors, that they can have confidence in our ability to lead us in such a way that future debt increases will be less likely to happen. I have not seen such a plan. I have not heard conversations about controlling our debt, only conversations about increasing the limit to create more debt.
I am concerned that as we wrestle with the problems of today we have no focus on tomorrow. I hope that this body will work diligently not only to have a conversation about the debt limit of America but to have a conversation about how we take care of the underlying problem.
I yield the floor.
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