Chattanoogan.com: You Can’t Trust The Senate To Live Within Its Means

Apr 26, 2012

In remarks on the Senate floor Wednesday, Senator Bob Corker, R-Tn., said the postal reform bill, s. 1789, is further proof that “you absolutely cannot trust the United States Senate to live within its means.” The postal reform bill violates budgetary limits for fiscal years 2012 and 2013 and would add $11 billion to the federal deficit.

“If we want to pass this postal reform bill, let’s cut $11 billion some other place. That’s what the states that you represent have to do. That’s what the cities that you come from have to do. But we won’t do that here,” said Senator Corker. “I’m not talking about one side of the aisle or the other. What I think is going to happen this afternoon [if the postal reform bill is passed] 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 you absolutely cannot trust the United States Senate to live within its means, that we’d rather do things to get ourselves reelected now than save this nation for the longer term.”

A transcript of Senator Corker’s remarks follows:

“But what I really want to speak about here is the fact that the world and our nation, 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. And 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. And, again, the whole world and certainly most citizens in our nation were glued to the television or reading newspaper accounts about what was happening. And so we committed in a bipartisan way, at a time when our nation has tremendous deficits, to basically pare down spending.

“What's 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, well, you know, the postal service is very popular, so therefore what we're going to do is not worry about the budget caps that we've put in place. And it's just hard for me to believe.

“I know there's a lot of accounting around the postal reform bill that is difficult for people to comprehend but one thing -- and what's happening with this bill, both the ranking (member) and chair continue to talk about the fact that some money came from the postal service into the general fund and now it's just being repaid. And, 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 that we put in place last August 2nd.

“And the responsible way for us to deal with this, Mr. President, would be to say we understand that this is money that should go back to the postal service, but to live within the agreement that we put in place, we need to take $11 billion from someplace else.

“And what I fear is getting ready to happen today -- and, again, I know there was a budget point of order that was placed against this bill; I supported that budget point of order. The ranking [member] and chair who again, I respect tremendously, said let us go through this process and see if there are some amendments that actually pare down the cost. Well, that's not happening.

“So what I fear is going to happen this afternoon is that in an overwhelming 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 that we get reelected is we spend your money on things that you like without asking for any repayment of any kind. And that's what's happened in this nation for decades. That's what we're seeing play out right now in Europe. We're able to watch the movie of what's going to happen to this great nation.

“And yet -- and we have politicians here in this chamber that have agreed to what we're going to spend this year and already because we have two popular bills, in a bipartisan way, people are saying, well, it doesn't really matter what we agreed to. We really don't care that the biggest generational theft that's ever occurred in this nation is continuing. We're basically taking money from our children to keep us in elected office by not making tough choices. I'm afraid that's what's going to happen this afternoon on this bill.

“I'm just coming down one more time to appeal to people on both sides of the aisle which 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're violating it again on this bill. What I would say is if is the postal service is so popular, let's take money from some other place that we don't consider to be the priority that this is.

“But we don't do that. Instead, what we're doing is exactly what has happened in Europe, what has happened here for a long time. We have this deal, this arrangement between politicians of this body and citizens, where we continue to give them what they want but we won't set priorities. We will not ask them to pay for it. And what's happening is our country is on a downward spiral. And these young (Senate) pages who are sitting in front of me are going to be paying for it. It's absolute generational theft. And this afternoon we're going to take another step in that direction.

“I just appeal to everyone to say look, if we want to pass this postal reform bill, let's cut $11 billion some other place. I mean, that's what the states that you represent have to do. That's what the cities that you come from have to do. But we won't do that here.

“So look, I’m 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 you absolutely cannot trust the United States Senate to live within its means, that we'd rather do things to get ourselves reelected now than save this nation for the longer term.”

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