This is a rush transcript from "Your World With Neil Cavuto," March 10, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
NEIL CAVUTO, ANCHOR: In the meantime, now to stimulus and the lawmaker fed up with rampant waste and abuse involving the $787 billion stimulus program, more than 730 allegations of fraud reported so far. That’s on top of questions about how all of that money is being spent, including more than 70 grand to study the impact of cocaine use on monkeys. I will leave it at that.
Democratic Senator Mark Pryor of Arkansas, the guy leading that charge, he joins us right now.
Senator, good to have you.
SEN. MARK PRYOR D-ARK.: Thank you. Thanks for having me today.
CAVUTO: You know, even I understand when you have such a big bill and big spending, obviously, a lot of relatively big stuff slips through the cracks. But what you’re studying is a lot of stuff slipping through the cracks.
CAVUTO: What is your biggest concern?
PRYOR: Well, there are — I mean, you used the word rampant. I don’t know if we can say that yet, because we’re just starting this investigation.
CAVUTO: Well, how about insidious? How about insidious?
PRYOR: ...it’s there. We know it’s there. The question is, how much of it is there?
And, so, for the last two or three months, very quietly, we have been working with the inspectors general, we have been working with various departments. We are working very hard to try to make sure that, if we’re going to have this stimulus money, we’re go to spend it, we need to spend it the right way.
And what we have seen is, some of the departments have had lapses. For example, the Department of Defense gave out some contracts, gave out some stimulus money to companies that were already under investigation for doing one wrong thing or another. HUD gave out, I think, $1.9 million to some — to a company that was not eligible.
Energy has done that a few times, where they have been giving to large businesses, when it’s supposed to go to small businesses. So, there are serious — there are some problems here. The question we’re trying to get to is how serious.
And I think the fact that they know that Congress is looking at this and Congress is keeping a close eye on this, I think that will help the taxpayer in the long run.
CAVUTO: I don’t know if they have faith that Congress is keeping a close eye on this. I commend you, Senator, for keeping an eye on it, but I don’t know if a lot your colleagues are, because they’re going full-throttle with this health care thing that is much bigger by comparison and just as potentially problematic.
So, what do you make of that, that it’s like as if...
PRYOR: Well, we...
CAVUTO: ... full-speed ahead, and we will work out the spending abuse details later?
PRYOR: Well, when you look at a — any big expenditure, you know, the government certainly is guilty of it, but, also, the association of certified fraud auditors, the people that look at this kind of thing for companies and nonprofits, they say, when you have a big expenditure like this, you’re going to have about 7 percent fraud.
Certainly, I hope that the numbers in the stimulus bill are much, much lower than that. But, still, even if it’s 3 percent or 4 percent, that’s billions and billions of dollars, and that’s way too much.
So, I just think that the accountability has to be there. One of the frustrations I have had — I have been in the Senate for seven years now — I’m in my eighth year — one of the frustrations I have had, I feel like the Congress has fallen down on its responsibility to — for accountability.
CAVUTO: Well, I tell you why they have, Senator. When they accept those percentages, say, 7 percent, 8 percent, 9 percent, that, in every contract, there is that assumption there is 10 percent waste and just getting pitted away, but, at a trillion dollars, that’s $100 billion. That’s $100 billion of the folks...
PRYOR: I know.
CAVUTO: ...money that just disappears.
PRYOR: It’s an enormous amount of money.
CAVUTO: That’s the problem. We get...
CAVUTO: We accept it, right?
PRYOR: Well, that’s the point I think I’m trying to make, is...
PRYOR: ...we’re — we can’t accept this.
PRYOR: I have a zero tolerance for this. We have to go after this. We have to make this very clear, shine the light of day on it.
CAVUTO: All righty.
PRYOR: And, hopefully, the taxpayer will be made whole in the end.
CAVUTO: Shine away.