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Public Statements

American Jobs And Closing Tax Loopholes Act Of 2010

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. COBURN. Madam President, I wish to take over for Senator Thune, if I may. I want to cover for a moment what Senator Gregg talked about, because we are looking for the pea under the pinochle shell.

We passed, on February 12, pay-go. On February 24, we borrowed $46 billion outside of pay-go. We said it didn't apply. On March 3, we borrowed $99 billion and said it didn't apply. On March 2, it was $10 billion and we said it didn't apply. In April, it was $18 billion.

Mr. McCAIN. Will the Senator yield for a question?

Mr. COBURN. Yes.

Mr. McCAIN. After passage of legislation that was trumpeted everywhere that from now on we were going to pay for additional spending, how could that happen?

Mr. COBURN. It happened because we waived the pay-go rules and we were outvoted. The pay-go rules are a farce.

On May 27, $59 billion. With the new bill, another $50 billion. So 46 and 18 is 64, 74, 173, 193, 262, and now 50--that is $312 billion added to the deficit this year above the $1.5 trillion we are already going to run.

We get criticized all the time--and I specifically do--as the party of no. Here is what we have offered: Reduce the national debt; this body said no. Sell unused property; this body said no. Reduce the printing costs, which is $4 billion, and we can save printing this, which nobody reads, and it is all on line; this body said no. Freeze total Federal pay for right now until we get out of the mess we are in; this body said no. Living within our means--an amendment that said we have to live within the revenues that come in--this body said no. Complying with pay-go; this body said no. Cut agency overhead costs; this body voted no. Cut Congress's own budget; this body said no. These are all recorded votes. Eliminate corporate welfare; this body said no. Stop the bridge to nowhere, that happened 4, 5 years ago but this body said no. Make Federal employees pay taxes; they owe $3 billion in unpaid taxes and we have no enforcement, but this body said no. Consolidate duplicative government programs that do the same thing. There are 70 programs to feed the hungry, 105 programs for math, education, science, and technology incentives--6 different agencies--this body said no. Eliminate bonuses for failed contractors in the private sector who don't perform, which is $8 billion a year; this body said no. Decrease nonessential government travel, which saves $5 billion a year; this body said no. Require the Department of Energy to save energy; ironically, they are the worst offender in the Federal Government in terms of wasting energy, and this body said no.

Isn't it interesting that, with 41 votes, we offer these things and every time they are rejected? They are commonsense things that everybody else in America expects us to be doing, but this body says no.

Why should we do the Thune amendment? I heard the chairman of the Finance Committee say a minute ago that having a 5-percent cut across the board in all of the agencies, except the VA and the Defense Department, would wreck the Federal Government. He obviously isn't aware that President Obama has asked his own agencies to do exactly that. All Senator Thune is doing in this amendment is what the President is asking the agencies to do. But do you know what. This body is going to say no. We bring forward a bill that only spends $50 billion of our children's money instead of $78 billion or $88 billion, which was defeated yesterday, as if that is some big deal.

This body is going to pass it. They are not going to say no to growing the government, to spending money that we don't have, to giving advantage to those who are well heeled and connected. They are not going to do that. We have lost control of what is important in America. If we were to pass the Thune amendment today, do you know what would happen? The international financial community would get the first signal from the American Congress that we are starting to make some steps toward austerity--the first signal. We don't have any out there now.

Yesterday, it was reported that the M3 money supply in this country is at the lowest level of GDP since 1932. Do you know what that predicts? It predicts that the economy is going to slow rather than increase. That predicts a double dip recession. We have tried everything Japan tried for 10 years, and it didn't work. It is a lost decade in Japan. It is stimulus money and not failing to cut the spending of the government. We are going to do that again. We are going to continue to increase the government.

People may say, why would you want to freeze total Federal wages? Well, it is easy. The average Federal employee in the United States today makes $78,000 a year. They have benefits of $40,000 a year. The average private sector employee makes $42,000 a year and has $20,000 worth of benefits. Shouldn't we, when we are running a $1.6 trillion--it is not $1.4 trillion because we have added $200 billion, and we are going to add another $50 billion with this. When we are running that kind of deficit, shouldn't we say, time out, no increases, except for stellar performance, in the Federal Government, until we get our house in order? But this body is going to say no again. They are going to say no.

The question is, what can we do to fix our economy? Borrowing money that we don't have to spend on things that we don't absolutely need is not the answer to solving the problems with our economy. The answer is for us to live within our means, create a stable environment where business will invest and can plan on what is coming next from Congress. We have them so skittish that they won't spend. That is the reason we are going to have a double dip recession. That is the reason the money supply has shrunk in spite of zero percent interest rates at the Federal Reserve--because people will not take a risk, because we are not leading with something that gives them confidence about the future. We have to change that.

I will end with this. That is the party of yes. Increase the national debt, yes. Violate pay-go, yes. More corporate welfare, yes. Increase the debt limit, yes. Fund the bridge to nowhere and every other earmark like it, yes. Increase Congress's own budget at a time when we should be austere, yes. Tax breaks for special interests, yes. Borrow billions--not billions, but trillions--from our grandchildren, yes. Create duplicative government programs, yes. Finally, create a lower standard of living for us, our children, and our grandchildren.

That is not what we are about, except that is what the Baucus bill does. It thinks in the short term and ignores the long term. It ignores the reality that this government has to get smaller for us to not become Greece. It plays the games that are typical of Washington, which the American people are rejecting.

One final word about doctors, having been one and practiced for over 25 years. What is happening out there right now? What is happening out there now is the same kind of confusion that is happening in the business community. Doctors are saying: I can no longer take a Medicare patient. You are going to give me an extension for 6 months, but there is no guarantee that in 5 or 6 months I am going to have the revenue I need to keep an office open to care for Medicare patients. So what is happening? Medicare patients all across this country are going and finding out their doctors no longer take Medicare.

We saw, earlier this week, when HHS released the first of the thousands of regulations that between 87 million and 127 million Americans aren't going to get to keep the insurance they have. They are not going to under the grandfather clause. So what we are doing is sending every mixed signal possible to not create stable planning, positive input, and positive attitudes about what can happen positively in this country. We have to send a signal to the doctors. The Thune amendment pays for a doctor fix until 2012. It gives them a chance to say, yes, I will stay in Medicare; I can afford to stay in Medicare. If we don't do that, we are going to have hundreds of thousands of Medicare patients who no longer have the doctor they have had for years. It is not because the doctor wants to turn away the patient, but because the doctor has to turn away the patient because they can no longer afford to care for Medicare patients.

So we play this game and bring to the floor a bill with $50 billion that we are going to charge to our grandchildren, and we have bought the votes off so we can pass it, and we are still doing the same thing. We are still expanding the Federal Government, we are borrowing against our future, we are lowering the standards of living of our children, and we are creating a mockery of the American dream.

I reserve the remainder of our time.


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