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Location: Washington, DC



Mr. COBURN. Mr. President, I come to the floor to advise the American public. We just heard a very eloquent talk by the Senator from Iowa on the motion he plans to offer to instruct conferees on food stamps, but I think it is very important that the American people recognize that 1 out of every 19 people in this country who receive food stamps receive them illegally. In other words, they are not eligible.

In this motion to instruct, it states in No. 5:

The Food Stamp Program operates efficiently and effectively with its error rate at an all-time low.

It is at an all-time low. It is 6.64 percent. In other words, 1 out of 14 who are getting food stamps have an error associated with what they are receiving, or 1 out of 15 or 16. But in terms of overpayments, 5.5 percent of the money spent, $1.6 billion, is spent on food stamps to people who don't qualify.

An easy way for us to control food stamps is to make the error rate less--in other words, to do a better job--instead of to gloss over and say we don't have a problem here and it is running efficiently and effectively. Anybody else in their own personal budget, if they were paying out 5.5 percent more than what they should be, would be quick to change that.

The Federal financial management oversight subcommittee which I chair had a hearing this year. It is true, they have reduced the error rate some. But a 6.9-percent overall error rate is unacceptable, and a 5.5-percent overpayment rate is highly unacceptable. In a time of tremendous budget deficits, in a time of war, and a time of natural disasters that have hit us greater than we have ever seen, accepting 5.5 percent and saying we can't do better is unacceptable. It is unacceptable by everybody who lives by a budget out there who is an American citizen. For us to have a motion to instruct to say that is good, that is effective, that is efficient, it is not the truth.

We need to be cognizant of the fact that we have a long way to go to help those people who need us with food but at the same time to not help those people who are cheating the system, who are squandering money that would otherwise go to people who have needs when those people who don't have needs are stealing from the system. I think it is important for the record to reflect that.

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