Export-Import Bank Reauthorization Act of 2012--Motion to Proceed

Floor Speech

Date: May 14, 2012
Location: Washington, DC


Mr. CORKER. Mr. President, I appreciate the Senator's comments, and I see the Senator from Texas and the Senator from Wyoming here also.

Look, I think the No. 1 responsibility we have in the U.S. Senate is to pass a budget and to lay out for the American people how we are going to spend the resources that come in. The last time we passed a budget was 1,111 days ago, and we spent over $10 trillion of the U.S. taxpayer money during that time.

To be honest, I have quit voting for any spending bills--any spending bills--until we come to a point in time where we at least lay out for the American people how much of their money we are going to spend and what we are going to spend it on.

Again, each year we have $3.5 trillion to $3.6 trillion being spent by the Federal Government with no plan. I am embarrassed for this body, candidly, that we have not even tried to take up a budget. I know that the committee itself

began to take one up a few weeks ago, and the chairman was asked not to do it because it made no sense to do a budget at this time. Thankfully, the Parliamentarian ruled in this body that it was appropriate for us to take up a budget. Again, I cannot imagine a greater shirking of our responsibility than to not lay out to the American people exactly where their dollars are going.

What worries me most is that this is the greatest transference of wealth from these pages--from their generation to my generation--that has existed in modern history in this country. There is a tremendous transference of wealth as we do not deal with the issues of Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. What we are doing is actually piling up tremendous amounts of indebtedness so that the people of America will like us more as politicians, as we don't make difficult decisions and don't have to wrestle with the fiscal issues that we have as a Nation.

This is the thing that is ailing Western democracies around the world. We are seeing this play out, obviously, in Europe right now, as citizens are rising up in protest over having to deal with the tough issues of the day. There has been this grand bargain in Western democracies--ours being one--where politicians have given citizens what they wish without asking them to pay for it.

I think we all understand that this is up now. We have a dilemma in this Nation. We have a dilemma around the world right now because of our inability to deal with this issue. So in the process, what we are doing is basically transferring wealth from that generation to my generation. It is absolute generational theft. I think it speaks to the greatest vulnerability we have as a Nation.

If you speak to all of our national security analysts or you speak to anybody in this body, we know our greatest threat is not what is happening in China, it is not what is happening in Iran, it is not what is happening in Syria, but the greatest threat to this Nation is us, ourselves. For some reason, this body has chosen to totally shirk our responsibilities as they relate to dealing with this issue.

I know over the next couple of weeks we are going to have the opportunity to vote on some budget resolutions. I agree with the Senator from Wisconsin. I hope there will be at least some way this body can come together and present a budget for debate. If not, I know there will be alternatives put forward. Again, this is the greatest threat to our Nation; that is, our inability to show the kind of discipline we need to show as a Nation. Our country's greatness is dissipating as we continue to shovel this under the rug and not deal with it. I do hope the Senate at some point soon will rise and deal with the major responsibilities we have in this Nation, and that is putting our country on sound footing.

I will close with this. I don't think there is anything we can do that would cause our economy to lift off more quickly than for people in this Nation and around the world to know that we actually have dealt with progrowth tax reform and entitlement reform, and passing longer term budgets and discretionary caps that would put this Nation on sound footing. I believe the economy would take off. I hope that is what we rise to do before the end of this year.

I yield the floor for my colleague and great friend from Texas.


Mr. CORKER. I know the Senator from Texas spends a tremendous amount of time on appropriations issues and knows a great deal about this, and she knows more than me if we wiped out all discretionary spending--which this year will be capped at $1.47 trillion--we still wouldn't wipe out the budget deficit.

So the Senator is absolutely correct. We could do away with all defense spending, all educational spending, all research and development, and we could still not cause our budget not to have a deficit. Let me give a stat--and I talk about this a lot back home, and I am so glad the Senator has given me this opportunity.

The average American worker earns $43,500 today. So in a two-wage-earner family, that is $87,000. Over their lifetime, in today's dollars, that family will pay into the Medicare Program $119,000, and that includes the part the employer pays on their behalf. So between what they pay in and the employer--and the Senator from Texas has been an employer before and knows about paying the Medicare taxes into the system--that combined amount of money for the average American family is $119,000 in today's dollars. That same family, if they retired, would take out of the system, over their lifetime, $357,000. Now think about that. That is in today's dollars. Again, $119,000 going into Medicare on their behalf and $357,000 coming out of Medicare.

I think most people in this body--even people who haven't been in business--realize we cannot make that up with volume. Yet volume is on the way. There are 20 million more Americans over this next decade who are going to be part of that same formula--$119,000 in and $357,000 out.

I have been quoting these stats every year, and the numbers get further and further apart every quarter.


Mr. CORKER. Mr. President, $529 billion, to be exact. The Senator from Wyoming has brought out over and over the unsustainable growth problem we have, meaning every year we come to this cliff with physicians--and he is a physician and used to practice on a daily basis--and instead of dealing with that issue over a decade, which would have cost about $300 billion, instead, we swept that issue under the rug and took the full $529 billion to help create this entitlement.

I think most people in this body know there is no way this bill is going to work the way it is laid out; that the costs are going to be substantially more because in a free enterprise system, people act on their own behalf, in their own self-interest. The subsidies are so high for families up to $88,000 a year, the penalty is so low, what is going to happen is we are going to have millions and millions of people out on this program far beyond the projections that have been laid out.

So anyway, because we are talking about Social Security and Medicare, all of us want it to be solvent. That is what we want to see. We want to make sure Medicare and Social Security are here for generations down the road. But we all know--the Medicare trustee has said so--it is going to be insolvent by the year 2024.

One way to do deal with it is to put our heads in the sand and just let it happen in the years after we are gone, let it happen to the good citizens of this country. Another solution is to recognize: Hey, this is a big ship, and we need to turn it a little in another direction so these young people sitting in front of us don't have to carry the tab.


Mr. CORKER. I would say to the Senator from Wisconsin and everyone, that is an outstanding chart, and I like the one before it even better. But the fact is that it is so easily known, the illumination is so bright that we have a major fiscal issue in this country, and we are watching how that can play out and be so destructive to people's lives right now in Europe as they try to deal with these issues.

Our Nation is so large and the economy is so big that there will not be anyone to come to our rescue such as we are seeing play out in some of these other countries. And for us to see what is happening and to know we are participating in this--we are participating in this because spending here in America is on auto pilot. We are going to spend $45 to $47 trillion of the American people's money over the next decade. We have not a single document in place to lay out how that is going to take place. I think it is incredibly irresponsible.

It would be an embarrassment to me if I had some ability to run this place and to know that we had no budget and yet we know the calamity that is going to occur if we do not deal with this issue. We understand it full well, and we are doing nothing about it. Instead, we are dealing with all kinds of issues that are all about elections and whether one side can make the other side look bad and is this going to make a tough vote for somebody else, instead of dealing with our No. 1 responsibility.

I am hoping that somehow at least 60 folks in this body will be willing to pass a budget to then create a conference between the House and Senate so we can take a major step toward living up to our financial obligations as a country.

I thank the Senator so much for organizing this today.

I yield the floor.