Newsletter June 10, 2010
The Senate returned this week to consider a bill to extend several popular programs and benefits set to expire. This bill, known as an “extender bill”, includes an extension of unemployment benefits, several tax provisions, and a reimbursement rate adjustment for doctors who see Medicare patients. It has active support by various constituencies. Its cost will add at least $77 billion to our budget deficit.
This bill, like so many, includes provisions to address real problems. Yet, members of Congress fail to consider how the current budget crisis is compounded daily by their unwillingness to make tough choices about spending priorities.
For example, earlier this year Congress passed a bill to require that new spending be offset so as not to add to our debt. Yet, it has already passed at least a quarter of a trillion dollars in violation of these rules.
This time, Congress will not be able to spend us out of our problem.
Again, Congress will violate its rules this week and next as it seeks to pass the popular extenders bill without making cuts to lower priority programs.
Do you ever ask yourself why congressional leaders in both parties have historically and consistently tried to avoid any real discussion of spending cuts? It is because those who hope to make a career in politics run from any conversation about the need for tough, specific cuts to existing federal programs.
In my five and half years in the Senate, I have seen Congress repeatedly authorize new programs that already existed throughout the federal bureaucracy. Educated men and women in both parties have made the argument that we must continue funding failing and duplicative programs, because “we have already invested so much in it.”
Most professional politicians see a problem and think spend. Well, the painful reality we face today--$13 trillion in debt and hundreds of duplicative, unaccountable programs—dictates a new course. This time, Congress will not be able to spend us out of our problem.
When the Senate turns its attention to the “extenders” bill this week, I will continue to challenge my colleagues to consider this harsh reality. As I have done throughout the last five years, I will offer specific, researched spending cuts that will pay for the new spending if enacted. Not everyone will agree with my suggestions, so it is my hope that others will be prepared to offer their own ideas.
With more than 10 percent of our entire federal budget documented as wasteful, fraudulent, or duplicative the debate should not lack for alternatives.
In The News
GOP Senator Says Testimony by Court Nominees Can’t Be Trusted
“Coburn criticized Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Obama’s first high court appointment, for language in a majority opinion she recently joined that invoked international law in a decision limiting life sentences for defendants who committed crimes as juveniles.” Continue reading… http://www.cqpolitics.com/wmspage.cfm?docID=cqmidday-000003679471
Obama Administration Embarks on Public Relations Campaign to Sell Health Care Law
“Coburn, R-Muskogee, said the president was mounting a 'taxpayer-funded campaign' to try to change people's minds about the law. The reality is that more seniors are already having trouble getting access to physicians, Coburn said.” Continue reading…
A recent study estimates that office printing by federal employees (not for official publications) costs taxpayers $1.3 billion annually. More than a third, $440 million is classified as unnecessary.