Statements and Speeches
“Over the past two years, we’ve faced a series of immense economic challenges. These challenges have disrupted the lives of millions of American workers, slowed our nation’s economic growth, and brought greater attention to the fiscal stability of our government. In the face of this uncertainty and fear, the American people have demanded a new sense of urgency and attention to these problems and called on us to act.
“That is why, over a year ago, President Obama proposed and this Congress passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to help put Americans back to work and instill a renewed sense of confidence in our economy. The plan totaled over $787 billion, much of it in the form of tax cuts for working Americans, which citizens saw in clear dollars and cents right on their weekly paycheck.
“The other piece of the Recovery Act was direct federal spending for projects to help rebuild our physical and economic infrastructure while, at the same time, preserving jobs and beginning the process of getting unemployed Americans back to work. And when the President and this Congress put together this plan, we wanted to make sure that not one dime was wasted.
“The Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board was created to give Americans a window into how their government was spending their money. The steps the Board and the administration have taken in this area are unprecedented, really. Through Recovery.gov, citizens for the first time could see where projects were happening, how much was being spent on them, and how many jobs were saved or created because of them.
“With any pot of money this big, however, there will be scam artists and criminals who want to take advantage and defraud the American people. The Recovery Board was tasked to go after these individuals proactively and make sure that every penny was being spent to put Americans back to work and not to line the pockets of crooks. Working with Inspectors General from 29 federal agencies, the Recovery Board has successfully provided both transparency and accountability for these funds. In fact, they’ve done such a good job, the President has told them to take their show on the road.
“Last month, Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag and Vice President Biden announced that the tools and techniques successfully used at the Recovery Board will be expanded to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. I’ve said before we need to do a better job of bringing the highest level of health care to Americans for less money, and it’s clear there’s a lot more we can do to cut fraud and waste from our public healthcare system.
“Medicare and Medicaid made about $65 billion in improper payments in FY 2009 – and good deal of those payments can be attributed to fraud. If we can use the Recovery Board’s work as a model for Medicare and Medicaid, and quickly detect and stop those payments – then we can start to put that money back to work for the American people.
“I look forward to hearing from our first two witnesses – Chairman Devaney from the Recovery Board and Mr. Werfel from the Office of Management and Budget – about the Recovery Board’s successes and challenges as well as the President’s plans to expand these efforts to make all of government work better and more efficiently. As we look at the averted economic collapse in the rearview mirror, we face our nation’s mind-boggling budget deficits barreling straight toward us.
“I hope to have a broader discussion with members of our second panel about how they think government can perform better and more efficiently at a time when those of us in government are thinking about how we can do more with less. These are well-respected visionaries in their fields and I look forward to hearing their thoughts on how government might be able to solve problems and do more with less by leveraging novel approaches and innovative technologies.
“If we do not start doing a better job of managing our federal expenses and begin to close our deficits, we will pass on a legacy of crippling debt to our children. We must use every tool available to bring our fiscal house back in order and give the American people the government they deserve.”