Eliminating Wasteful Spending

With a national debt of more than $12 trillion (that’s more than $40,000 for every person), career politicians are bankrupting future generations. Dr. Coburn has offered hundreds of amendments to cut needless spending.

Dr. Coburn is recognized as the leader in the fight against pork barrel spending. Not only has he prevented hundreds of millions of dollars of waste from being signed into law, he has made the public aware of the irresponsible spending of politicians.

“Earmark Watchdog”-- Dr. Coburn’s efforts have helped to shine a light on the secretive practice of special interest earmark spending and the corrupting influence it has on representative government. Dr. Coburn, who has successfully identified earmarks as “the gateway drug to overspending” and has exposed the now infamous “Bridge to Nowhere” in Alaska and the Woodstock Museum in New York, has prevented hundreds of earmarks from ever becoming law. His efforts have led to important reforms in the earmarking process and prompted a public outcry against this abusive practice. Of note, he successfully defeated an earmark to create a museum commemorating the Woodstock music concert in New York and a $246 million dollar earmark for Hollywood moviemakers.

“The Hotline”—Few American realize that the Senate passes more than 90 percent of its legislative business undemocratically without debate, amendment, or recorded vote. This process, called the Senate hotline process or Unanimous Consent, allows Senate leadership to quietly pass legislation by simply notifying (with an e-mail or recorded phone call) each Senator or his senior staff of bills they propose to pass. If no senator raises concerns (“holds” the bill), the bill passes with no further discussion and no recorded vote. Remaining quiet is considered a “yes” for the bill. Billions of our tax dollars are allocated in this way, with no opportunity for the public to review the legislation in advance.

At the start of the 109th Congress, Dr. Coburn sent a letter to every member of the Senate notifying them that he would not give his consent (“yes”) to any bill being considered under this process that either increased spending without first reducing lower priority spending elsewhere, created duplicative programs, or increased the federal share of any project.

Dr. Coburn’s willingness to say “no” has prevented billions in new spending, the creation of many new federal programs, and forced the Senate to debate important spending measures in the open.

Challenging Federal Agency Waste

Largely though oversight activities, Dr. Coburn has successfully challenged many wasteful practices common throughout the federal bureaucracy. His efforts to expose hundreds of millions of dollars in frivolous agency spending for conferences and related travel to vacation spots have led to important reforms that are saving money and workplace productivity.

The Senate has adopted amendments authored by Dr. Coburn that now prevent the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security from paying performance bonuses to contractors who failed to meet contractual performance obligations. Sadly, billions have been lost as agencies awarded performance bonuses for incomplete or incompetent work. Dr. Coburn is now leading a similar effort to end abusive no-bid contracting by federal agencies that prevents competitive bidding and wastes billions in tax dollars.
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