Executive Sessionby Senator John Cornyn
Posted on 2013-02-27
CORNYN. Madam President, I come to the floor today to mark
another lamentable milestone in the long record of deadlines and
misgoverning that might be called malpractice over the last 4 years. As
we can see, today is the 1,400th day our colleagues across the aisle,
who control the agenda on the floor of the Senate through the majority
leader, have failed to produce a budget or even bring one to the floor
so we could vote on one. For 1,400 days this body has been truant from
one of the most fundamental obligations to the American people.
When they look to see what is happening in Washington, DC, they are incredulous. No family, no small business, no local government, no State government, no one except for the Federal Government, could actually operate without a budget. For nearly 4 years the Democratic leadership of the Senate has failed to put forward a fiscal plan to break our economy free from the lingering effects of the Great Recession. And the consequences of that are pretty clear when we look at trillion-dollar annual deficits and when we look at $16.5 trillion of debt which has threatened our economic recovery and job creation. That is the bitter fruit sown from the negligence of failing to produce a budget for 1,400 days.
I realize none of this is maybe as easy as it looks, and I know our Democratic colleagues have been under constant pressure from the White House. Indeed, the White House itself has long reinterpreted the role of its annual budget submissions to Congress from the governing documents they once were to now really no more than political posturing. As evidence of that, I would point to the fact that the President's last budget he submitted got zero votes out of 99 Senators voting. No Member, even of the President's own political party, would support his budget proposal last time because they believed it was not a governing document they could support instead of just a political statement.
These are some of the reasons I can't vote for Jack Lew for Treasury Secretary. After all, it was on his watch that most of this happened.
I am also deeply troubled by the fact that in my office as well as in the hearing before the Senate Finance Committee, Mr. Lew would not commit to any limit--to any limit--on Federal spending. Traditionally, over the last 40 years or so, the Federal Government has spent roughly 20 percent of our gross domestic product. It has been as high as 25 percent under the Obama administration. When I asked Mr. Lew what is the right figure we ought to be shooting for, he wouldn't even mention any figure. So he would not commit to any limit on Federal Government spending.
He also would not commit to the administration complying with Federal law requiring it to submit a blueprint for reforming Medicare, known as the Medicare trigger. It is a complex formula. But if Medicare is in trouble, Federal law requires the administration to submit a plan to fix it. Mr. Lew said: We didn't do it, and we are not going to do it.
I can't support a nominee who refuses to commit to tackling one of the biggest drivers of our debt on the eve of another manufactured fiscal showdown that was actually the President's and the White House's idea--this sequester people are hearing so much about which is now being used as a means by which to extract more money from the American taxpayer. So instead of the Federal Government doing what every family and every business has to do when there is not enough money coming in the door, the White House and the Democratic leadership are insisting on more from hard-working Americans, after a $600 billion tax increase in December.
Unfortunately, it is hardly surprising that President Obama would nominate someone who cannot simply commit to following the law. This administration has a record, sadly, of flouting the law of the land, and I will give some examples.
This administration, of which Mr. Lew has been an essential member, has, for example, during the government-run automobile bankruptcy process--the company's secured creditors, who were supposed to get paid first, found they were given less than unions were because of politics and flouting the rule of law.
As Solyndra was going bankrupt, we know the administration, rather than letting the private lenders pay for their bad judgment, decided to make the taxpayers subordinate to those private lenders.
We know that last year, because the circuit court of appeals in the District of Columbia has told us so, the President made unconstitutional appointments to the National Labor Relations Board and to now the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. That case hasn't been decided, but it is impossible for me to see how the rationale would be any different from the court of appeals' decision in the NLRB case.
We also know that last year the President waived key requirements of the 1996 welfare reform law. And to help implement ObamaCare, the Internal Revenue Service has announced that it will violate the letter of the law and dispense health insurance subsidies through Federal exchanges in those States that do not create State-based exchanges.
We know that when the 2,700-page behemoth known as ObamaCare began to be implemented, when some of the supporters--and some of the President's own supporters--complained about it, they were issued waivers even though the rest of the American people had to simply take it.
Finally, the President has again missed the legal deadline for submitting his own budget for this year. That was on February 4. In fact, four of the last five budgets have been late.
Simply put, we can't keep living like this. We can't allow this to become a precedent for future Presidents and future majorities, regardless of party, to rely on. We can do better. We must do better. And my 26 million constituents in the State of Texas demand that we do better.
I yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.