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Concurrent Resolution On The Budget For Fiscal Year 2010 - Conference Report

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. COBURN. Mr. President, I wish to spend a few minutes talking about the budget that is before us and make some simple notes.

In 73 pages, this budget spends $3.5 trillion in 1 year. That is an astounding amount of money. It spends $17.9 trillion, at a minimum, over the next 5 years.

This budget is more than a document full of numbers. It is a statement of priorities. My feeling is it does not address some of the key fundamental challenges we face as a nation.

In fact, it is going to make some of the challenges we have worse because we are going to be spending money we don't have on things we don't need. Every family in this country today, as we know by decreased consumer spending, is making hard choices. They are making priorities. Their priorities are: How do we do the absolute minimum necessary, as well as how do we say we are going to have the largest savings rate we have had in 40, 50 years in this country so we can save for tomorrow? Most of the time, those families are not just thinking about the adult members of those families; most of the time those families are making those decisions because they are thinking into the future about their children.

We are not doing that with this budget. As a matter of fact, the only thing we are thinking about in this budget for our children is how much we are going to put on their backs because we refuse to face the realities of living within our means as every family is trying to do out there today. We are going to transfer a doubling of the publicly held debt. Over the next 5 years, it is going to double, and over the next 10 years it is going to triple.

That is going to have a serious impact on us as a nation, but it is going to have a personal impact on every young child out there today. Let me tell my colleagues what the impact is going to be. We are going to steal opportunity from them because we refused to make the hard choices today. The impact is going to be that a large portion of them aren't going to be able to afford to go to college. We know education is one of the areas that advance our society, that create opportunities for American exceptionalism, that create opportunities for advancement of all through education. Yet the things we are doing today, by stealing the money from them in the future and burdening them with an interest obligation that most of them won't earn the amount we are going to have to pay every year, seem to me to be penny wise and pound foolish.

The other thing this document does is it has go-pay. It doesn't have pay-go in it; it has go and pay. What it says is: We are not going to be responsible, so you--meaning the next two generations--you go and pay for it. We claim pay-go, but, as seen in all of the documents, there is no pay-go application to the biggest expenditures in this bill. We just take it off line and we allow us to create all of these new programs and new items. Yet we don't have to be responsible to make the hard choices about what is important, what is a priority, and what is not a priority.

Last year, families across this country saw less than a 2-percent increase in their incomes. After a 9-percent across-the-board--not counting the stimulus, just the omnibus bill--we are going to then bump up another 7.2 percent. So we are going to grow the Government 4 times faster than the income increase was last year, and now we are going to grow it 3 1/2 times more, faster, than what personal income has risen and 70 times greater than what the net inflation is going to be. That is called real spending, real growing the Federal Government, not making the hard choices. What it results in, in spite of what we call it--whether it is my favorite pet program or somebody else's--what it results in is less liberty, less freedom for the generations that will follow. You tell me a country where you can have real freedom when you have no economic freedom. There isn't freedom when there is no economic freedom. What we are doing with this budget is slashing into the economic liberties of the children and grandchildren who follow us.

During the Senate consideration, I offered numerous amendments that were designed to make us make hard choices, including allowing penalty-free withdrawals from retirement accounts to make some of the mortgage payments people are having trouble with today, to allow us to help. It was accepted unanimously. Not one person voted against it. It is not in this final document.

Ending bogus performance bonuses by Government contractors and executives--not one person expressed an objection to that--it is not in the final budget.

Reviewing the budget line by line for waste, fraud, inappropriateness, and metrics was agreed to. As a matter of fact, the chairman said right before we voted on the final bill that this is one we will try to protect in the conference. It comes out of conference, nothing is there. That is one of President Obama's promises. We won't even help him do the things he said he wanted to do.

To set performance standards to identify failing Government programs, not one person objected on the Senate floor. It was unanimous. Yet when it comes out of the conference, none of it is there.

Ending no-bid contracts--something every American knows this Congress has a problem with because we let the favorite one get no-bid contracts, the well-connected, the well-heeled; requiring competitive bidding on anything above $25,000 outside of national security issues, nobody objected to that. It actually had a vote prior where we had a 97-to-nothing vote. When it comes out of the conference, it is not in there.

Protecting patients and health care providers from health care coercion, it is not in there.

So we are going to pass a budget and say: You go pay, and all the things we really need to do to make the programs we have today efficient and to measure the programs we have today and control some of the waste, fraud, and abuse that is over $300 billion a year--all of the things that needed to be in this budget to make sure that happens got rejected in the conference. What should the American people think about that? They are certainly not going to go out and have their plumbing redone in their bathroom without getting some quotes on it. They are going to make people competitively bid. If they buy a car, they are not just going to go to an automobile showroom and pay the first place they go; they are going to price that because it is a necessity to get good value today. Yet we reject that as a body. The House rejected it. The Senate rejected it in conference. What should the American people think about us? We won't do any of the commonsense things they are having to do right now so we can get rid of some of the $300 billion of waste that we don't want to charge to our children. We won't do it. Why is that? Why is it we won't do that? Is there some other reason? Can somebody explain to me why we would not want to go through the budget in a time when we are going to run close to a $2 trillion budget deficit that is all charged to our kids, that we wouldn't want to go through it and find the waste, fraud, and abuse in the programs that don't work? This conference report rejects doing that. Are we just lazy? Maybe we don't care. Which is it? It certainly can't be that there is a logical reason we wouldn't do that. Yet we didn't do it. Why would we not get rid of some of the waste? We have $80 billion worth of fraud a year in Medicare and Medicaid. Nothing is being done about it.

We are going to have a reconciliation process that is going to totally change the history of the Senate forever in terms of the 1974 Budget Act. We are going to hand to us a redo of all of the health care, and the health care we run today, which accounts for 61 percent if you count everything that the Federal Government is into, is the most wasteful, fraudulent, lame system in the world. Yet we won't address it.

I don't want a legacy of stealing opportunity from my grandchildren or anybody else's. If you vote for this budget without this kind of hard work that we should be required to do, of accountability to the American people to get rid of some of the waste, and do what any other prudent person would do in terms of competitively bidding projects, you are saying that is OK, it is OK to steal. There is no other word for it. It is theft of opportunity from our children and our grandchildren because we don't have the backbone to stand up and do the hard work.

President Obama has asked for this. He has asked for us to go line by line. We have an opportunity with a bill moving through the Senate to do that. What do we do? We say, no, it is our way or the highway, Mr. President. You can do it over there. But we are the ones who control all of these programs. And we have done a terrible job. As a matter of fact, if you look at the oversight hearings that occurred in the Senate and measure them compared to all of the other hearings, they count for about 2 percent of the hearings we had. What do we do when a new problem comes up?

We don't look to see how the present program is working and what we can do to fix it; we just create another one and charge that to our grandkids rather than say: Where are the metrics to measure what this program is doing? Is it accomplishing what we want? Is it efficient? Could we do it a different way? We just ignore it and we create a brandnew program. This budget is full of that.

So I will finish my remarks by again saying that if you vote for this budget, there is a real question in my mind whether you actually can represent to your constituencies that you feel their children are worth the hard work of this body. There is also the question of whether what President Obama ran on in terms of doing a line-by-line, of getting rid of the waste, of actually measuring the effectiveness of programs, whether we are going to help him do that. This document says we are not.

So all the commonsense reforms that would put some burden on us we have taken out, and then in this budget we have said: Children, we are going to be at $17.3 trillion of publicly held debt in 10 years, and you go pay for it. You go pay for it because we don't have the courage and we don't care for you enough to make the hard work and hard decisions now to lessen that burden on you.

That is what this budget is about. It is about growing the Federal Government at a size and a pace that we have never seen before in this country--have never seen--and growing the debt to a level that is going to cripple productivity and opportunity in the future.

There are the votes to pass this budget, but the American people need to know what this budget really is. What it is is an escape from responsibility, an expansion of the Government knowing best, and an elimination of opportunity of generations to come.

With that, I yield the floor.


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