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Public Statements

American Recovery And Reinvestment Act Of 2009 - Continued

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. COBURN. Mr. President, I can't say I didn't expect that we would be where we are tonight. But this country needs to know the way this bill we have been talking about, and probably the bill we are going to see, is undoubtedly the largest generational theft bill in the history of mankind. When I say generational theft, I am not just talking about money. I am talking about opportunities and I am talking about futures.

There is nobody on this side of the aisle who doesn't want to do something to fix our economy and stimulate our economy. What this bill does--and the families who are listening to this right now, you ought to think: If you are one of those who are unemployed right now and hurting, $12,000 is going to be added to your debt once you get a job again, for your family. If you are struggling out there, but you are holding on, we are going to steal $12,000 from you and your kids. Then those of us who might be doing well, we are going to take $12,000 from you, so maybe that is OK in a time such as this. But what is not OK is how this bill is going to spend that money.

If you like how efficient the post office is that lost $3 billion this year, and if you like the way the Federal Government works, wait until this money starts going through the Federal Government. If we have $450 billion that is going to be in programs, 10 percent of it is going to get chewed up before it ever leaves Washington. Then, when it gets to your State to supposedly be a stimulus, another 10 percent of it is going to get chewed up. So we are going to lose $90 billion because we are going to decide to run it through the inefficient bureaucracies. I would ask: What does that stimulate? Federal workers are great, but they don't produce wealth, and the money ought to go into job-creating exercises that create wealth. What is going to happen to your family? The question will be, What is going to happen if we don't do anything? We are not proposing to do nothing.

There could be a true bipartisan solution to this, but that hasn't been offered. We have seen slow walked all day the inability to get amendments. It is highly unlikely any other amendments will be offered.

I want my colleagues to think how can we best stimulate this economy, and how can we do no harm as we do that? This bill--this generational theft bill--does tons of harm. Let me tell my colleagues the biggest harm it does. There is no guarantee this is going to work, especially when we haven't fixed the housing and mortgage system and we haven't fixed the liquidity issue. Here is the harm it does. Every State, save California and New York, will get more money out of this bill than their deficits are today--every State. We are going to transfer, by what we are doing here, a lack of fiscal responsibility to every State. We have had Governors calling up here from all across this country saying, You are going to send us a whole lot more money than we need. I have legislators who are trying to spend money. They are slow walking me now, so I can't run this State and keep it fiscally sound. That is coming from Democratic and Republican Governors alike. We are going to transfer the incompetence of the Federal Government in Congress to every State house in this country. Think about what we are doing with $12,000 per family.

One final point I will make. Barack Obama is my close personal friend. One of the things he said is that we ought to get rid of the programs that don't work. We ought to put metrics on the programs so we can measure them, and then when we look at them we will know whether we are truly investing in an adequate way. We are blindly going to invest in things and there is not one iota in this bill or the House bill that eliminates any of the $300 billion that we know is being wasted right now and can be fully documented--not one attempt to do that. So if we cared about stimulating the economy and we cared about the future and we cared about those who are having a hard time today, why wouldn't we do the hard work to get rid of what doesn't work before we spend more money on things that don't work?

I would end with this. We got in trouble and we are in this mess because we spent money that we didn't have on things we didn't need. And the answer for Congress is to do more of the same. When we do more of the same, what we do is we mortgage--the only thing we are doing on mortgages is we are mortgaging our children's and grandchildren's future.

This body works on the power of 60, and it will happen, but the precarious nature we find ourselves in today, the responsibility of passing this bill when most of it is not going to make a big difference--not truly going to stimulate the economy--and claiming it is bipartisan when it is not, is going to leave a legacy that nobody who votes for this bill is going to embrace.

With that, I yield the floor.


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