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Washington Waste Watchers

Under a previous order of the House, the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Hensarling) is recognized for 5 minutes.

Rep. Jeb Hensarling

legislator photo

Mr. Speaker, I rise again this week as part of the Washington Waste Watchers, a Republican working group dedicated to rooting out the rampant waste, fraud and abuse that permeates every corner of the Federal bureaucracy.

I hope that soon the House of Representatives will be able to vote on a conference report for the fiscal year 2005 budget. Now, we have historically a large deficit in this Nation; and at this time, many of my Democrat colleagues suggest that it is time to yet again raise taxes on American families. Just last week, many voted against marriage penalty tax relief, the very same marriage penalty that would raise taxes on 30 million married couples by $369 next year.

Many Democrats keep demanding that we roll back the tax relief that is responsible for the unparalleled growth in our economy, the tax relief that is creating jobs; and the tax relief, if we look at the budget, amounts to 1 percent of the $28.3 trillion, trillion with a T, 10-year spending plan that we approved last year.

So if they are truly concerned about the budget deficit, perhaps they should focus on 99 percent of the challenge, and that is, the spending side of the equation, much of which, Mr. Speaker, unfortunately proves to be waste, fraud and abuse.

We must all realize that the deficit is the symptom. It is spending that is the disease. It is only the fourth time in the history of our Nation the Federal Government is now spending over $20,000 per household. This figure is up from just 5 years ago of $16,000 per household, representing the largest increase in the Federal Government in 50 years.

We have a spending problem in Washington, not a taxing problem; and I, for one, say it is not time to raise taxes on the American family as many Democrats seek to do, but it is time to get serious about rooting out the waste, the fraud, the abuse.

In other words, it is time to take out the trash in Washington. Let me give a few examples of waste in just one government agency. The Interior Department's Inspector General revealed that the Department now manages approximately 31,000 separate Web sites, presenting between 3 and 5 million pages of information with maintenance costs approaching $220 million a year. Now, AOL-Time Warner, who I believe is the largest Internet service provider in the world, manages in contrast about 50 sites, but the Interior Department manages 31,000 different Web sites. In an agency that employs 70,000, that means the Department of Interior has almost one Web site for every two employees.

Yet Democrats want to raise our taxes that would pay for more of this?

The Inspector General also reported at the Interior Department that we awarded $44 million in Federal contracts to the CEO of a tribal Indian corporation who stole and laundered a half million dollars in Federal funds.

The Guam Waterworks Authority, which receives Federal grants, incurred outrageous overtime costs of $8.6 million over a 3-year period, failed to collect delinquent accounts totaling $12.6 million, and failed to charge customers for a half million cost of water line extensions, all of this while using money from the Federal taxpayer. Yet Democrats want to raise taxes that will pay for more of this?

In another example, the National Park Service spent $800,000 on an outhouse, and it does not even work. The only thing it flushes is more of the American worker's hard-earned money down the drain. The list goes on and on and on.

Mr. Speaker, these are just a few examples of waste in just one Federal agency. The problem is we have over 10,000 Federal programs spread across 600 different agencies with little accountability to anyone. Republicans are trying to work to root out this waste of the American tax dollars. This should be a bipartisan issue, but many of our Democrat colleagues continue to fight us.

Last year our Committee on the Budget passed out a budget asking for authorizing committees to identify just 1 percent waste, fraud and abuse; just 1 percent. Yet Democrat leaders ridiculed the effort. One termed it a senseless and irresponsible exercise.

Mr. Speaker, I believe most Americans would disagree with that statement. In fact, I believe most would say saving taxpayer money and rooting out waste is common sense and the responsible thing to do with their money. The truth is there are many ways we can save money in Washington without cutting any needed services and without raising taxes on our hard-working American families because when it comes to Federal programs, it is not how much money that Washington spends that counts, it is how Washington spends the money.