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Health Care

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. BARRASSO. I believe my friend from Utah is absolutely correct. There is a creditability gap here. These modest cuts should prompt Washington to take a closer look at how we spend taxpayers' money. I saw today that the White House is now--they claim because of the sequester--canceling White House tours. It is astonishing when they say they will not cut the personnel there in terms of the security, but they will cancel the tours. I would invite people from all around the country who are planning a trip to Washington to come to the Senate, come to the House, and come to the Capitol. We will make sure they receive tours if they would like.

Talk about a loss of credibility. The Washington Post evaluates statements of folks, and over the last week they have given Pinocchios for those who are not telling the truth. There has been a parade of Pinocchios--a dozen of these Pinocchios that were given. One statement is the President's false claim on Friday during his news conference that Capitol janitors will be receiving a pay cut. They gave him four Pinocchios for that. It is not true.

``The threat to free meals for seniors,'' there are Pinocchios there. The false claim of pink slips for teachers by the Secretary of Education, another four Pinocchios. There are two Pinocchios for the claim that ``up to 70,000 children would lose access to Head Start and early Head Start services.''

The Senator from Utah mentioned the concerns about the FAA with furloughs and closed air towers. The verdict is still pending on that. There is a parade of Pinocchios for the administration at a time when the American people know so much of their taxpayer dollars are being wasted.

I traveled around Wyoming this past weekend, and people at home think that at least half of the money they send to Washington is wasted. It is time now to take an opportunity to eliminate wasteful and duplicative spending. We should streamline the Federal bureaucracy. We should make government programs more efficient. We should be more thoughtful in terms of how targeted cuts will work to ensure vital programs continue without interruption.

At the end of the day, we should make sure taxpayers are getting value for their hard-earned dollars. The administration does not see it that way at all. Instead of promoting responsible spending, the administration is promoting panic.

As Senator Lee pointed out, the administration is threatening the American people with pink slips for teachers, cuts to airport security, cuts to the Coast Guard patrols, cutting border patrol and enforcement, closing national parks, cutting food safety inspections, eliminating Head Start, Meals on Wheels, and the list goes on.

We need to be honest with the American people that we are $16.5 trillion in debt. That is not a threat; it is the truth. We can no longer afford to ignore the truth. Washington is burying our children and grandchildren under a mountain of debt, and if we don't treat Washington's spending addiction, the problem is just going to get worse. We must not allow the debt to tie the hands of future generations and prevent them from reaching their dreams.

I believe we have to take responsibility for the reality we are facing and we have to take action to change the course we are on. Of course, that means difficult decisions have to be made, but these decisions don't need to be reckless. They don't need to be dangerous. They don't need to imperil our students, teachers, military, senior citizens or our national security. They need to be smart, they need to be targeted, and they need to maximize the value of each dollar spent and minimize the risks and burdens to taxpayers.

I say to my colleague from Utah that instead of hitting taxpayers where they will feel it the most, the administration has an obligation and a responsibility to work hard to cut spending where the need is the least. I know the leadership the Senator from Utah has shown on ``Cut this, not that'' is something I think Americans would agree with completely.


Mr. BARRASSO. I appreciate the question. My friend is absolutely correct. The cuts threatened by the administration simply defy common sense and logic. Despite claims to the contrary, the President actually does have a choice. He can take a thoughtful, reasoned approach to implementing the sequester by cutting wasteful spending that we all know exists or he can continue to threaten and scare the American people with needless cuts to vital programs and services.

I put together a list of a few places where I would encourage the President to look for reasonable cuts because there are so many programs that are inefficient, ineffective or overlap with other programs. There are over 80 economic development programs that operate out of 4 different Cabinet agencies: the Department of Agriculture, Commerce, Housing and Urban Development, and Small Business.

There are 173 programs promoting science, technology, engineering, and math education across 13 agencies. These are important, but do we need 173 programs when one department of the government doesn't know what the other one is doing?

There are 20 agencies that oversee more than 50 financial literacy programs. There are more than 50 programs supporting entrepreneurs across 4 different departments of government. There are 47 different job training programs. Is job training important? Absolutely. There are 47 different programs, 9 different agencies, and it cost $18 billion in fiscal year 2009. Out of 47 programs, only 5 of them have had an impact study completed since 2004 to see if they actually work and whether participants in the program actually get a job. These have not been reviewed since 2004. Do we know they work? Do we need 47? Could they be improved upon?

We are looking at this sequester. The President proposed this sequester. The President signed the sequester into law, and now he claims he cannot live with the effects. I am here to say he is wrong. Responsibly implementing the cuts from the sequester is not only possible, I believe it is necessary, as we see here: ``Cut this, not that.''

This debate is not about--as we read in the Washington Post--the President trying to force it to an election to the House of Representatives in 2014, it is about the economy and the future of our country. It is not just about smaller government, it is about smarter government. People think they are not getting value for their money.

I believe it is past the time for Washington to take the smarter approach to our Nation's spending addiction, and I appreciate the leadership of the Senator from Utah.


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