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Commerce, Justice, Science, And Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2010

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, D.C.


Mr. COBURN. I thank the Chair.

Madam President, I just walked out of a hearing on the census, and the Vitter amendment applies to that. It is interesting. We send a million forms out a year called the American Community Survey, and in that survey we ask people whether they are citizens of the United States. And you know what, they answer it. They give an answer to that. And that is a million of those we send out every year.

We are about to conduct a census that ignores the Constitution and will, in fact, disrupt the true allocation of apportionment in this country because the census we are getting ready to ask will ignore whether you are a true citizen of this country. Legal or otherwise, it will ignore that. It will ignore whether you have voting rights, whether you are here properly, whether you have broken our laws and are here improperly, and we will see a maldistribution to the tune of 10 seats in States that shouldn't have them and States that should have 10 more seats won't have them. And that is based on the Census data this year.

So what Senator Vitter is offering is a response to following the Constitution and also recognizing that we are getting ready to do a census next year that is going to get it wrong. My hope is that my colleagues will consider very carefully that they took an oath to defend the Constitution, and that Constitution speaks very clearly--in this little book--about what the enumeration is supposed to be. It is about citizens of the United States, not residents of the United States. If, in fact, we do this the way it looks like we are going to, what we will be doing is changing our Constitution. What we are actually going to do is we are just going to throw our Constitution down and step on it.

So he is not asking anything from a racial standpoint or anything other than for a fair enumeration by which the Census agrees that if they were to do it properly, they would need to ask that question. They have printed 100 million forms already, and the question is, Do we want to waste that money and throw those forms out? Well, there is an answer to that. All you have to do is put in an insert, and here is question No. 11. That will cost very little money and then we will actually have a true census based on what the Constitution says, not on what we think might politically benefit one State over another.

Madam President, I know the chairman of the Finance Committee is here and would like to make a unanimous consent request, and I will yield to him at this time.


Mr. COBURN. Madam President, America has to ask itself a question right now. This bill costs $2.8 billion, and 95 percent of the people will not feel anything if we don't do this. But 5 percent will, and I readily admit that. We are going to take $2.8 billion from our kids or from future Medicare payments--one way or the other, we are going to steal it from our kids--to fix a problem for 5 percent of the people who are on Medicare or will be on Medicare.

This is exactly the kind of problem that the Congress ducks. We are ducking it. We are kicking the can down the road because we are afraid to do the right best thing for America.

Let me give a breakdown. First, I will just say I appreciate the leadership of the Senator from Montana on the Finance Committee.

The Social Security Act holds three-quarters of the beneficiaries harmless for increases in the Medicare Part B premium during the years in which there is no COLA, as the chairman just stated. But for the other one-fourth of the beneficiaries not held harmless, little impact will be felt. According to the Congressional Research Service, the majority of this group is comprised of Medicaid, as the chairman just stated, the vast majority of them, which covers their premiums anyway. So if there is a cost transfer, it will be cost-transferred back to the Federal Government anyway because we pay 67 percent of all the Medicaid costs anyway. Finally, the remainder of those not held harmless--high-income individuals making over $85,000 a year as an individual or $170,000 as a couple and new beneficiaries during their first year, for which they will receive Medicare, Social Security, or Medicare Part B benefits--the vast majority of all these people have a supplemental policy, so they won't feel anything.

So what are we doing? We are taking $2.8 billion--and we may be taking it from the Medicare Improvement Fund, which ultimately takes it out of Medicare, or we are going to take it from our grandkids, and we are not going to say that we can't do this. There was no inflation except in health care. And when you look at it, there is actually a negative number, negative inflation. There was actually deflation. Things roughly cost six-tenths of 1 percent less this year than last, and those are the basic necessities of life. And because we don't have the courage to face the situations in front of us, we are just going to kick it down the road. That is what is wrong. That is why we find ourselves with $12 trillion worth of debt, almost now $100 trillion in unfunded liabilities. That is why we find that a child born today has $400,000 in unfunded liabilities, and by the time they are 20 years of age they will be responsible for $800,000 worth of debt on them that they incurred for us.

So I will make two final points. The heritage of this country is for one generation to sacrifice for the next. This generation in this body has turned that upside down, and we are saying to the next two generations: You sacrifice for us because we don't have the courage to make the hard choices. And the hard choices have to be made. We are on an absolutely unsustainable course in this country financially. Read the papers. The dollar is under assault. We are dependent on foreign countries to finance our debt. Our debt will double in the next 5 years and triple in the next 10. And now we are playing the political game of not having a small percentage of seniors having an increase in cost, and mainly those who can afford it.

So the question is, take $2.8 billion from our grandkids, one way or the other, and protect that 5 percent of the seniors, including Bill Gates and every other very rich person in this country, or do as the Honorable Steny Hoyer said, the majority leader for the Democrats in the House:

I don't know how many of you can go to sleep at night worried about whether Ross Perot can pay his premium, but this will freeze Ross Perot's basic premium from going up. I think that as well meaning as this legislation is, it's not about poor seniors, it's about politics.

I recognize this can come back and we will do it, but at this time, for the good of our country, to restore the heritage of our country, Madam President, I have to object.


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