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

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. COBURN. Mr. President, I am going to spend about 20 minutes talking about amendments I have that are germane and we will be voting on. But they are small amendments. There is nothing big here. They are amendments that are designed to make a point.

We ran, by a factor of two, the largest deficit in the history of this country. Of the money we spent in the 2009 fiscal year, we borrowed 43 percent of it: 43 cents out of every dollar we expended, 43 cents we borrowed from our children and our grandchildren.

We have before us a bill, the Commerce-Justice-Science bill, that will go up almost 13 percent, 12.6 percent this year, on the back of a 15.5-percent increase last year. The latest inflation numbers are deflation, a minus four-tenths of 1 percent.

The question America has to ask itself, after we pass $800 billion of stimulus spending for which this agency got billions which are not reflected in any of these increases, is how is it that when we can spend $1.4 trillion we do not have, we can come to the floor and continue to have double-digit increases in almost everything we pass?

It does not take a lot of math to figure out that if we keep doing what we are doing, in 4 1/2 years the size of the Federal Government doubles. If you do this for another 4 years, we will double the size of the Federal Government. So there is absolutely no fiscal restraint within the appropriations bills that are going through this body with the exception of one, and that is the Defense Department, probably the one that is most important to us in terms of our national security, in terms of where there is no question we have waste but where we need to make sure that we are prepared for the challenges that face us.

If you look at what we passed through the body, and you look at 2008, 2009, you go 10, 9.9, 9.4, 13.0, 13.3, 14.1, 15.7--that was last year--and now we are going to go 5.7, 7.2, 1.4, 12.6, 22.5, 16.2, and 12.6.

Not only are we on an unsustainable course as far as mandatory programs such as Social Security and Medicare--by the way, we have now borrowed from Social Security, stolen from Social Security, $2.4 trillion which we do not even recognize we owe. We do not put it on our balance sheet. We have stolen $758 billion from the Medicare trust fund, which we do not even recognize. So we borrowed $3 trillion from funds that were supposed to be there for our seniors and our retirees which our children--not us; our children and our grandchildren--will have to repay.

I saw this the other day on the Internet. It speaks a million words to me. Here is a little girl, a toddler with a pacifier in her mouth. She has got a sign hanging around her neck. She says: I am already $38,375 in debt and I only own a doll house.

The problem with that is that she way understates what she is in debt for. That is just the recognized external debt. That does not count what we borrowed internally from our grandchildren. It does not count the unfunded liabilities she through her lifetime will never get any benefit from but will pay because we have stolen the benefit for us, without being good stewards of the money that has been given to us.

If you go through this and you look at it, by the time she is 40, she will be responsible for the $1,119,000 worth of debt we have accumulated for payments for Medicare, Social Security, and Medicaid that she got absolutely zero benefit from.

Then if you think about a $1 million debt for a little girl like this and what it costs, what the interest is to fund that debt, if you just said 6 percent, she has got to make $60,000 first to pay the interest on that debt before she pays any taxes, her share of the taxes, and before she has the capability to have a home and have children and have a college education, own a car. We are absolutely, with bills such as this, strangling her. We are strangling her.

I am reminded what one of our Founders said, and it is so important. I love the Senator from Maryland. She said we had plenty of money in the checkbook to do this. We do not have plenty of money in the checkbook to do this. What we have is an unlimited credit card that we keep putting into the machine and saying, we will take the money and our kids will pay later. That is what we are doing.

Thomas Jefferson said, ``I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.''

When we are seeing 12.6 and 15 percent increases in the nonmandatory side, the non-Social Security, the non-Medicare, the non-Medicaid side of the budget, we have fallen into the trap Thomas Jefferson was worried about.

I know my colleagues are sick of me talking about this. But you know what, the American people are not sick of us talking about it. They get it. They realize that we refuse to make hard choices. Every one of them is making hard choices today with their families about their future based on their income. Yet we have the gall to bring to the floor double-digit spending at a time when people, 10 percent of Americans, are out of work, seeking work, another 5 percent have given up, and we are saying, that is fine if we have a 12-percent increase. It is fine. No problem. There is plenty of money in the checking account.

There is no money in the checking account. We are perilously close to having our foreign policy dictated to us by those who own our bonds, people outside of this country. The time to start changing that is now.

I have two little amendments, and one is very instructive. The political science community is hot and bothered because I would dare to say that maybe in a time of $1.4 trillion deficits, maybe at a time when we have 10 percent unemployment, maybe at a time when we are at the worst financial condition we have ever been in our country's history, maybe we ought not spend money asking the questions why politicians give vague answers, or how we can do tele-townhall meetings and raise our numbers. Maybe we ought not to spend this money on those kinds of things right now.

You see, it is instructive because those who are getting from the Federal Government now do not care about their grandchildren. What they want is what they are getting now. Give me now; it doesn't matter what happens to the rest of the generations that follow us.

So we have the political science community all in an uproar, not because I am against the study of political science but because I think now is not the time to spend money on that. Now is the time to spend money we absolutely have to spend, on things which are absolute necessities, as every family in America is making those decisions today. We do not have the courage to do it because it offends individual interest groups that are getting money from the Federal Government for a priority that is much less than the defense of this country, protecting people, securing the future, taking care of their health care, and making sure we have law and order.

You see, Alexander Tyler warned of this as he studied why republics fail. He said, ``All republics fail.'' They fail because when people learn they can vote themselves money from the public treasury, all of the other priorities go out the window. They become totally self-focused, self-centered on what is in it for them, with no long-range vision, only parochial vision, no vision for the country as a whole, but only what is good for them. It is called self-centeredness. It is called selfishness. And we perpetuate it in this body by bringing bills to the floor that are resistant to amendments that say: Maybe this is not a priority right now.

I would bet if you polled the American public and said, we are going to run another $1.4 trillion deficit this year, we probably would not want to spend $12 million telling politicians how to stay elected. We probably would not.

The fact is, it is major universities that get this small amount of money are in debt in excess of $50 billion.

They have plenty of money to fund this if they wanted, but they don't do it because they are getting from the person who is out of work. They are getting from the person who didn't get that job because the economy is on its back, because we are borrowing $1.4 trillion and competing with the capital that is required to create a job. It is just a small amount of money. It by itself won't make any difference. But supporting this amendment will build on confidence with the American people that says, he is right, we ought to be about priorities.

We ought to be about doing what is most important first and cutting out what is least important because the times call for discipline so we don't further hamstring the generation of children to which this young lady belongs. If you take $5 or $6 million and do it once, pretty soon, if you have done it 10 times, you have $60 million. You do it another 10 times, you have $600 million. Pretty soon, we have billions of dollars we are not spending because it is low priority and we are not borrowing it against our children. All of a sudden, the value of the dollar starts to rise. Confidence around the world in the dollar starts increasing. Competition for capital by the Federal Government competing in the private sector for the capital goes down. The cost of capital goes down. Credit flows and job opportunities are created. We don't connect that because we have always done it that way. We have a budget allocation. As long as we are under that budget allocation, everything is fine.

Where is the leadership in our country today that says we are going to model a leadership that we know the American people expect of us--make hard choices, take the heat to eliminate things that are lower priority so that we can preserve the priority of this child and those of her generation? The fact is, that leadership is nonexistent. There is no reason for anyone to doubt why confidence in the Congress is at alltime lows. We are not realists. We are not listening.

The message out there, the No. 1 concern with fear isn't health care; it is economic. Am I going to have a job tomorrow? Am I going to be able to pay my bills? Will I be able to pay my mortgage? There are thousands of items in every appropriations bill just like this one, just like that amendment that we could eliminate tomorrow. It might create some small hardship but nothing compared to the hardship we are transferring to the following generation.

I have no doubt of the outcome of the votes on my amendments. I understand we are a resistant, recalcitrant body that refuses to recognize the will and direction of the American people in terms of commonsense priorities. I understand that. But what we must understand is, they are awake now, they are listening, and they are watching. It is time to respond to the desires of the American people and stop responding to the special interests of those who are getting money from the Federal Government that are low priority in terms of what really counts and really matters for our future.

I have one other amendment we will be voting on that transfers money to increase the money at the inspector general. It will not slow down the conversion of the Hoover Building at all. We have been told that. But it will help to make good government.

Part of our problem in government is about 10 percent of everything we do is pure waste, pure fraud, or pure duplication. If we are going to invest dollars in something, we ought to invest in the transparency and accountability mechanisms we have already set up.

I find myself encouraged by the attitude of the American people, yet discouraged by the attitude of my colleagues. Nobody wants to take and make the hard choices, the hard choices that say we are going to get heat if we start prioritizing. The easiest is to do nothing. The easiest is to continue to let the programs run whether they are high priority or not. That is easy. But America is having a rumble right now. The ground is shaking. The American people are paying attention. They are going to watch votes just like this one. Then we are going to be called to account as to, why won't you make priority choices, why won't you take the heat.

If there ought to be any political science study done, it is, why are Members of Congress such cowards? That is the thing we ought to study. We ought to study why we refuse to do the right thing because it puts our job at risk. We ought to be doing the right thing when it does put our job at risk and when it doesn't.

I will finish up by reminding us of what our oath is. Our oath never mentions our State. Our oath never mentions our special interest. Our oath never mentions our campaign contributors. What our oath mentions is that we are Senators of the United States--not from Oklahoma, not from Delaware, not from Maryland, not from Ohio. We are Senators of the United States; we just happen to be from those places. Our oath is to the long-term best interest of the country, never a parochial interest.

As you go through these bills, what you see are parochial interests trumping the long-term best interests of the country. That is not to demean the fine job the Senator from Maryland has done. She came in with the number that was given her. There is no question that she probably made some tough choices as she did that. But we haven't made enough. This kind of increase in this kind of bill is absurd. It is obscene. It is obscene at a time when the average family's income is declining, their ability to have the freedom to make choices, relaxed choices about what they do versus very stern choices about what is a necessity. We have not gotten the message.

I yield the floor.


Mr. COBURN. Mr. President, this is a straightforward amendment that actually increases the funding for the IG. One of our weaknesses is waste, fraud, and abuse. According to GSA, this will not affect the renovations whatsoever at the Hoover Building. We are simply transferring funds.

I understand a point of order is going to be made against this amendment. But if my colleagues want control and have accurate work done by our IGs, we need to fund them appropriately, and this amendment is intended to do that.


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