I thank the Senator for his comments. I don't get invited many places to speak because I talk about what the Senator has been talking about. It depresses people, but it is about time we got depressed over the budget and made some changes. I appreciate everybody on the committee and those who are not on the committee who have been working to solve this problem. I know that most of you ran on getting a balanced budget, getting to a balanced budget, balancing it now if we could.
I get real frustrated because I know we are $20 trillion in debt and heading to $29 trillion. Then I hear people say: Yes, but we cut the deficit in half.
That is not the debt.
I don't like the word ``deficit.'' I call it overspending. That is what we are doing.
We just got the report that we are going to be $590 billion overspent this year. As Senator Lankford pointed out, 70 percent of the budget is on autopilot. So that 30 percent that we get to make a decision on is $1,070 billion.
We have to worry a little bit because interest rates might go up. But on $20 trillion, if it is 1 percent, that is $200 billion a year that we are throwing into a rat hole. But if that goes to 5 percent, which is the norm for the Federal Government, we are out $1,000 billion a year in interest.
Let's see. We get to make decisions on a $1,070 billion and $1,000 billion of that would go to interest. We better solve this pretty quick. I think we could be at 5 percent within 3 years. The defense is over $500 billion, and that is not enough.
We definitely have a problem, as has been pointed out by the chart. In the 40 years since the Congressional Budget Act was passed, we have only completed all 13 bills four times. We have been holding hearings in the Budget
Committee. This group of people have been holding other meetings to see how it is done in the private sector, how it is done by other countries, and how it is done by the States. Nobody does it like the Federal Government.
When I was trying to figure out first budgets, I found out the format we use is not the same as the one the Appropriations Committee uses and definitely not the same format the President uses. Then I found out that is intentional. That is so you cannot follow the dollars.
But there are a lot of problems besides that in following the dollars. For instance, we have 120 housing programs administered by 20 different agencies. That is not seven per agency or one having more than the others. That means that the 120 programs are administered by all 20 of the agencies. Nobody is in charge. There is no goal set. We don't know if they completed what they set out to do, and there is no way to make a correction if they did.
I pointed out a lot of times how far behind we are on actually approving the things that we do. We don't ever go back and look at the old stuff. We are paying for a program from 1983 that has expired, another one from 1987, and a whole bunch of them from before 2006. We have to get off this auto pilot and get to a new format.
I congratulate this group and particularly Senator Perdue. The first time we had a Budget Committee meeting I remember introducing him, and I said: Senator Perdue knows how to balance a budget. He has been working in the private sector.
He said: No, in the private sector you have to show a little bit of a profit.
Well, we are going to have to show a little bit of a profit around here if we are ever going to get rid of the debt. We better do that or our kids are really going to suffer.
In fact, in the private sector we are having some pension problems, but we have been making the private sector put money away for the pensions, invest the money so they would be able to meet the promise that they made.
The Federal Government doesn't do that. We just take it out of this budget.
If we spend $1,000 billion on interest and there is only $1,070 billion, what do you think is going to happen to Federal employees who are expecting retirement? That could be in worse shape than the multiemployer plans.
We are going to have to come up with some solutions, and I appreciate this approach where we are looking at what the private sector does, what the States do, and what other countries do--and they have had success.
It is a little difficult because it causes some reorganization in what we are doing. Maybe we can wind up with one or five housing programs, and they would all be under one agency so we could have goals.
We are going to have a portfolio method of budgeting so that we know what we are trying to do and whether we get it done. There are already some laws on the books that say that we do that, but we don't.
I congratulate you for doing this. I am so pleased that we have Senator Perdue heading up this effort because, as I mentioned, he has saved some businesses before. They took his advice and reorganized. I think a lot of us have looked at this and said it could be done. It is going to be difficult because we don't even go back and look at old programs--let alone reorganize.
I hope people will pay attention to this and see if they have some other ideas to throw in. But listen carefully to what is being said here today because this has to be fixed.
I was hoping we could fix it before the elections because we were getting cooperation from the other side of the aisle and a lot of good suggestions. One of the reasons we were able to participate in a very bipartisan way, I think, is because none of us knew who was going to be in the majority in the Senate, nor did we know who the President was going to be. I think that made all of us a lot more reasonable. I hope after the elections we can still be reasonable and do something that will save this country.
I thank the Chair.