|7:51 PM EDT||
Tom Coburn M.D., R-OK 2nd
Mr. COBURN. Mr. Chairman, again this is an increase of $4,509,000 on a budget. Last year was at $65,000. What we are seeing is a 6.8 percent increase, and the question that I would ask again is if we are going to increase this $4,509,000, and ultimately when it is all said and done the money is going to come out of the Social Security surplus, that we ought to have a great explanation.
If my colleagues read the committee print on this, and I will take the time to read it, there is not a valid explanation of what we are doing here, and again I would query the members of the committee. Maybe we are supposed to be doing this just to give us a good answer, and I will try to withdraw this amendment. But the fact is that we have silence on the issue.
Let me read what the committee print says.
``For the Economic Research Service the committee provides an appropriation of $70 million, an increase of $4,509,000 above 1999 and an increase of $14 million above the budget we have. The committee has provided $17,495,000, an increase of 300 above the budget request, for studies and evaluations of work under the Food and Nutrition Service.''
Now I am for our elderly food nutrition programs, I am for our WIC programs, but I want to know how we are going to spend this money, and I want to know why we are spending it in the direction and the increase, if, in fact, the committee expects ERS to consult and work with the staff of the Food and Nutrition Service as well as other agencies to assure that all the studies and evaluations are meeting the needs of the department. Is there an area where we are not supplying that need with the $65
million that we had last year? Is there money that could go to our farmers that are out there starving? Could some of this $4,509,000 go directly to farmers?
As my colleagues know, we say we want to help farmers, and some gentlemen have said today that some of our amendments have hurt farmers. Well, if they have, help us take this and change this and move it to the farmers instead of spending it on bureaucracies.
Again, we are going to have a process by which at the end of the appropriation day this $4,509,000, whether we want to hear it or not, is going to be taken from the Social Security surplus. Most people in this room know that. It is apparent that that is what is going to happen, regardless of whether we have another omni-terrible bill or not. The money on increased spending is going to be taken from the Social Security surplus, and I believe that it is the honorable thing for us to do to stand
up and admit that, and then say I believe we ought to take from the Social Security surplus an additional $4,509,000 to run this branch of the Department of Agriculture.