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Congressional Budget For The United States Government For Fiscal Year 2010

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. COBURN. Madam President, this was accepted during our debate. The reason I bring it back is that if you ask the American people what they are worried about, they are worried about their jobs, they are worried about their health care, but they are also worried that we are spending their children into oblivion. And they are right--we are.

One of the great things about President Obama's promises was that he said he recognized we have waste in the Federal Government. He recognized we have duplication in the Federal Government. He recognized we have programs that aren't working in the Federal Government. And the commitment he made--and he has made three times since being sworn in as President--is to do a line-by-line evaluation of every Federal program out there, to check it for waste, No. 1; No. 2, to check to see if it is duplicative of something else, which a third of them are; and No. 3 is, does it have any metrics on it and is it being defrauded?

The fact is, it is now common knowledge that at least $300 billion a year--at least $300 billion a year--is either wasted, defrauded, or duplicated in the Federal Government. The real problem is that even though we now have a President who wants to attack that, Congress hasn't been willing to do it. We have not been willing to keep our side of the bargain in terms of oversight and evaluation.

It strikes me that if all the money we are borrowing to run the Government today was really our money, none of us would ever allow what is going on in the Federal Government. None of us would. None of us would allow the duplication.

We had a hearing yesterday in Senator Carper's Federal Financial Management Subcommittee on the waste and fraud in Medicare and Medicaid. It went up to $74 billion--$74 billion, and we are not doing anything about it? Total improper payments. We only have improper payments in about three-quarters of the Federal Government even though it is a mandated law that they have to supply it. But they can't measure it because they don't know what they are paying for.

The fact is, we know we have big problems. We have a fraud bill in front of us that we haven't finished working on that is to go after fraud. Well, the biggest fraud is right here. The biggest waste is right here. So the point ought to be, as we go into a conference on the budget, that we ought to commit to the American people that we are willing to do what they are having to do right now; that we are going to look at where things aren't working, we ought to look at where things are wasted, we ought to look at things we are not measuring and start measuring them, and the things that are not effective, we should get rid of. That is all this says. It just says we will go line by line through every Federal program; that we will have oversight at least once a year on everything that is out there, and we will make a dent in this $300 billion-plus.

Here is the question. Is it moral to waste $300 billion and that $300 billion come out of lost opportunity of our children? Is this a moral position the Senate wants to stand on? Does the Congress want to stand on that? Can our country ultimately survive, if we keep doing what we are doing? The answer to that is emphatically no, we cannot. Every republic in the history of mankind has died under fiscal collapse. They have not been invaded from outside until they rotted from within.

This is a straightforward commitment by the Senate and the Congress, through the budget, to meet President Obama's request that what he is going to do we are going to do, and we are going to weed out a large portion of the ineffectiveness, of the duplication, and of the waste that is in our Government and our grandkids' Government. There is no reason for us to have anything other than a unanimous vote on this motion to instruct.

If you do not think we should be doing that, you do not belong in the Senate. If you do not think we have a constitutional obligation to evaluate where we are spending the money, get rid of the waste and go line by line through all these programs, we need some other people up here. That is because right now our Republic is in jeopardy. It is not from terrorism. It is from our own potential fiscal collapse. The time to attack that is now.

It is my hope the Senate will send a huge vote on this motion that we mean business, we are going to join hands with President Obama, and we are going to fix most of what is wrong, in terms of these programs.

I yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum.

I withdraw that. I see Senator DeMint is here.


Mr. COBURN. Mr. President, I will be very brief. This is fulfilling a campaign promise of Barack Obama. He said he wanted us to go through the budget line by line to eliminate wasteful programs, eliminate duplicative programs. We accepted this earlier. This is a vote to say we are going to do that. We are going to hold up our end of the bargain, as the President is going to hold up his end of the bargain, and we are going to go through and find some of this $300 billion worth of waste.

With that, I yield back.


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