Why don’t we hear more about this guy?

Senator (and practicing physician) Tom Coburn (R-OK)

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK)

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK)

As I have said many times in the past, this guy is probably the only person who deserves to remain in congress. And yet, how many people outside of Oklahoma have even heard of him?

Here is his take on the Scott Brown victory and the mood of the country.

“Massachusetts voters sent Washington a clear message this week that they want members of Congress to change their behavior today – not after the next election, but today.  Also, the election was not a referendum on President Obama, health care, or any single issue per se, but on the size and scope of government.”

If you have attended a Tea Party rally or seen coverage of one, you know this is true. Our government has grown (and continues to grow) into a leviathan that feeds on everything around it. Like the Borg, it infests every aspect of our lives seeking to crush the essence of our collective being. This is what many folks are just beginning to understand. This is what should be scaring the shit out of you.

According to Coburn:

“Congress must also reform entitlements.  Controlling domestic discretionary spending should be the easy part, though.  Doing nothing will cause the size of government to double over the next five years at current spending levels, which could lead to an economic perfect storm of a devalued dollar, high interest rates and high inflation.”

While I’m a bit skeptical that the government could actually double in size in five years, Coburn makes a strong case for doing something. He says that waste and redundancy are glaringly obvious and he proposes to cut “…at least $120 billion by consolidating more than 640 duplicative government programs, cutting wasteful Washington spending, and returning billions of dollars of unspent money from agency coffers.” He offers several small examples:

For instance, our government funds:

  • 105 federal programs to encourage students to enter the fields of math and science.  Thirteen different federal agencies spend more $3 billion each year to fund these programs;
  • 44 job training programs administered by nine different federal agencies across the federal bureaucracy for $30 billion;
  • 69 early education programs administered by nine different agencies;
  • 23 federal housing programs that target or have special features for the elderly; and
  • 21 federal programs for childhood obesity.

The list goes on and many of these programs are well-intended.  Yet, if we really want to encourage math and science education, for instance, why not have one outstanding program instead of 105 overlapping and mediocre programs?

Good point, Tom. This generally happens because once a “program” is created, it will never die – even after it has proved to be a worthless, even sometimes damaging, waste of funds. The funding never stops. They just create a new one to address the failure of the old one(s) and chase good money after bad. The process continues ad infinitum, ad nauseum…

So, what can be done? Coburn is not hopeful about the direction congress is considering:

Unfortunately, Congress will likely resist any move toward restraint.  Many in Congress who understand that voters are upset about spending but lack the courage to consolidate programs will argue that we need to look to the debt commission sponsored by Senators Kent Conrad (D-ND) and Judd Gregg (R-NH) for leadership.

Evaluating programs and making tough budget choices is the most basic responsibility of every member of Congress.  If members find that job too hard, they should resign.

Yet, the 34 senators who support the commission fail to acknowledge that we already have a commission to set budget priorities.  It’s called the United States Congress.  If Congress lacks the political will to set priorities, we don’t need a new commission, we need a new Congress.

Right On!! I love this guy and I sincerely hope he will run for President in 2012.


2 Responses to “Why don’t we hear more about this guy?”

  1. […] is trying to engineer an end around the legislative process. (Story here) Republicans, led by Sen. Tom Coburn are not amused. …senior administration officials are considering a series of proposals known […]

  2. […] Hard to kill – government bureaucracy This story is a pretty good illustration (on a state level) of why government programs refuse to die – a point I made in a previous post. […]

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