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Department Of Defense Appropriations Act, 2010

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. COBURN. I thank Senator McCain. I think America looks at us and says: Here it is, a week before Christmas, and we are debating the Defense appropriations bill, but it is interesting to note that the first appropriations bill that passed out of the Congress was the bill to fund us.

We put us first. We didn't put our troops first. We didn't put the Department of Defense first. We have had no inflation this year, and what did we do? We gave ourselves a 5.8-percent increase. The first appropriations bill to be passed and signed by the President. We put us first.

So here we find ourselves a week before Christmas debating the Defense bill, while we are in the midst of two wars, and there is an increase of only 4 percent. Yet we have all these people who say they are for Defense. We pass a bill that increases our own expenses by 5.8 percent and then we tell the Defense Department: You can't do that. You can't have what we have.

The fact is, it is easy to return 15 percent of everything you take in up here, in what you are allotted. I have done it, on average, every year I have been here. My employees are well paid. They work hard, but they are well paid. So we gave ourselves a 5.8-percent increase, but this Defense Department bill, in the middle of two wars, has a 4-percent increase.

That is not the worst of it because the average of all the increases right now is almost 11 percent on all the rest of the bills and here they are. That doesn't include any of the spending for each of these agencies--which averaged around 30 percent of their budget--that they got in the stimulus bill. Here we go: We give ourselves a 5.8-percent increase; Homeland Security, 7.2 percent; T-HUD, 23 percent; Interior, 16 percent; State and Foreign Ops, 33 percent. We did ours first to make sure we got us covered.

All of this is very ironic to me, based on the fact that out of every dollar we spend this year, 43 cents of it is borrowed. Of every dollar the Federal Government spends, 43 cents out of that dollar is borrowed. We are borrowing $4.2 billion a day. That is not every business day, that is every day of the week. There is $350 billion to $380 billion worth of waste in the Federal Government. Yet not one place in any of these bills do we eliminate duplicative services; not one place in any of these bills did we eliminate fraud; not one place in any of these bills did we cut the value of earmarks--though the number is down, only slightly, but the total dollar is up.

We made no attempt to do what every family in America is doing today; that is, to prioritize. Next year, it is going to be 45 cents of every dollar the Federal Government spends we are going to borrow. Why is that important? It is important because the people making the decisions to borrow the money are not the ones who will have to pay it back. We are going to transfer that. We are going to violate the tradition and heritage of our country because we are going to transfer a markedly lower standard of living to our children.

I met this little girl. She is from Maryland. Her name is Madelyn. If you divide the total debt by the total population--just the debt we owe now--and that is truly Enron accounting because it doesn't count the internal debt we owe or money we borrowed from Medicare, money we borrowed from Social Security, and other transfer funds--it equals $38,375. That is what it was when this picture was taken. It is well over $39,000 for every man, woman, and child, and that is just on external debt. The only thing she owns is a dollhouse.

The real tragedy is, when Madelyn is 45, everybody her age and younger will be responsible for $1.19 million worth of debt and over $70,000 worth of interest per year before they pay any other taxes, before they buy themselves a home or an automobile or before they send their kids to school. They will be $1.19 million in debt, plus combined unfunded liabilities.

This is the U.S. debt clock. It sits in the doorway of my office in the Russell Building. I had it out in the hall, but the Rules Committee would not allow people to look at that. I don't know whether they didn't want them to see it or it truly doesn't fit with protocol. Now I have a door open in my office and I have this on the live computer screen and it changes every day.

It is pretty interesting. This was as of November 21. So, November 21 to December 18, that is 27 days, we have borrowed another $100 billion since we took this picture off the Internet. We are at $12.118 trillion. Calendar year to date, the Federal Government had spent $3.285 trillion. The debt per citizen on the 21st was $39,000 and, per taxpayer, it was $110,000. Our deficit as of November 1, for the calendar year, was $1.409 trillion--all of it borrowed.

The private debt in the country is $16 trillion. That is our private debt. That is what all of us owe on our own stuff. The mortgage debt is $14 trillion.

If you look at the second screen that is outside my office, what you see is the total cost of the bailout so far--$11 trillion. We only have personal savings of $643 billion. Our savings per adult is less than $3,000. How do you take that $3,000 against the $39,000 and make any sense out of it?

The final screen shows the personal individual debt, the credit card debt, and the payment debt. It also shows our GDP. We are good as a nation. Our workers are good. We produce $91,000 worth of product per person every year. That is going to decline because of what the Federal Government is doing.

There was a guy once named Cicero and he warned of some things that were happening in one of the best known and most successful republics in the world. It happened to be Rome. Here is what he said. ``The budget should be balanced.'' I think 90 percent of America would agree with that:

The Treasury should be refilled, the public debt should be reduced, the arrogance of officialdom should be tempered and controlled, and the assistance to foreign lands should be curtailed lest Rome become bankrupt. People must again learn to work, instead of living on public assistance.

They didn't listen to Cicero, much like the Senate is not listening to the
citizens of this country and we are growing a Federal Government we cannot afford, outside the bounds of what this document, the U.S. Constitution, says is our legitimate role. If you go to it and look at article I, section 8, you see the enumerated powers and you go look at the 10th amendment and ask: How in the world is the Federal Government involved in all these things?

We have before us a bill to fund our troops and fighting two wars. Other than one other appropriations bill, we gave it the smallest increase.

By the way, in this bill is $18 billion of what we call emergency so we do not have to play inside the budget. We automatically transferred another $18 billion to Madelyn and her generation.

How do we get out of this? What do we do? We actually, in Congress, should be following the lead of the families in this country. What are families doing? Families are sitting down and making priorities. They are saying what are the things we must do? What are the things we want to do? What are the things we would like to do? Most of the ``What are the things we would like to do?'' are going out of the window for American families today. A large portion of the things families want to do is going out the window so they can maintain the things they must do. It is called making hard choices.

When you see that the Congress took care of itself before it took care of anybody else, it describes the problem in Washington. We are absolutely clueless as to what the average American is going through. We could have all the words on this Senate floor said that we want to say, but our actions speak far louder than any words we could ever say. What are our actions? Our actions are to steal the future and prosperity of our children. It is not a very noble cause.

We are here this week not because of the Defense Department bill. We are not here the week before Christmas because of this bill. We are here the week before Christmas because somebody has set an artificial deadline that we must pass a health care bill, any health care bill, so we can say we passed a health care bill. That is why we are here. When we look at health care in our country, we recognize that we have significant problems in making sure everybody has access to care. We know what the problem is on access to care because we know per capita we spend almost twice as much as anybody else in the world on health care. The problem plaguing access to care--and as a practicing physician for over 25 years--is cost.

We have some bill coming sometime that will not be available for 72 hours for everybody in the country to read, that by the time you add the 2,074 pages to the couple of hundred pages we are going to add on, nobody is going to understand exactly what they are voting on. But we are going to vote on it because we said we would. We are going to impact one-sixth of our economy and we are going to destroy the best of our health care system in the name of fixing some of the problems in our system.

We are totally disconnected with America, the America I know. There was a guy who said--I will paraphrase the statement:

Freedom is a precious thing. It is not ours by inheritance alone. It must be fought for and defended by each and every successive generation.

What is that freedom he is talking about and who was he talking to? He was talking to the American people. He wasn't talking to our troops. The freedom he was talking about was the liberty that comes when free people come together under a democratic Republic with a limited Federal Government to make the best choices they can make for themselves and their families, and the freedom to do just that. That person was Ronald Reagan.

I got an e-mail from a constituent of mine. I can't use the exact words because they are not appropriate for the Senate floor. But he kind of paraphrased that statement and then he said: Every now and then somebody comes along and pees it all away. He said: Son, don't let it be you.

Our freedom is being taken away in this country--not intentionally but unintentionally. Because as the Federal Government grows and expands, your opportunity to make choices for yourself and your family become limited. We have a health care bill that is going to spend $2.5 trillion over the next 10 years. It is going to cause premiums to rise, it is going to cause quality of care to go down, it is going to cause us to lose 1.6 million more jobs, and it is going to involve the Government between the patient and the caregiver. That bill will create 70 new government programs, 15,000 to 20,000 new Federal employees. It will create three panels that will ration care in this country directly. And it will in fact take Americans'--not just Americans on Medicare or Medicaid--Americans' freedom to make the best decision for them and their family as regard to their health care and stuff it in a box.

That is because we are going to tell you what you can have, what you can buy. We are going to totally disregard the art of medicine and we are going to practice cookbook medicine in this country.

A week ago we reversed the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommendation on breast cancer screening. We are going to have to do that hundreds of times every year under the bill that is being proposed right now because all of that is based on cost estimates. It was based on 1 out of every 1,970 women they find a breast cancer in between 40 and 50; but what people didn't say is in 1 out of 1,400 women between 50 and 60 they find a cancer. So on a cost basis they are right; on a clinical basis they are not.

The majority whip earlier today said the Republicans didn't have any ideas on health care. The fact is we do have ideas on health care. What we know from a Thomson Reuters study that came out in April of this year is that there is $700 billion in our system today that is not helping anybody get well and isn't preventing anybody from getting sick. If we want to truly cut the cost of health care, what ought to be required reading for every Senator in this body is the Thomson Reuters report. Because they can go through the fraud and abuse--19 percent of everything we spend. Unwarranted use--that includes me as a doctor doing tests I should not be doing. That includes defensive medicine, administrative inefficiencies, provider inefficiency and errors, avoidable care and lack of care coordination--duplication.

We have not attacked the disease of runaway health care costs in this country. What we have attacked is the symptoms. You do not cure people by treating their symptoms. You cure people by finding out what their disease is and curing the disease and treating the disease.

We are accused of being the party of ``no.'' I want to tell my colleagues and the American public, ``no'' is a wonderful word. When your child is misbehaving, you say ``no.'' When your adolescent child is making bad judgments, you say ``no.'' When somebody is stealing something from somebody else, i.e. liberty, you say ``no.'' When you are stealing the future, in terms of opportunity, we should say ``no.'' When you are creating a government-centric health care system rather than a patient-centric health care system, ``no'' is a great word.

We have heard all about why we do not have any ideas. We had two markups. The ideas we offered were rejected.

I see Senator Wyden on the floor. He has a wonderful health care bill. It is somewhat different than the one I introduced but it is a great bill. It does not fall into any of the traps the bill that is on the floor today falls into. It also addresses many of the problems that are outlined in the Thomson Reuters study on health care in America.

Saying ``no'' at the right time saves lives. Saying ``no'' at the right time saves money. Saying ``no'' at the proper time preserves our future. Saying ``no'' when no is the best answer is the correct, right thing to do.

We have a government we cannot afford.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. The time of the Senator has expired.

Mr. COBURN. I ask unanimous consent for 30 seconds.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

Mr. COBURN. We have a government we cannot afford. We are borrowing money to buy things we do not need. We earmarked $18 billion worth of projects this year. Some were good and some were terrible.

We eliminated no duplication in any agencies. We got rid of none of the fraud. We did nothing about efficiency, and we did nothing about creating priorities. I agree with my Democratic colleagues that health care should be a priority. When we had the leadership, we didn't do anything with it, and we should have. But mark my words, this is a turning point in America if we pass this health care bill. It is a turning point from which we will not recover.

I yield the floor.


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