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Washington Waste Watchers Report On Usda Waste

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 today as a member of the Washington Waste Watchers, a Republican working group dedicated to rooting out rampant waste, fraud, abuse and duplication in the Federal bureaucracy.

Despite the major economic recovery that is under way, despite more new jobs and historic rates of homeownership, Democrats keep demanding that we take tax relief away from American families. Take away the tax relief that is responsible for the unparalleled growth in our economy, the tax relief that is creating jobs, the very same tax relief that has actually added revenues to our Federal Treasury. That is right, the Treasury Department reports that revenues are up due to tax relief-generated economic growth.

When it comes to the Federal deficit, Mr. Speaker, our fiscal challenges lie on the spending side, not on the taxing side; and that is where we must focus our attention. And by any measure, spending is out of control in Washington. For only the fourth time in the history of our Nation, the Federal Government is now spending over $20,000 per family. This is up from just $16,000 just 5 years ago. This represents the largest expansion of the government in 50 years. Since I have been alive, the Federal budget has grown seven times faster than the family budget.

Clearly we have a spending problem, not a taxing problem. Now is not the time to raise taxes on American families, as so many Democrats seek to do; but it is time to take the trash out in Washington, the waste, the fraud, the abuse, the duplication.

Let me give you just a few typical examples we found recently in just one government department, the Department of Agriculture. The Office of Rural Rental Housing made $4.4 million in rental subsidy overpayments in just one State simply because they could not verify the income of the recipients.

Can you imagine going to a bank or an automobile dealer and having them just hand out a loan without verifying your income? Do they not typically ask for a pay stub or a tax return? It is only common sense in the rest of America, but apparently not with many Federal bureaucrats. And Democrats want to raise our taxes to pay for more of this? $4.4 million of the people's hard-earned money squandered. That is enough money to fully armor 142 Humvees in Iraq.

Because the Rural Utility Service will not allow water and waste projects to be funded by both government grants and private loan sources, American taxpayers paid for more than $85 million of unnecessary grants over a 4-year period. This same agency made loans totaling about $100 million to projects that could have been financed with private credit. Instead, taxpayers, American families, were forced to finance them. This policy does not make any sense, yet Democrats want to raise our taxes to pay for more of this? That $85 million in unnecessary grants could have been used to purchase over 53,000 Kevlar vests for our troops in Iraq.

Mr. Speaker, almost everyone believes that we should help provide adequate nutrition for the neediest Americans; but because a food stamp program State agency in the Midwest did not provide oversight over its field offices, and because they had not performed a management review in over 7 years, almost $2 million in Federal funding was improperly spent on administration of the food stamp program in the year 2000. That money could have bought 720,000 gallons of milk for food stamp recipients in Indiana.

Mr. Speaker, can you imagine starting up a small business and not reviewing your finances for over 7 years? My guess is the business would go bankrupt. Yet Democrats want to raise our taxes to pay for more of this?

Mr. Speaker, this is just the tip of the iceberg. The list goes on and on and on, and so does the waste, the fraud, the abuse and duplication. It has been going on for decades.

Republicans are working hard to root out the waste of American tax dollars, but too often our Democrat colleagues keep fighting us every step of the way. Last year, the Committee on the Budget approved a budget asking for authorizing committees to identify just 1 percent, just 1 percent, of waste and fraud and abuse within their budgets. But again the Democrats fought us every step of the way. One of their leaders reviled our efforts, ridiculed it, and said it was ``a senseless and irresponsible exercise.''

Mr. Speaker, the American people disagree. With the Nation at war and with a large Federal budget deficit, there is no better time than now to root out this senseless waste, fraud and abuse, because when it comes to Federal programs, it is not how much money Washington spends that counts; it is how Washington spends it.