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John C.
Republican TX

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  • The Sequester

    by Senator John Cornyn

    Posted on 2013-03-06

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    CORNYN. Madam President, I am not sure where the Obama administration is getting all of its talking points on the sequester, but the President might want to consider hiring a fact checker.

    Even before the sequester took effect, Education Secretary Arne Duncan declared that schoolteachers were getting pink slips. A few days later he had to walk those comments back. He said he was referring to a single school in West Virginia. But when the Washington Post contacted the superintendent of that school, he said not one teacher had gotten a pink slip because of the sequester.

    Then President Obama suggested that all of the people who keep the Capitol clean would be suffering a pay cut. But that wasn't true either, according to Capitol Superintendent Carlos Elias.

    We have been repeatedly told that the sequester would trigger drastic layoffs of Federal workers. Yet on Monday alone the Federal Government posted literally hundreds of job advertisements.

    Finally, just yesterday, when asked to provide evidence for the claim that 70,000 children would be denied access to Head Start because of the sequester, the White House had no details. While the President has been out there playing Chicken Little, Members of Congress have been waiting for the White House to send over its budget.

    The law requires the President to transmit a budget by February 4, and we have been now advised his budget will not be forthcoming until March 25. Ironically, that will actually be after the House and the Senate have taken up our own budget, and we will have no input from the President on his proposal.

    A few weeks ago I said a second term offers the President a second chance. I still remain hopeful that President Obama will eventually be persuaded to adopt a serious approach for long-term deficit reduction and long-term economic growth.

    One of the great tragedies in America today is the fact that our economy is growing so slowly that unemployment rates remain unacceptably high--roughly around 8 percent. That is only after many people have simply given up looking for work. Now more than 20 million people are either out of work or they are working part time when they would prefer to work full time. But that is not going to happen until we get the economy growing again--and that is not going to happen until we get our hands around our long-term deficit and economic growth.

    I realize the President and Democrats want to take the House of Representatives back in 2014. The President probably remembers the Halcyon days of 2009 and 2010 when his party controlled the White House, the Senate, and the House. That got us ObamaCare, a $1 trillion stimulus, and a whole lot more debt, and the Dodd-Frank law--which was targeted at Wall Street but which hit Main Street, including a lot of our community bankers.

    There is a time for campaigning and there is a time for governing. But the 2012 election occurred 17 weeks ago and the 2014 election will not occur for another 20 months. Now is the time for governing, not for delivering more partisan stump speeches. In order to govern, the Senate needs to pass a budget, something this Chamber has not done for more than 1,400 days. Over that same period our gross national debt has grown by $5.5 trillion and we have experienced the weakest economic recovery since the Great Depression.

    [[Page S1150]] Since the official end of the recession in June of 2009, the median household income in America has fallen by more than $2,400. Meanwhile, since the President took office the cost of family health insurance has increased by $2,300. So not only has household income for most Americans--the median household income, that is--dropped by $2,400, they are seeing an additional burden of $2,300 because of ObamaCare.

    The bottom line is the American people are tired of the ``Chicken Little'' stories and they are tired of the fear mongering. They look at what is happening in Washington--I know my constituents in Texas do-- and they almost want to turn their eyes in another direction to avert their gaze because they understand that Washington is not serving their interests. If President Obama wants real change, it is time for him to get behind real tax reform and real reform of Social Security and Medicare, something his own bipartisan fiscal commission--Simpson- Bowles--recommended.

    After all, the American people did not send us here to kick and scream over a 2.4-percent budget cut. They sent us here to make some hard decisions to ensure long-term economic health and economic prosperity and it is time for the President as the leader of our country and the leader of the free world to take that message to heart.

    I yield the floor.

    The PRESIDING OFFICER (Ms. Baldwin). The Senator from Kentucky is recognized.


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