Mar 04 2010
Mr. COBURN. Mr. President, I am going to spend a few minutes talking about an amendment I have, No. 3358, which has already been pending, but I think, first, it is important for us to know that last year we borrowed $4 billion a day in this country. Mr. President, 43 cents out of every $1 the country spent at the Federal level was borrowed.
What does that mean? What that means is that over the next 10 years we are going to be paying $4.5 trillion in interest on the additional $9.8 trillion we are projected to spend that we do not have.
It was less than 3 weeks ago that this body passed a statute. Here is what the statute said: If you do not have the money to spend, then you have to cut something if you are going to spend new money.
As of last night, in the 3 weeks since we passed that bill, this body has said: That does not count. Time out. We are going to spend $120 billion over the next 10 years, but we are not going to pay for it.
That is why when that bill came through, to tell America we were going to finally get some fiscal discipline, we, as a minority, voted against it, because we knew it was not true.
As a matter of fact, one of our newer Members wanted to vote for it, as I had in the past when I first got here because I believed what it meant was real.
The fact is, the pay-go rules are a ruse. Pay-go means: American people, you pay, and we will go spend it. Even more than that: What you don't pay, we will go spend anyhow and we will charge it to your children and your grandchildren.
So this amendment I am proposing to be a part of this tax extenders plan would require three things. It would require the Secretary of the Senate to post on the Web site the following three things: the total amount of spending, both discretionary and mandatory, passed by the Senate that has not been paid for. We have this big hullabaloo saying we are going to pay for it and then as soon as the hard choices come of getting rid of something that is a lower priority, we will not do it; we just charge it on the credit card. So this amendment would require us to post on our Web site all the spending we are doing that wasn't paid for. In other words, we are not going to tell America one thing and do another without at least being transparent in knowing we are complicit in not following our own law we passed that said you have to do this.
The second thing it would require is the total amount of spending authorized in new legislation as scored by the CBO. Because what routinely happens here, and what I have been rejected on over the last 5 1/2 years, is that if you want to start a new program that is well intended to help people, one of the things we ought to do is get rid of the ones that aren't helping people, the ones that aren't efficient, the ones that are a lower priority. In other words, we ought to have to do what every American family has been doing for the last 2 or 3 years as we have gone through this economic constriction, which is make hard choices. They put priorities on things. The fact is, we are going to have $120 billion inside of 3 weeks that we refuse to prioritize. We are just going to spend another $120 billion.
Finally, the third component of what I am asking for in this amendment is for us to put on the Senate Web site any new government programs we create. What are the new programs we create? That is transparency.
So this amendment is not a gimmick. It is not to try to make people look bad; it is to try to make sure the American people know what we are doing and can see what we are doing. It is also to make sure the American people know when we say one thing and then do another. It is to make sure the American people can see that the Senate has passed $120 billion worth of unpaid-for programs that we, in fact, directly charged to the next two generations, after we have passed a pay-go rule saying we will never do this. It is about credibility. It is about character. It is about honor. It is about fessing up, if you don't have the courage to make hard choices.
So it is very simple. Some of my colleagues think it is a gimmick. I don't think it is a gimmick. It is about being transparent with the truth about our lack of courage to make hard choices.
Ultimately, what is going to happen is the world financial system is going to force us into making hard choices. We all know that is coming. We are going to have a $1.6 trillion deficit this year. Forty-five cents out of every dollar we spend we are going to borrow against our children. When does it stop? When do we start making the difficult choices we were sent to make?
So my hope is that my colleagues will support this amendment and we will, in fact, be honest and transparent with the American people about what we are doing and how we are doing it and how we don't even follow our own rules. There is a Senate rule on pay-go, a budget rule, but now there is a statute. What we have done is, we have conveniently voted in the Senate that we are not going to honor the statute, we are not going to make the hard choices, and we are going to go on and spend the future of the generations who follow.
With that, I yield the floor.
Mr. President, we just voice voted an amendment that will not do anything. What this amendment says is, where we violate our own rules in terms of pay-go, we will actually publish both the number of times and the amount of dollars we do that. It is about transparency of the Senate, being honest with the American people.
With great fanfare, the Senator from Montana came down and we put into law a pay-go law. Since that time, including this bill, we will have passed $120 billion of debt to our kids by saying we waive pay-go.
That is OK. That is the right of the body to do that. But it is not OK not to let the American people know that and let them keep track of us.
This amendment is very simple. Anytime we create a new program, anytime we pass and violate the pay-go rules by overriding the pay-go point of order, then we should list that with the American people so they can see what we are doing. It is quite simple, quite straightforward. It doesn't require any time. You will spend forever going to the Congressional Budget Office to find this. This makes it very simple, very straightforward.
I reserve the remainder of my time.
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