Tom Coburn Leaves a Lonely Place Lonelier
Jan 17, 2014
A good man is leaving the Senate. Photographer: Brendan Smialowski/Bloomberg
You knew what might be coming when Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma announced in November that he had a recurrence of cancer. He managed for a long time with a triple threat — colon and prostate cancer and a benign brain tumor. He announced yesterday that he will leave at the end of this congressional session to spend the time he has left with his three children and seven grandchildren. It may be one of the only times when a politician says he wants to spend more time with his family and we know it is utterly the truth.
“Coburn has always had a gift for honesty. He didn’t need consultants to tell him how to be a senator. He had the white hair, all-American accent and a doctor’s wisdom of life and death, his vocation before politics. He talked to the president frequently but didn’t brag about it. His colleagues — fellow Republicans and Democrats — liked to have him around, even though he could be a thorn in both sides. He was often the first to be asked to join the various bipartisan “Gangs of.”…
… this decision isn’t about my health, my prognosis or even my hopes and desires.
“As a citizen, I am now convinced that I can best serve my own children and grandchildren by shifting my focus elsewhere. In the meantime, I look forward to finishing this year strong.”
Coburn, nicknamed “Dr No” for his voting record in the Senate, was supposed to serve through 2016. Instead, he’ll step down in January 2015. He had already vowed not to seek a third term.
Senate republican leader Mitch McConnell released a statement Thursday describing Coburn as “one of the most intelligent, principled and decent men in modern Senate history”.
“When it comes to the transcendent debate over the size and cost of government, Tom Coburn is simply without peer,” McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, said. “No one has done more to awaken Americans to the threat posed by a government that chronically spends more than it takes in, and no one has worked harder at finding a solution.”
Known as a conservative maverick during his three terms in the US House in the 1990s, Coburn continued that role after being elected to the Senate in 2004. A fierce critic of what he described as excessive government spending, Coburn was most vocal about opposing the earmarking of special projects.
His office routinely produced reports on wasteful spending, such as a 37-page report in 2011 dubbed Subsidies of the Rich and Famous that detailed nearly $30bn spent annually on government tax breaks and federal grant programs for millionaires….
There is more, and it IS an interesting read, here.
I first became aware of Senator Coburn because of his annual Waste Book, where he detailed the mind-boggling waste that could be painlessly cut from the American budget. Follow that link and see the 2013 edition. (For previous posts on Coburn here, just put his name in the search thing at top left.)
In December, upon release of the latest version of the chronicle of absurdities paid for by American tax dollars, there was this:
Coburn Releases Annual Wastebook Highlighting Most Egregious Spending of 2013
Dec 17 2013
(WASHINGTON, D.C.) — U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-OK), ranking member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, today released his annual oversight report “Wastebook 2013” highlighting 100 examples of wasteful and low-priority spending totaling nearly $30 billion.
“While politicians in Washington spent much of 2013 complaining about sequestration’s impact on domestic programs and our national defense, we still managed to provide benefits to the Fort Hood shooter, study romance novels, help the State Department buy Facebook fans and even help NASA study Congress,” said Dr. Coburn.
“Had Congress, in particular, been focused on doing its job of setting priorities and cutting the kind of wasteful spending outlined in this report, we could have avoided both a government shutdown and a flawed budget deal that was designed to avert a shutdown. The nearly $30 billion in questionable and lower-priority spending in Wastebook 2013 is a small fraction of the more than $200 billion we throw away every year through fraud, waste, duplication and mismanagement. There is more than enough stupidity and incompetence in government to allow us to live well below the budget caps. What’s lacking is the common sense and courage in Washington to make those choices — and passage of fiscally-responsible spending bills — possible,” said Dr. Coburn.
“This report speaks volumes about why confidence in government is at an all-time low. The hard truth is we’d much rather borrow than cut. The American people are right to expect more,” said Dr. Coburn.
Examples of wasteful spending highlighted in “Wastebook 2013” include:
Uncle Sam Looking for Romance on the Web — (NEH) $914,000
- To read the details of just this first entry – and many, many more – go over here.
- It should be obvious to anybody, that the current administration has NO idea how to manage Americans’ money (hard-earned dollars collected by the IRS by the way.) Now that Senator Coburn has announced his intention to leave, we need other voices raised to keep attention on the pigs at the trough.