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Mr. COBURN. Mr. President, this is an amendment that will actually pay for everything we are doing. It does several things that the American people are demanding that we do.
It discloses the true cost of borrowing and spending that we actually do in this body.
It reduces the budgets of the Members of Congress. We had a 4.8-percent increase in our budgets. This is going to decrease that by less than a third, making us suffer with the rest of the country in terms of trying to get control of our massive debt and deficit spending.
It enacts what President Obama has been asking his own agencies to do: it takes 5 percent from all the agencies, except Defense and Veterans Affairs, and says: Cut that amount. The size of the agencies has doubled since 1999. We are asking the agencies to find 5 percent of efficiency within their agency to help us not continue to add trillions of dollars of debt to our children.
It eliminates nonessential government travel. It will save us $10 billion over 10 years. It doesn't eliminate essential; it just says that when you can do a teleconference, you do that. You don't necessarily fly and take a hotel room when you can accomplish it another way.
It reduces unnecessary printing and publishing costs of government documents. That saves us $4 billion over 10 years. Nobody reads these. They are all available online. If we get rid of the ones that don't have to be printed, we save hundreds of thousands of trees every year--which absorb CO2, by the way--but it also saves us $4.4 billion by not printing stuff we all have on our computers already.
In working with the OMB, they are behind what we are trying to do in terms of unused and unneeded government property and government buildings. So what it does is it gives us $15 billion in direct savings in revenue by getting rid of things that we are spending $8 billion a year on maintaining that we are not using. So we save $15 billion over 10 years, plus we get the savings of not having to maintain what we own but are not using.
We will sell unused and unneeded equipment. We have $ 1/4 billion worth just sitting there in warehouses. We are never going to use it, but it is sitting there. We can get good prices from the private sector that can go out and utilize this and put it to work.
It caps the total number of Federal employees. Why is that important? I am a supporter of our Federal employees. We had a speech on the floor today accusing those of us who want to limit the growth of the Federal Government in terms of employees and the size, saying we were against our Federal employees. We are not. What we are saying is that in a time when we are running a $1.6 trillion deficit--that is what it will be this year; we said 1.4, but we have already borrowed $200 billion more than that on this floor since February 12--we ought to be getting more productivity out of what we have, not because it is not the right thing to do--it is the right thing--but because we cannot afford to be lax in anything we are doing today. Every time we don't save a dollar, we are now charging that dollar to our children and grandchildren.
It puts a cap on the total number of Federal employees. There is plenty of flexibility within the Federal Government. The Federal Government has added 160,000 employees in the last 16 months. There are 441,000 for the census, but that doesn't count them. This is 160,000 full-time Federal employees in the last 16 months. How many more employees do we need? Can we afford more Federal employees at this time or should we get more with what we have?
We also put a temporary 1-year freeze on total salary. That doesn't mean people who work for the Federal Government cannot get a raise. They can. But they need to be more productive and recognized for it. But there should be no more automatic pay increases this next year because we are running a $1.6 trillion deficit and also because the average Federal employee makes $78,000 a year and has benefits worth $40,000. The average private sector employee makes $42,000 a year and has benefits worth $20,000. Freezing that for 1 year will have a minimal long-term effect, especially when we saw today that we are actually in a deflationary period where the Consumer Price Index went down one-tenth of 1 percent. We had a nine-tenths of 1 percent decrease this year. So the cost of living is not going up; it is going down. All we are saying is, let's do this for 1 year and demonstrate that we understand the tough choices the public is making and that we are willing to make tough choices.
I agree, it is a tough choice. It is hard. But it does not mean that stellar employees cannot get raises. They can. That saves $2.6 billion this year, for 1 year.
It collects unpaid taxes from employees of the Federal Government. We have employees of the Federal Government who owe $3 billion. It directs a garnishee of those payments from the Federal employees. These are not disputed. These are not still under negotiation. These are things that have already been agreed to that are owed by Federal employees to the Federal Government. That gets us $3 billion that we do not have.
We also have a section that excessive duplication and overhead within the Federal Government should be eliminated. Two easy examples: Across 60
different agencies, we have 70 different programs to feed people who are hungry. Why do we have 70? Why don't we have 7 or one? Not one of those 70 programs has a metric on it to see if it is effective in what it does.
We have 105 programs across seven different agencies that incentivize at the cost of billions of dollars a year people to go into math, science, engineering, and technology. Why do we have 105 programs? Why not one run by one set of overhead and one agency and measure the results? There are 640 other examples of duplication just like that in the Federal Government.
What this amendment says is we ought to be about eliminating that duplication. We ought to be able to increase productivity and also increase the results of the very programs for the people we are trying to help.
The other thing we do is we eliminate bonuses for contractors to the Federal Government who are not meeting performance requirements. That is $800 million a year that your government is paying out to people who do work for the Federal Government who do not meet the minimum requirements for their contract, and yet we are paying them $800 million in bonuses as if they were meeting the requirements of their contract. That saves $8 billion over 10 years. None of us would do that with anybody who worked for us. Why do we allow the Federal Government to do that?
This government gives the United Nations 25 percent of its entire budget. But we also give voluntary payments to the United Nations. I just talked with Peter Orszag from OMB, and I am getting that report as we speak. It was due January 1. It is now mid to late June.
What we do is eliminate no more than $1 billion more than what our obligations are in terms of peacekeeping or our dues to the United Nations. There are good reasons to do that. There was, with the last foreign appropriations, a requirement that the United Nations show us where our money is going. That got thrown out in conference. But we do not even know where the $6 billion a year that we give to the United Nations is spent because they will not show us where it is spent. We would never tolerate that from any agency we fund. And yet we don't. We are saying do not give more than a billion more than that to the United Nations. We limit that. That is a $10 billion a year savings.
Here is what we do know about the United Nations. In the peacekeeping money that we give, 45 percent of it is lost to fraud. Think about that. Forty-five percent of the $3 billion that we give to peacekeeping operations is lost to fraud, documented. We found that one out by accident. They did not want us to find that out.
We ought to be good stewards with the money of the American people when it comes to contributing their money to the United Nations.
Returning excessive funds from an unnecessary, unneeded, unrequested, duplicative reserve fund that will never be spent: That is $362 million. It is a one-time savings. It will never be spent. It is sitting there. We ought to take it back.
Rescinding unspent Federal funds: There is $1.7 trillion sitting in accounts right now. Of that, $690 billion has not been obligated for the future expenditure. We are saying move $50 billion of that back into this year and use it to pay for things that are important, such as unemployment insurance, rather than borrow from our children.
Why is that important? If you have three bank accounts and each one had $100 in it and you had to write a $200 check, you would go to the accounts you had and write the check from the two accounts so you could pay the check. This money is rolling out there to the tune of $600 billion every year that is not obligated.
Common sense would say we would be more efficient with our money rather than paying interest on that money. We would use it in a more timely fashion. Everybody does that except the Federal Government. We ought to be doing it as well.
Reducing wasteful costs at the Department of Energy. The Department of Energy is supposed to be setting the example for this country on energy efficiency. They are the worst agency as far as energy costs and efficiency in energy. All we are doing is you follow the rules you have set for everybody else. It saves $13.8 million per year. That is just one agency following the rules they have told every other agency to follow.
Finally, we strike the new taxes that are in this bill because we do not need to pay for them because we can cut spending somewhere else. The last thing we need to be doing, as we have the threat of a double-dip recession, is taking more private capital out of the economy and putting it into government because the multiplier effect of government spending is very low. Private spending multiplier effect is about 1.5. That means for every dollar you spend, you end up generating about $1.5 in economic activity. For every government dollar that is spent, you generate $1.1 in economic activity. The last thing we ought to be doing is raising taxes. I don't care where it is in this economy. It is so precarious that we need private capital being invested to create jobs and opportunities for jobs in this country.
I have listed the vast majority of provisions that are in the bill. I will be back to discuss each one individually.
I thank the Chair, and I yield the floor.
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Mr. COBURN. Madam President, I offered a rather lengthy amendment to this bill, not because I was trying to be cute, but I think the American people have got to hear from us on whether we are going to make some of the commonsense changes they would expect us to make.
There are a lot of easy votes in this amendment. I mean, to not pay contractors when they do not deserve to be paid, whether to continue to do it, we did it to the tune of $6 billion at the Pentagon in the last 6 years. That is not hard.
To quit printing and wasting money on printing things we should not be printing, that is not hard. But the debate is.
It is just as important as taking care of those people who are unemployed. If we don't cycle through to a good recovery, we are going to have less opportunity to borrow money to help those people who are unemployed. We now stand at a crossroads we have never been at before. Our gross debt is in excess of $17 trillion. Our net debt is at $13.2 trillion. The difference between that is the money the Congress has stolen from Social Security and myriad other trust funds that are much smaller. But we have borrowed it and put a piece of paper in that says: We will pay you back.
The fact is, we have to pay interest. It is compounded. We will eventually have to pay it back. Only in Washington would we talk about net debt when, in fact, we are paying interest on the gross debt.
We had testimony before the debt commission 2 weeks ago by Dr. Reinhart, one of the leading economists in the country, who said we are in excess of 90 percent of our GDP, our debt. What did they tell us? We are struggling with a recession. We are trying to come out of a recession. They told us with that much debt, it is suppressing the growth of our economy by 1 percent a year. One percent a year is $170 billion in productivity and economic activity that didn't happen. If we calculate that in terms of jobs, that is about 3 million jobs that are not going to be created next year because Congresses before us and this one as well have refused to live within their means.
We have, in terms of Washington, a relatively small bill now, $100 billion plus. It was pulled from the floor to make it smaller--not to pay for a significant amount more, just to make it smaller--when, in fact, what the American people want us to do is find something within the Federal Government that doesn't make sense, don't borrow it from our children, do the hard work of finding what is not working here.
We are going to have a cloture vote on this legislation. My hope is, unless we change this bill, that this bill does not proceed until we accede to the demands of the American public. It is simple: Congress, start living like we are living. Start making the hard choices. When you have a limited budget, do what is most important first. Do what is least important last. Get rid of waste, get rid of things that should have been gotten rid of a long time ago and do what is best for the future.
We are not doing that with this bill, and we can't get anybody to debate on the other side. They will not defend it. You cannot defend borrowing $50 billion more against our children and grandchildren when we have $300 billion of waste, fraud, abuse, and duplication in the government right now that we have rejected every time when those amendments come to the floor. You can't do it.
So we play the political game in Washington. We had it in February, when our colleagues passed pay-go. It is really to pay-go or not to pay-go. What pay-go means is, you American taxpayers, you pay, and we will go spend your money.
The statute said we would no longer spend new money on anything unless we paid for it. Since February 12 when this bill was signed into law, on February 24 we borrowed $46 billion. We waived pay-go. We said the rule doesn't apply now. This is more important. It was the highway trust fund. Rather than cut some of the waste, fraud, and abuse, rather than cut out some of the things that are duplications, we borrowed that from our grandchildren. We did it twice in March, $99 billion out of the Senate and $10 billion. One was for an extension; one was for the overall tax extenders. We didn't quit there. April came, $18 billion more. May came, May 20, we did $20 billion more. Pay-go didn't apply. We waived it. We said it doesn't count. The rule doesn't count.
What good is it to have a rule or a statute that says we are not going to steal from our children anymore, and every time something comes up we steal from our children? It is a farce. It is meaningless. That is why we didn't vote for it, because it was just a charade to tell the American people somebody was doing something they actually weren't.
The proof is in the pudding. Then we borrowed $59 billion on May 27. Now we have a bill out here on June 17 that is going to borrow another $50 billion. How valuable are the lives of our children that we would steal opportunity? That sounds like a fallacious claim. It is not.
I want you to meet Madeline. Madeline is a little girl. I saw this on the Internet. I actually got to meet her. Her sign actually said $37,000 6 months ago. In the last 6 months, she has gone from owing $37,000, every individual, man, woman and child in this country, to owing $42,000. What is her life worth? What is the opportunity for her worth? Are children just a toy, or do we owe it to them, based on what has been given to us, to create opportunity and a chance for a better life for the Madelines of this country?
The problem is, as we are set up right now, 9 years from now, that number is going to be $187,000 per man, woman, and child. In 25 years, if we don't change what we are doing--and we will change because the world financial community will quit loaning us money--it will be over $1 million.
Put your calculator on for a minute and calculate 6 percent of 1 million. That is the interest cost for what we will have spent in money that we didn't have per person in this country. That is $60,000 25 years from now that every one of us who is still alive will be paying each year just in additional interest before we do anything with the Federal Government.
This government is so far out of control. It is not President Obama's fault, it is the Congress's fault. Presidents can't do things without us. We allow it or don't allow it. We have been rebellious against the principles and values that made this country great. There has never been a country that has achieved--economically, culturally, and scientifically--anything close to what we have created. Congresses are destroying it. This bill is another drop that will eventually turn the statute over that says the future is not here.
This isn't a partisan debate, this is a generational debate. We are thieving. Generational theft is what we are about because we lack the courage to confront the real problems we have and embrace, though it may cost us politically, doing the right things to ensure an American dream for the Madelines of this world. We are failing to do that. What an abandonment of our oath, what a rejection of what was given to us. Yet we have the gall to come out here week after week and spend money we don't have on some things that are necessary, some that are not, but that allow us to continue to spend billions of dollars on things that we should not be spending it on because, basically, we lack courage. It is cowardice.
I am committed not just to Madeline. This doesn't have anything to do with the Republican or Democratic Party. It has to do with the survival of our country as we know it.
Yet we continuously hear: No, we can't. We can't do this. We can't do this. We can't get rid of the easy things to get rid of because somebody well heeled or somebody well connected somewhere doesn't want us to. So who runs the country? Do the people of this country control us or is it the well heeled or the well connected or those who will be advantaged by us continuing to waste money?
Is it a fact that we spent $6 billion over the last 5 years paying performance bonuses to companies that contract with the Federal Government on performance they didn't earn, and we will not pass a law in a bill that says they can't do that anymore? Who is getting that money? Whose palms are we greasing? The fact is, we will not vote that out of here and say it isn't going to happen anymore. You are either going to perform under your contract or you are going to lose the contract, and we are not going to give you bonuses for not performing. Yet three times the Senate has voted that down.
Who benefits? It certainly isn't the average American. It is some corporate client somewhere who has too good of a sweetheart deal contracting with the Federal Government and has allies within the Congress who say: We will protect you on the basis of having helped them in a campaign before. Do we want a future or do we want well-heeled buddies for the short term when it all collapses around us?
What we are is addicted to bad behavior. We are addicted to spending money that we don't have on things we don't need. We are addicted to not confronting the very real problems in the government. Again, it is not President Obama or President Bush's fault. Congress has that responsibility. We reject our responsibility. We have abandoned our responsibility and, with that, our integrity by not doing what we should do.
As a physician, I know what addictive behaviors are all about. What do we need to do? One of the things President Obama wants us to do that we refuse to do is to end no-bid contracts. Let's end the sweetheart deals. Let's get rid of the no-bid contracts that the well connected, well heeled get to have at a higher price than what we would pay if we competitively bid it. Why don't we do that? That has been voted down by this body as well twice; we can't do that; we have to protect our friends; we are more interested in protecting our friends than we are in saving the country. Eliminate bonuses to contractors, I talked about that. Determine the total number, cost, and purpose of every Federal program. The Government Accountability Office can't give us that number. It is too big. The Congressional Research Service can't tell us all the government programs, what their cost and what their purpose is.
We did get through, late last year, an amendment that is going to force the Government Accountability Office to tell us. Do you know how long it will take them to tell us? Three years. That is how big the problem is. With all their resources, it is still going to take them 3 years to tell us all the government programs.
What do we know that I found out and my staff has found out in researching this over the last 5 1/2 years? We have identified at least 640 different areas where there are more than five programs that have the same goal run by different agencies in the Federal Government.
We know, for example, right now some American people are struggling and a lot of people are actually having trouble getting enough food. So we have to guess how many programs to help feed those people who are needing food? Across six different Departments, we have 70 government programs. Not one of them has a metric on it to say: Are you effective? How do you measure your effectiveness? But we have 70 sets of overhead in the Federal Government to do exactly the same thing.
You may say, How in the world did that happen? I will tell you how it happens. Some constituent comes up here and says: Here is a problem. Oh, yes, it is a problem. We do not research it to see what the Federal Government is already doing, so we author a bill. Because nobody wants to keep food away from the hungry, we pass a bill, not knowing that we already have 69 other programs. That happens time after time after time, still today, because we do not know what we have.
In math, engineering, science, and technology, which is where we would like for lots of our young people to go, we have documented 105 different programs that are funded by the Federal Government to incentivize our young people to go into those areas in eight different government agencies, eight different government Departments. Not the Department of Education--some of them are in there--but in every area. Why? Yet we do not want to do the hard work of eliminating those.
Let's identify the 105, and let's cut it to one. Let's put metrics on it. Let's have just one set of overhead. Let's accomplish that.
We have added 160,000 Federal employees in the last 16 months. Every business I know out there is doing more with less. That is not a denigration to our Federal employees. It is embracing reality that we cannot continue to add Federal employees. We cannot afford the government we have. Forty-three cents out of every dollar the Federal Government spends today is borrowed from China or Russia or countries with sovereign bank accounts, many of which would like to see us end. Can we continue to do that? Can we continue to have 40 percent of everything we are spending borrowed?
What we do know is, necessity becomes the mother of invention, and if we put the clamps and the brakes on both the growth and the size and the total amount the government spends, we will get more for the same amount--but not until we try, not until we mandate it has to happen.
Limit the overhead costs of the Federal programs. The overhead and the layers of duplication are unbelievable. A tremendous amount of savings can be done. I just visited with a three-star general who is working inside the Pentagon. One of the areas where I want to see us eliminate $50 billion a year in spending is inside the Pentagon because they have that much waste. They are going through a process now to look at where they have redundancy. Do you know what. They are finding it everywhere. But the Pentagon is so big, unless you look for it you are never going to see it.
So we now have the military starting to do what they finally need to do. They have never done it before--starting to look at redundancy, starting to look at good management, best practices, to create efficiencies so more dollars can defend us and less dollars will be spent on overhead. We need to do that government-wide, but especially in the Pentagon because it is our greatest discretionary cost with the exception of interest.
Disclose the cost, purpose, and text of legislation that is considered by Congress. There should not be a bill that comes before Congress that we do not adequately and accurately know what it is designed to do. Have a measurement on it so we know it did what we designed it to do, know what it is going to cost, and then force ourselves to evaluate it.
This is the 111th Congress. In the 109th Congress, I held 47 oversight hearings. That was more oversight hearings than the entire rest of the Senate combined. You see, we do not want to do the oversight because it is hard work and you do not get great press clippings. It does not help your campaign, your political career. But we were not sent up here for a political career. We were sent here to do the best, right thing for the country as a whole.
Most of the problems we are seeing are parochial in nature, where we have concentrated on what is best for our State at the expense of what is best for our country. I would posit that my State, Oklahoma, and the Presiding Officer's State cannot be healthy if the country is not healthy. They cannot be. Yet when our focus becomes more parochial than national, we actually undermine our future as a country.
No. 8, require the Congress to justify the creation of new government programs that duplicate existing ones. I am notorious for not letting bills get to the floor because they duplicate something that has already been done. We have created a new program, but we did not eliminate the old one, so now we have both of them running. I usually get beat. I usually get rolled with 60 votes and we create the new program. But we never eliminated the one that was not working, and we never changed the one that was not working. So we just create another program.
Mandate that Congress has to do oversight--has to do it. It must do oversight. We can do that by changing our rules. But we do not have any interest in changing our rules. It is easier to coast and not do the hard job of oversight.
I will just finish up.
One of the things I have thought about--I am not sure it will be helpful, but right now in the trouble we are in, everybody who walks through this Capitol ought to be informed of how much debt we owe and what it is per person. We ought to have that. It is in my office. If you walk by--the Rules Committee will not let me put it in the hall; they say it does not look professional--I have a computer screen where, if you walk by my office, you can see the national debt clock ticking. Your eyes will roll as fast as it is coming up. Remember, we are borrowing about $4 million a second. That is how fast it is going up.
So, anyhow, there are a lot of things we can do to stop the addiction.
I see the Senator from Georgia.
I ask the Senator, did you want to have some time? I will be happy to yield to you if you would yield back to me.
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Mr. COBURN. Madam President, I thank the Senator from Georgia. It does not matter if you are a Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative or Independent, what your faith is, what your sexual orientation is: Out of many one. But if we are not careful, that one is going to fall based on what we do, and the debt affects a liberal as much as it affects a conservative. It steals opportunity from liberal children as much as it does conservative children. We have to come to a point where we say: Enough is enough.
I was just thinking, as the Senator talked, the $50 billion we are going to borrow from our kids with this bill, it would run the government of the entire State of Oklahoma for 8 years--every branch, every employee, pay all the costs, build all the highways, do everything we do for 8 years, just on what we are going to borrow.
When you start putting it down into, how much is $50 billion?--we throw away billions like they were pennies here.
And how many years for a trillion seconds?
Mr. ISAKSON. That is 31,709 years.
Mr. COBURN. That is 31,709 years.
So we are going to have a $1.6 trillion deficit this year. Well, that is 50,000 years of seconds. Just this year, it is 50,000 years of seconds.
Let me go into the amendment a little bit and talk about it. The first section of this amendment would require public disclosure of the amount of any new borrowing or spending approved by the Senate. In other words, it is about transparency. It is about letting the American people hold us accountable. It means that on the Senate Web site, after we make new spending decisions and borrowing decisions, we have to publicize it so the American people can see it, rather than hide behind it. It is simple. There is no score for it on savings. I guarantee it will save money, because if we know the American people are going to know what the financial consequences are of what we do with every vote, it is going to change some votes around here.
The other question we ought to be asking is why shouldn't they know what we are doing and the ramifications of it. It is pretty simple. It is pretty straightforward. I have told the Rules Committee that I would pay out of my personal office budget the cost of that program. In other words, I would turn back over $500,000 every year. I will pay for it out of my budget and make sure that is available, so there is no cost to it whatsoever. I will pay for it out of my budget, out of my office, so it doesn't cost us anything. But it gives the transparency the President and I worked on in this body, and he wants to see from this body, and it makes it available to the American people. So we are going to get a vote on that.
It is important to know that with this bill, if it passes, we will have borrowed 59 plus 20, that is 79; 89, 97, 143, 513, 252, plus 50--$302 billion since February 14, outside of the budget. That is outside of the budget. Now, $300 billion will run Oklahoma for 40 years. We could run the whole State of Oklahoma for 40 years on what we have spent in 6 months. So why shouldn't we let the American people see what we are doing, since it is going to cost nothing, and it is transparency, so they can hold us accountable? Why should we not do that?
The second thing that is important is in the last year, we have markedly increased--not counting the stimulus bill--the discretionary spending of the Federal Government. We didn't leave ourselves out on that. Inflation was nothing, but we increased our own budget by 4.8 percent. So the other component of one of these amendments is that 4.8 percent, I say we give $100 million of it back, which would be a third of that. That means we still get three times what the rest of the country got in terms of an increase, but it shows at least we are willing to let--and if anybody ran their office with any appropriateness, they would have a surplus as well every year. So it is not a hard cut, but it is important, since we gave ourselves a budget increase, that we demonstrate to the American people we are serious about doing it. Vote against it and say you don't think so or vote for it and let's put it in this bill. Let's start showing the American people we get it. We will do the right, best thing for the country in the long term.
I have occasional conversations with the President, and one of the things he has told his administration to do, and we heard it flatly rejected--not just rejected but flatly rejected on the basis of a lack of knowledge by the chairman of the Finance Committee. He has told every agency to find 5 percent in cuts. Those are the instructions he has sent out to the head of every agency. Why has he done that? Because he knows we have to. This portion of the amendment says that is exactly what we are going to do. We are going to cut 5 percent of the discretionary spending of every branch of government save Defense and Veterans. Some would say, Well, that is \1/20\th of the budget. Yes, it is. But when you look at it in light of the size of the agencies today, in the last 10 years they are twice as big as they were 10 years ago. They have grown by an average of 10 percent per year and we can't find 5 percent or one-fifth of the growth they have had over the last 10 years that can be done more efficiently or as a lower priority or not as important? We can't find that? Yet, as the Senator from Georgia said, almost every family in this country is having to do that. We refuse to mandate that the Federal Government get on a diet, do things more efficiently, more effectively; take another look to see if it can be done a different way. It is called productivity increases. We can get that.
We won't ever get it if we don't ask for it. It is not a hard concept. We can do that. We allow the agencies to make those recommendations, and that is one of the things President Obama has already asked all of his agencies to do, to go find that 5 percent. That sends a wonderful signal to the American people that we get it.
It does something else that is important, and so will the defeat of this bill, and if we pass it with it being paid for. Right now in this country the value of our dollar is pretty good. The reason it is good is because people are worried about Japan and the value of the yen, and they are significantly worried about the Euro because of what is happening to Greece and now what is getting ready to happen to Spain. So money is rushing in. Smart money around the world in these other economies is rushing to hide in dollars. In about 2 years from now, that money is going to be sucked back out of here, because those economies will have made the hard choices of austerity with which to restabilize the Euro or their currencies. They will have done it.
What we need to send to the international finance market is a signal that says we too are way overextended and we are going to start making the appropriate choices to secure our financial future.
It was 2 months ago that Moody's put a notice out that said if things don't happen and start to change with U.S. Government bonds, they are going to be downgraded from AAA to AA. That is a big downgrade. We have never had an AA rating. So all of a sudden, the world rating system is going to say that maybe an investment in our product, our dollars, is not what it should be.
We need to make sure that doesn't happen. We need to make sure we have sent a signal to the world. When we start doing things where we are paying for new things by cutting lower priority items, we send that signal. We build that confidence back. When we start paying for new bills and the extensions of benefits, we extend that back up.
We are going to hear--actually, we won't hear, because we won't hear anybody come out and debate against these things. What they will choose to do is to ignore them and then vote against them. So the American people won't hear a legitimate debate on why we shouldn't cut 5 percent across the board, letting them decide what areas are most important and recommending them to us; we won't have a debate. We won't debate, and then we will kill it, thinking it will go away. Well, the American people have gotten that already. That is not acceptable to the American people. If you think we shouldn't cut spending in the Federal Government, come out here and defend it. Come out here and give us a philosophical, logical reason why we ought to continue to steal from our children and grandchildren. We won't see that. We won't see a strong debate against each of the points I am going to make associated with this amendment. The real question ought to be: Why? Because it is indefensible to vote against it. That is why. You cannot see the waste, fraud, abuse, and duplication in this government and not say we can do better.
Section 4 of the amendment eliminates nonessential government travel. Do my colleagues realize that almost every government office now has audio-visual equipment for the ability to carry on a teleconference anywhere in this country and overseas? Yet, last year, we spent--no, 2 years ago we spent--the data is behind--we spent $13.8 billion on airline tickets and hotels for Federal Government employees of which over half was nonessential. In 2006, $3.3 billion was spent on airfare. In 2007, $3.5 billion was spent on airfare. In 2008, $4 billion was spent on airfare. We can't get the numbers for 2009 yet. Hotel rooms, $2.3 billion, up to $2.5 billion. Car rentals, from $423 million to $437 million. Most of this can be done by teleconferencing. Why wouldn't we say at a time when we are borrowing $1.6 trillion from our kids that maybe we ought to teleconference rather than get on an airplane? I can tell you it is a whole lot easier than traveling 1,600 miles twice a week. So what does this do? It saves us money.
One of my favorite ways of saving money is to cap the printing costs in the Federal Government. We have examples of it right here. Every day, we put a Calendar of Business out, we put an Executive Calendar out, and we publish the Congressional Record, and we print hundreds of thousands of copies. You know what. It is all on line. We can save $4 billion over the next 10 years by printing limited amounts of things we need and not printing some things everybody else has access to on a computer. Why would we not do that? Why would we not cap our printing costs? Think of the thousands of acres of trees we can save every year. What we know is every year, Federal employees, through our direction, spend $1.3 billion on printing. The analysis by GAO says $440 million of that is unnecessary. So over 10 years, that is $4.4 billion. That is $4.4 billion that we won't take from Madeline. Madeline and her other 3- and 4-year-olds won't have to pay it back. Remember, they won't be paying $4.4 billion back; they will be paying the compounded interest that will double that debt in 10, 12 years. In 20 years, it will triple it. In 30, it will quadruple it. So they won't be paying $4.4 billion back, they will be paying $20 billion back. Why would we not do that? Why would we not make this decision to do that? It has been rejected by this body in the past.
Before the Bush administration left, I was working with them on unused Federal real property. We have billions, if not hundreds of billions, in underutilized Federal property owned by the taxpayers.
We spend $8 billion a year maintaining buildings we are not using. Think about that. We are spending $8 billion a year maintaining buildings we are not using. But we can't sell them because there is a little bill called the McKinney-Vento Act that says every used building in the Federal Government has to be offered as a homeless shelter first--even if it is an airplane hangar on a closed military base.
We created a bureaucracy nightmare that doesn't allow us to do that. Consequently, we could take a tenth of the $8 billion we are spending and appropriate that directly to the homeless and save $7.2 billion a year. But this body has rejected that as well. They voted it down. They didn't give a reason, they just voted it down. We have 46,745 underutilized properties, 18,849 properties we are not using at all, and a total of 65,000 properties we are not utilizing with an estimated value of $83 billion. That's $83 billion of property you are paying the maintenance on that we are not using, that we could sell and pay for almost all of this bill. But we won't do it.
Of course, we don't buy many properties anymore. The reason for that is because of the way our budget scoring is, even though it would be smarter to buy it because the total cost of the building is charged to the agency in the year in which the building is completed. None of the agencies are buying buildings anymore, they are renting them. We should not be renting the first building. We should be getting rid of the $85 billion worth of buildings we don't need and buying a building, because you can own a building a lot cheaper than renting one--maybe not last year, but commercial rates are coming back up. Yet we don't do it.
Since 2005, out of this $85 billion, because of the bureaucratic nightmare of steps you have to go through, we have only sold $2.5 billion worth of an $85 billion portfolio. None of you would do that with your own property. If you had property out there that you owned, and you were spending 10 percent of the value of that property every year maintaining it, and you weren't utilizing it, and you had an opportunity to sell it, you would sell it. Not the Federal Government. We ought to be asking why. Who took a stupid pill to say not to do that?
Some of the properties are not of any value, so we ought to demolish them, because it costs less to do that than to maintain them. I will give you a rundown on some of them. On the buildings we now have, which we are utilizing, we have a maintenance backlog of $35.5 billion. We are spending money on buildings we don't want, maintaining them, but we can't take care of the buildings we have because we don't have enough money because we are spending it on buildings we don't use.
Section 7 provides that the Department of Defense would auction new, unused, or excellent condition excess inventory to the highest bidder, rather than transferring it at no cost to State agencies and others. You buy tons of stuff every year through the Defense Department that they don't need. As a matter of fact, they don't even know what they have. It is sitting in warehouses around the country. And what do we do when we figure out we don't need it? We give it away. When we are $13.2 trillion in debt, it is time to stop giving it away. It is time to get some value for the American taxpayers who paid retail price for that and turn around and sell it. It has been voted on before and rejected.
I mentioned in my opening words about capping the total number of Federal employees this year. That is called a hiring freeze. But it is not a hiring freeze because if you have retirements, you can replace them. We added 160,000 Federal employees in the last 16 months. We have only have an increase in net new jobs of about 450,000. Almost 50 percent of the net new jobs have been Federal jobs--at a time when our deficit is going to be one of the highest on record.
I say time out. I say do it with whom you have. If you have retirements, or people who leave, replace them, but don't increase the numbers anymore. Those numbers don't include the census of 441,000 temporary workers we have hired and will go away. How else are we going to get our budget under control if we don't do it in terms of personnel?
The other thing is, if you look at the process over the last few years on Federal employees--and I will say it again--I will discuss the fact that those of us who think we are in a crisis moment in our country and feel we ought to be making tough choices would say we ought to freeze total salary costs. That is not a salary freeze per individual. That is just saying that in this department, this agency, here is how much you are going to spend on salaries, and we are not going to go up this year. We are not going to raise the total amount we spend on salaries this year. That still allows every manager great flexibility. You can promote and give raises to people who are performing. But you can't increase the total amount of money.
Why is that important? There is an article in today's paper that OPM is starting to look at it. We looked at it, and here is what we know: In 1999, the average Federal salary was $49,536. It is now $78,806. Inflation during that period of time averaged 2.4 percent. Salary increases during that period of time averaged 4 percent--1 1/2 times the rate of private pay increases in this country.
What happened to benefits? Average personnel benefit per Federal employee is nearing $40,000 per year. Depending on how much you make, that may seem like a lot, or not, but when you look at the average private sector pay, it is $42,000. It is $36,000 less than the average Federal employee is paid. I don't want Federal employees to get a cut. I just don't think we ought to increase them at a time when most people aren't getting pay increases. I don't think we ought to increase Federal pay.
The benefit differential is even more stark. The average for benefits for the average person in this country, who doesn't work for the Federal Government, is $20,000 per year. So we have almost twice as rich a benefit, or 1 1/2 to 2 times as rich a benefit for Federal employees as everybody else in the country who is employed. I am not saying cut them. I am saying for 1 year let's not let it increase. Let's do right by the American people, who are struggling, and let's do right by the grandchildren and young children in our country by putting some common sense into what is allowable, given that we are in a time of crisis. We voted on that before. It failed.
Federal employees also have, unpaid to the Federal Government, $3 billion in back taxes, and that is not under dispute. Federal employees, who average $78,000 a year, owe the Federal Government $3 billion. I say they ought to be paying that. I say it ought to be coming out of their wages. It is time to not allow that as a condition of your employment anymore. It seems unconscionable to me that you cannot pay your taxes, when you make $78,000 a year, and we are not going to force you to pay them. So it is a $3 billion savings, but it is an important signal to send to people: We are all paying taxes, and you ought to, too, since you make 1 1/2 times what the average person in this country makes.
We talked earlier about section 11. It eliminates the awarding of bonuses to government contractors when they have unsatisfactory performance. That is a no-brainer. Nobody in the private sector is going to give a bonus to somebody who isn't performing. But the Federal Government does it all the time. We need to statutorily say you cannot do that anymore.
We now know that we spent $6.2 billion at the United Nations last year. We have no transparency from them on how our money was spent. We know we account for 25 percent of their regular budget and 26 percent of the peacekeeping budget. We did get a little piece that leaked data on an audit. We know that nearly 40 percent of the money spent on peacekeeping is defrauded. Our voluntary additional contributions to the U.N. were $1.3 billion last year.
All this amendment says is, don't give more than a billion to an incompetent organization where we cannot find out where they are spending our taxpayer money. It is a ridiculous commitment. Why would we even let them have a billion? At least save $3 billion a year over the next 10 years, but by not allowing that to go forward.
I want to talk about one other thing I think is important that most of this body has voted against several times. We have $1.7 trillion sitting in the bank--money that the Congress has appropriated to be spent in outyears. Almost $700 billion of that has not been obligated for anything. Yet we have T-bonds and T-bills we are paying interest on while that sits over there.
Prudent management would say that rather than borrow more money, you would use money from the bank account you already have. So this portion of the amendment takes $50 billion out of that $700 billion. We ought to eliminate it all, if it is unobligated. I recognize they have to have some movement back and forth, but they will never notice that $50 billion that isn't in the unobligated balances, and when that expenditure comes, we can appropriate money for it. We are letting money sit idle while we borrow additional money to do additional things. This simply says that we move $50 billion out of that.
Section 18 is about getting energy efficiency at the Department of Energy.
Section 19--I talked to one of the Senators from California on this amendment. I am not opposed to fixing the problems with Medicare, the statistical inaccuracies in their payments, but I am opposed to not fixing it for the five other States that have it as well.
It is unfair to take the State of California when the States of Georgia, Minnesota, Ohio, and Virginia all have exactly the same problem. Yet in this bill, as we heard Senator Grassley say earlier, we only fixed one of the States. That is called an earmark. There is nothing wrong with fixing it for California, but there is plenty wrong with fixing it for California but not fixing it for these other four States. If it is something that needs to be fixed, why would we advantage California over these other States? It is called favoritism. It is called exceptionalism. It says that the citizens of California are worth more in this country than the citizens in Ohio and Georgia and Virginia and Michigan. They are not. If it is a problem that needs to be addressed, let's address the whole problem.
Why did they not address the whole problem? Because it would have cost more money. We are going to borrow $400 million per year to fix it in California, and that is OK but it is not OK to fix it in the other States. That is inherently unfair, it borders on the unethical, and it is exactly the type of thing the American people reject. If there is a problem, fix it for everybody. Do not single out one group of people at the expense of the rest of Americans.
Finally, this amendment eliminates all tax increases in this bill. The last thing we need to be doing right now is decreasing capital formation in this country, decreasing the ability to invest in new ideas, decreasing the capability of small businesses, which this bill goes after in terms of their subchapter S status, and making it more expensive to start a new business or keep one running when 70 percent of the jobs that are created in this country--and we are hurting for jobs--are created by small businesses.
This amendment has 20 segments, and we are going to have 20 votes. We are going to see where this body lines up on these issues. Vote against common sense at your peril. Vote against the future of our country. Vote against Madeline and everybody else like her. Vote to increase the debt even higher. Vote to increase the size of the Federal Government. Vote to undo pay-go again. Continue doing what we are doing, and what we will see is the American people are going to reject that. They are rejecting it now. It is high time we started listening to the American people.
I yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum.
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