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Disapproval of the President's Exercise of Authority to Increase the Debt Limit

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. COBURN. Mr. President, I come to the floor aghast that we have entered into a unanimous consent agreement to spend less than 2 1/2 hours talking about raising the debt ceiling another $1.2 trillion--$1.2 trillion.

We passed the Budget Control Act that raised the debt limit to $15.2 trillion. The President has requested another increase in the debt limit of another $1.2 trillion. We passed the Budget Control Act that didn't cut spending. There is no absolute reduction in spending. We didn't eliminate one program. We didn't do one oversight hearing on the waste, fraud, and abuse in the Federal Government from the time of August, when we passed that, until now. No wonder America is disgusted with Congress.

On September 7, the debt limit was increased from $8.9 trillion to $9.8 trillion. In July of 2008 the debt limit was increased to $10.6 trillion, and in October to $11.3 trillion,

in February of 2009 to $12.1 trillion, in February of 2010 to $14.3 trillion, in August of 2011 to $14.7 trillion, in September of 2011 to $15.2 trillion, and now we are going to raise it to $16.3 trillion.

I did not vote for one of those. The reason is a debt limit does not mean anything in this country, because every time we come up to the debt limit, what we do is just pass it rather than do what the American people have asked us to do.

Little has changed in Washington in the last 5 years. We have argued, debated, and lamented over how to rein in the Federal Government's costs and the out-of-control spending. All the time that was going on, we were on a spending binge, spending money we do not have on things we do not need. Even though we knew we had to borrow more money, Congress has done nothing to avoid raising the debt limit--nothing.

We did not do oversight of Federal programs. We did not eliminate one duplicative program. We did not eliminate any spending in the Tax Code.

We hear all the Members of Congress and the President talking about how we have to change stuff. We did not do anything on that which would generate more revenue, fair revenue to the Federal Government. We did not work to save Medicare. We did not work to save Social Security. Instead of fixing the problem, we made it worse. We increased the deficit. We funded ineffective programs. We wasted money on silly projects. We funded duplication. We approved $1 trillion in more spending for next year--all of which will essentially be borrowed on the backs of our grandkids and our kids.
Let me give some examples of what we spent money on last year.

We spent $75,000 to promote the awareness that Michigan raises Christmas trees. We spent $113,000 for video game preservation. We spent $550,000 for a documentary about how rock music contributed to the collapse of the Soviet Union. We spent $48,000 for the second annual Hawaii Chocolate Festival. We spent $350,000 to support an international art exhibit in Venice, Italy. We spent $10 million to remake ``Sesame Street'' for Pakistan. We spent $35 million on our own party conventions, and we spent $764,000 to figure out how students use mobile messaging devices for social networking, which they already know how they do it.

In February of last year, GAO brought us a wonderful report. It showed thousands upon thousands of programs that are duplications. The majority leader of this body voted against both attempts I made to take advantage of that and eliminate waste and duplication. He never once instructed committee chairmen to go find this duplication and eliminate it to save our children, to save our country, and we did not do any better on our side of the aisle. The fact is, we did not do anything. Of the thousands of things we could have done, we did nothing to lower our deficit, cut the waste or eliminate duplication.

We have known about this significant $100 billion gold mine of savings from the GAO report for over 1 year now, and we have done nothing--zero. America should be disgusted with Congress because what we care about is party power, not fixing the problems of this country.

Just this week, the GAO reported--an additional report; and next month we are getting the second third of the Federal Government on duplication, and it is going to have another $100 billion identified as waste--we have 209 separate Federal programs to advance science, technology, engineering, and math education--209 programs, of which most of them overlap one another.

We have put amendments on the floor to say: We want every agency to tell us of all the programs. It is defeated. They vote against it because they do not want to know what all the programs are. The only way we eliminate the duplication is to make the agencies show us what they are doing. That goes down to defeat. Why? Because we do not want to do the hard work of living within our means such as every family and every business in this country does. We ignore the realities. We are in la-la land on who can win the next election.

We have done nothing about the $9.5 billion in government benefits that have been paid to people who earn more than $1 million a year in this country. We have done nothing about that since that report came out. Government benefits from unemployment insurance to student loans, $9.5 billion a year, and we have done nothing--zero. We could have done it. We could save money. We have done nothing.

Real Americans--everyday Americans--understand the way we get out of our problems is through sacrifice and prioritizing what is important for our country. We lack the leadership in this body to do that.

A veteran who served our country in a time of war wrote me a letter about our current financial situation. More than nearly anyone I come in contact with in Washington, this regular citizen from the middle of the country understands the problem, and he understands what is needed to fix it.


I'm a retired military member and Veteran, deployed four times during my career--having spent years of my life in some very dangerous places, away from home, and in tough conditions. I am very familiar with shared sacrifice. In all those days away, my sole purpose was to be prepared and ensure my Soldiers were ready to deploy and return alive. In our current situation, it's easy to feel like we're (as a country) going into battle unprepared against an economic, financial enemy of political gridlock and no compromise [no leadership]; with two political parties vying for the next election.

I'm well aware that many proposals currently out there would potentially affect me. However, I'm willing to work hard now and be part of a solution which solidifies our country's future versus robbing my kids and grandkids from the same opportunities our great country [offered me].

Please inform your colleagues--there are more people like me awaiting leadership and good decision making than there are left and right side uncompromising voters. These times call for briefings to the American people, not speeches. These times call for members of congress to stand together and [to brief us on our unfunded liabilities]--and to show how sacrifice now can lead to renewed prosperity later.



Lawton, OK.

I am embarrassed for us that we fail to meet the very standard we ask of the people who serve this country.

So rather than give a speech, let me give a briefing. We have done nothing to fix the 100-plus programs in surface transportation. We have done nothing to eliminate the duplication in the 82 Federal Government programs for teacher quality. We have done nothing to consolidate the 88 economic development programs. We have done nothing to consolidate the 80 different transportation assistance programs. We have done nothing to eliminate the 56 financial literacy programs. We have no business teaching anybody financial literacy when we do not even have it ourselves. We have done nothing to consolidate the 47 job training programs. As a matter of fact, we heard the President say he wanted to add to it. Homeless prevention and assistance, 20 programs we have done nothing to consolidate; the food programs, disaster response and FEMA, and there are hundreds more. Yet we have done nothing.

Shouldn't we come together as men and women, Americans--not Democrats and Republicans--and say we are going to do what we can do to assure the future of this country and quit thinking about the next election? We ought to be doing what is needed. It is called making priorities. We could save $50 billion if we got together and said: OK. Every committee is going to do oversight, eliminate duplication, and eliminate fraud. We have a bill with 37 cosponsors to eliminate the fraud in Medicare--37. It is bipartisan. We cannot even get it to the floor to vote on it to make sure CMS eliminates some of the $100 billion a year in waste and fraud at CMS in terms of Medicare. That is how we save Medicare. But yet we cannot get it to the floor. So when we do work together, we are blocked or impeded from having a vote where we have bipartisan consensus.

I call on my colleagues--I love them dearly; I think they are tremendous individuals--we better change our vision. We better change what we have our eye on in terms of the risk to our country, the survival of our country, and it is time we come together, put partisanship aside, and say we are going to solve the problems in front of this country. We can do it. The brainpower is here. The capability is here. Let's do it.


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