Monday, February 9, 2009
Chair: The Senator from Arizona.
Sen. John McCain [R-AZ]: Mr. President, for the benefit of my colleagues, on this side we have Senators THUNE, GRAHAM, SESSIONS, COBURN, and ALEXANDER waiting to speak. I would imagine that, given that, between now and 11:30, hopefully, we could get most of those in between now and the time for voting, of course observing the protocol of those being recognized on the other side of the aisle.
While we are here in the Chamber discussing this issue, we all know discussions are being held behind closed doors between two or three or four Republicans in order to try to get 60 votes in order to pass this legislation. Obviously, the overwhelming majority of Republican Senators are opposed to the legislation. That same overwhelming majority of Senators are in favor of stimulating our economy and creating jobs.
How did we get here, and where do we go? We got here by the Speaker of the House saying: We won, so we wrote the bill. In the years I have been here, that is not called bipartisanship. Without the votes of 11 Democrats and without the vote of a single Republican, the bill emerged from the other body and came over here. Again, through the Appropriations and Finance Committees, the bill was written without significant input or with negligible input from Senators on this side of the aisle. There is an old saying: If you are not in on the takeoff, you will not be in on the landing.
We are up to approximately $1.2 trillion in the piece of legislation in front of us. The Congressional Budget Office yesterday said that this legislation would increase employment by the end of the fourth quarter of 2010 by 1.3 million to 3.9 million jobs. I did the math. So $1.2 trillion, 3 million jobs, is $923,997 for each job. For 1.3 million jobs, which is the low end determined by the Congressional Budget Office, it is only $307,092 per job.
The American people are figuring out that this is not a stimulus bill. It is a spending bill full of unnecessary spending, unexamined policy changes or policy changes that have been examined and rejected in the past, and, of course, tax cuts which do not stimulate the economy.
I ask to have printed in the Record examples of the House spending provisions and the Senate spending provisions which I find not only questionable but obviously, in the view of any objective observer, unnecessary, unwanted, and, indeed, wasteful.
There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in the Record, as follows:
$1.7 billion to make upgrades in the National Park System.
$50 million in funding for the National Endowment of the Arts.
$650 million to extend the DTV coupon program.
$6 billion for broadband and wireless services in underserved areas.
$41 billion to local school districts, including a buy American iron and steel requirement on the $14 billion School Modernization and Repair Program.
$325 million to establish an "innovation" fund for academic achievement awards to states and local education agencies or schools.
$726 million for an after school snack program.
$39 billion to help unemployed pay for COBRA.
$44 million for repairs to USDA headquarters.
$209 million for agricultural research facilities.
$200 million to "encourage electric vehicle technologies" in state and local government motor pools.
$600 million for new cars for the Federal government.
$300 million to provide rebates for buying energy efficient Energy Star products.
$32 billion for energy and transmission system improvements, including $11 billion for the Smart Grid Investment Program.
$245 million to upgrade the computer systems at the Farm Service Agency.
$200 million to repair and modernize U.S. Geological Survey facilities and equipment.
$400 million to NOAA for "habitat restoration".
$70 million for the "Technology Innovation Program" at NIST.
$10 billion for science facilities and research.
$3 billion for the National Science Foundation, including $100 million to improve instruction in science, math, and engineering.
$2 billion for NIH Biomedical Research.
$1.5 billion for NIH to renovate university research facilities and help them compete for biomedical research grants.
$462 million to enable CDC to complete its Buildings and Facilities Master Plan.
$1 billion "to minimize undercounting of minority groups" in the 2010 census.
$3 billion for a new "Prevention and Wellness" fund.
$600 million to increase the number of doctors, nurses and dentists.
$20 billion for health information technology.
$1.1 billion for Amtrak and Intercity Passenger Rail Construction Grants to improve speed and capacity.
$500 million to install Aviation Explosive Detection Systems in airports.
$1 billion for Community Development Block Grants.
$8 billion for loans for renewable energy power generation and transmission projects.
$6.7 billion for renovations and repairs to federal buildings.
$6.9 billion for Local Government Energy Efficiency Block Grants.
$2.5 billion for Energy Efficiency Housing Retrofits.
$2 billion for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Research.
$2 billion for the Advanced Battery Loan Guarantee and Grants Program.
$6.2 billion for Home Weatherization.
$2.4 billion for carbon capture and sequestration technology demonstration projects.
$500 million for Industrial Energy Efficiency manufacturing demonstration projects.
$300 million for grants and loans to state and local governments for projects that reduce diesel emissions.
$98.527 million to support the Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative to prevent and address cyber security threats.
Requires TSA to buy 100K employee uniforms from U.S. textile plants.
Legislation to give federal workers new whistle-blower protections.
An exemption for yacht-repair companies from paying for federal workers' compensation insurance to cover those hurt on the job (an exemption sought for 6 yrs by the Marine Industries Association of South Florida). Inserted by FL Reps. Deborah Wasserman Schultz and Ron Klein.
Net neutrality: the bill "includes language favoring open access--so-called net neutrality--that telecoms have long opposed."
Unemployment: the House language "secures an expansion of unemployment insurance for part-time workers" that Dems "have sought for more than a decade."
Education: "the stimulus aims more than" $125B "at bolstering public education, an unusual federal intervention in a sphere usually left to state and local governments."
Public housing: $5B "for the construction and repair of public housing. One House GOPer "depicts it as a quiet reversal of a 30-year trend of the government extracting itself from public housing construction."
Health care: the bill expands COBRA and allows workers older than 55, or those who have worked at a company for 10 years, to keep their COBRA coverage until they qualify for Medicare or find a new job. But "among the plan's biggest departures" from past policy is "allowing those who are unemployed to enroll in Medicaid." That provision "would temporarily expand" the program "to allow millions of unemployed workers to qualify for benefits."
$20 Billion to spur the adoption of electronic medical records, which would be, "by far, the biggest government infusion to enable medical information to follow patients back and forth among doctors' offices, hospitals and other providers." Starting in Oct. '10, "hospitals, doctors and others would be able to get increased payments from Medicare and Medicaid for using such systems."
$20 million "for the removal of small- to medium-sized fish passage barriers."
$400 million for STD prevention.
$25 million to rehabilitate off-roading (ATV) trails.
$34 million to remodel the Department of Commerce Headquarters.
$70 million to "Support Supercomputing Activities" for climate research.
$1.4 billion to green HUD assisted housing.
$100 million to teach children green construction skills.
$20 million for trail repairs in wildlife refuges.
$25 million for habitat restoration on wildlife refuges.
$198 million for a school food service equipment.
$120 million to upgrade WIC computer systems.
$23 million for repairs to National park Service trails.
$55 million for the Historic Preservation Fund.
$40 million to make Park Service offices more energy efficient.
$150 million for facility improvements at Smithsonian museums.
$75 million for smoking cessation.
$88 million for replacement of headquarters of the Health Resources Services Administration.
$2.9 billion for the Weatherization Assistance Program.
$4.5 billion for Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability (ie modernizing the electricity grid).
$430 million for the DOE Science Program including $330 million for laboratory infrastructure and construction and $100 million is for computer research and development.
$1 billion for National Nuclear Security Administration Weapons activities.
$20 million is for port modernizations in Guam.
$30 million is for water and wastewater infrastructure needs in Guam.
$12 million is for electrical transmission line upgrades in Guam.
$20 million to develop web-based programs for school lunch programs to manage food orders.
$100 million for grants to state to assist with aquaculture losses.
$300 million for diesel emission reduction grants.
$50 million to fund biomass utilization grants.
$100 million to repair Forest Service trails.
$20 million for retrofitting BLM offices to make them more energy efficient.
$20 million for USGS groundwater wells and surface water stations.
$85 million is provided for new USGS research equipment.
$25 million for abandoned mine site remediation on forest lands.
Sen. John McCain [R-AZ]: The distinguished majority leader mentioned that economists like Marty Feldstein said we need a stimulus. He certainly did. He later said this was not the stimulus we need. There are a large number of economists saying that what we are doing is what I know we are doing, and that is to lay an unacceptable multitrillion-dollar debt on future generations. If the purpose of this legislation is to create jobs and get the economy going, why did we reject the trigger amendment yesterday which got 44 votes which said: Once we have two quarters of positive GDP growth, we are required to embark on spending cuts to stop mortgaging our children's futures.
If we keep running up these debts, history shows that we will have debased the currency, printed more money. Hyperinflation takes place, which is, obviously, the greatest enemy of the middle class.
There are provisions such as the "Buy American" provision, Davis-Bacon, a number of other provisions in the bill which have nothing to do with jobs, nothing to do with stimulating the economy. In fact, Davis-Bacon and "Buy American" mean additional costs to the taxpayer.
The President, last night, speaking to the Democrats, said:
So then you get the argument this is not a stimulus bill. This is a spending bill. What do you think a stimulus is? That's the whole point.
The whole point is to enact tax cuts and spending measures that truly stimulate the economy. There are billions and tens of billions of dollars in this bill which will have no effect within 3, 4, 5 or more years, or ever. We are talking about a lot of money.
I used to come to the floor and object to provisions that were thousands of dollars, then hundreds of thousands of dollars, then millions--$50 million in funding for the National Endowment for the Arts. All of us are for the arts. Tell me how that creates any significant number of jobs. An afterschool snack program is probably a good idea. Do we really want to spend $726 million on it?
Here we are. My other colleagues want to speak, and so I will be speaking later on. It is important that others do as well. But here we are. We are in a situation where the overwhelming majority of Republicans--in fact, all--voted for both the trigger amendment and for our alternative, which was $421 billion in spending. There are behind-the-scenes negotiations going on so that they can try to pick off two or three Republicans. You cannot call a bill bipartisan if it has two or three or four or even five Republicans out of 535 Members of Congress. You can call it an agreement, but you cannot call it a bipartisan agreement. That is not what the American people want today. Yes, unemployment is up to 7.6 percent. The American people expect us to sit down together.
I see the distinguished chairman of the Budget Committee, the Senator from North Dakota. He probably knows as much about budget issues and spending as anybody. My recommendation is that he and others be appointed by both leaders to sit down in a room so that we can come out with a bipartisan agreement. That means leadership. That means involvement, not just of a couple or three who may be in some respects not reflective of the whole 41 Republican Members of the Senate.
Maybe we have to go back to square one. Maybe we should go back to the beginning because it was flawed when it began, when the authors of this legislation from the House said: We won, so we wrote the bill. That is not bipartisanship.
I urge both Senator McConnell and Senator Reid to appoint a group of Senators to sit down together and hash this out. We share the same goal, the same goal of stimulating this economy and creating jobs. We realize we have to spend money to do it. But we also realize--most of us should realize--that if we mortgage our children's future, they already have a $10 trillion debt; this is another trillion. There is going to be an Omnibus appropriations bill coming down the pike. There is going to have to be a TARP 3. We are looking at spending as far as we can see for which we do not have revenues.
We can have a modest--I say modest, I take that back. We can have a bill that is $400 or $500 billion. We can have a bill that truly stimulates this economy, with tax cuts that, in the view of economists, do create jobs, not a one-time injection of sending people a check. That didn't work the last time we did it under the previous administration.
I urge colleagues not to send a message to the American people that we have come out with a bill with 3 or 4 Republicans out of 535 Members of Congress. Let's try to sit down one more time, all of us, and come out with something that truly creates jobs, truly stimulates the economy, and restores the faith and confidence and trust of the American people in the Congress, which has badly eroded and is at historic lows. These are tough times. Let's act tough for a change and get something done, rather than have some partisan result which the American people--certainly a significant percentage--will resoundingly reject because it does not have fiscal responsibility.
I yield the floor.