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Mr. CORKER. Mr. President, I thank the Senator from Oklahoma. I actually learned a lot sitting here listening. I know energy production is very important to his State and, obviously, to our Nation. I know he has a wealth of knowledge regarding this issue. I candidly enjoyed hearing his remarks, and I look forward to hearing the balance of them at another time.
I am going to be very brief. I came down here because I am distressed about where we find ourselves. I want to thank the ranking member and the chair of the Homeland Security Subcommittee who is dealing with postal reform. I thank them for working through the committee process and actually bringing a bill to the floor in that manner, something we do not do enough of around here. I thank them for allowing us to have amendments, free-for-all, as it relates to matters pertinent to this bill. I thank them for their work. Personally, I would like to see a lot more reforms take place in the postal bill.
There is no question we are kicking the can down the road, and we are going to revisit this in another couple of years. Because of the way the bill is designed, I don't think there is any question that is going to happen.
But I want to speak to the fact that the world, our Nation, and all of our citizens watched us last August as this country almost came to a halt as we voted on a proposal to reduce the amount of deficit spending that is taking place in our Nation at a time when the debt ceiling was being increased. There was a lot of drama around that. Both sides of the aisle came together and established a discretionary cap on the amount of money that we would spend in 2012 and 2013.
Again, the whole world and certainly most citizens in our Nation were glued to the television or reading newspaper accounts about what was happening. In a bipartisan way, at a time when our Nation has tremendous deficits, we basically committed to pare down spending.
What is happening with this bill, and the same thing happened with the highway bill that was just passed, is that people on both sides of the aisle are saying: You know, the Postal Service is very popular. Therefore, what we are going to do is not worry about the budget caps we have put in place.
It is hard for me to believe. I know there is a lot of accounting around the postal reform bill that is difficult for people to comprehend. But what is happening with this bill, both the ranking and chair continue to talk about the fact that some money came from the Postal Service into the
general fund and now is just being repaid. By the way, I agree with that. But the problem is it still increases our deficit by $11 billion, and it absolutely violates the agreement we put in place last August 2.
The responsible way for us to deal with this is say we understand this is money that should go back to the Postal Service, but to live within the agreement we put in place we need to take $11 billion from someplace else.
What I fear is getting ready to happen today--and I know there was a budget point of order placed against this bill. I supported that budget point of order. The ranking and chair--whom, again, I respect tremendously--said let's go through this process and see if there are some amendments that actually pare down the cost. That is not happening. So what I fear is going to happen this afternoon is that in an overwhelmingly bipartisan way, Congress is going to say one more time to the American people: You absolutely cannot trust us to deal with your money because we are Western politicians--Western democracies are having the same problems in Europe--and basically the way we get reelected is we spend your money on things that you like without asking for any repayment of any kind.
That is what has happened in this Nation for decades. That is what we are seeing play out right now in Europe. We are able to watch the movie of what is going to happen to this great Nation. We have politicians in this Chamber who have agreed to what we are going to spend this year and already, because we have two popular bills, in a bipartisan way people are saying: It doesn't matter what we agreed to. We do not care that the biggest generational theft that has ever occurred in this Nation is continuing. We are basically taking money from our children to keep us in elective office by not making tough choices.
I am afraid that is what is going to happen this afternoon on this bill. I am just coming down one more time to appeal to people on both sides of the aisle who are participating in this to say:
Look, we made an agreement. We made this agreement just last August 2, where we said how much money we would spend, and we are violating it again on this bill. What I would say is, if the Postal Service is so popular, let's take money from some other place that we do not consider to be the priority this is.
We do not do that. Instead, what we are doing is exactly what has happened in Europe, what has happened here for a long time where we have this deal, this arrangement between politicians of this body and citizens where we continue to give them what they want, but we will not set priorities. We will not ask them to pay for it. And what is happening is our country is on a downward spiral.
These young pages who are sitting in front of me are going to be paying for it. It is absolute generational theft. This afternoon we are going to take another step in that direction. I appeal to everyone: Look, if we want to pass this postal reform bill, let's cut $11 billion some other place. That is what the States that we represent have to do. That is what the cities that we come from have to do.
But we will not do that here. I am not talking about one side of the aisle or the other. What I think is going to happen this afternoon is that people on both sides of the aisle are going to break trust with the American people, violate an agreement that we just put in place, and basically send a signal to the world that they absolutely cannot trust the Senate to live within its means. We would rather do things to get ourselves reelected now than save this Nation for the longer term.
I yield the floor.
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