Tuesday, July 28, 2015

USA Today: Senator Tom Coburn: 'A Deficit of Debt Discussion'

Source:USA Today- former U.S. Senator Tom Coburn (Republican, Oklahoma) 2005-13.
Source:The New Democrat 

"The 2016 presidential race is beginning in earnest with new candidates entering the crowded field weekly. The Republican Party boasts a host of compelling and well qualified aspirants, many of whom I have known and served with for years. They bring a wealth of experience and policy savvy to a nation sorely in need of a rebound following the many failures of the federal government during the Obama presidency.

Yet despite their numbers, none of them is addressing in a meaningful way the greatest threat to our republic: our gigantic and rapidly growing national debt.  America’s cumulative borrowing is rapidly approaching $20 trillion, while the federal government's unfunded liabilities (future expenditures minus future tax revenue) now exceed a whopping $127 trillion — better than $1.1 million per taxpayer.

That’s not merely unsustainable; it’s suicidal.

Following a similarly risky path, Greece has now defaulted on its obligations, sending a shock wave through financial markets around the world. This was a crisis that could have been avoided through sound fiscal policy, but the Greek government has for years lacked the political will to do what it takes to secure that nation’s financial health. The nightly news showcases the unfolding Greek tragedy as though it were another TV reality show. A country on the verge of collapse, full steam ahead on a similar trajectory as the American economy — and journalists are largely silent.

Closer to home, Puerto Rico teeters on the edge of financial ruin and risks enormous damage to municipal bond funds and other instruments relied on by millions of Americans to help protect their long-term financial security.

Let’s be clear: The United States must end the cycle of endless and unsustainable debt that we’ve seen elsewhere around the world, or it will face the same fate as other nations before us." 

From USA Today 

"Both parties have equally participated in abandoning the limited role of the federal government," says Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Oklahoma), whose new book, The Debt Bomb: A Bold Plan to Stop Washington from Bankrupting Our Economy, argues that Republicans and Democrats together have brought the U.S. to the brink of fiscal calamity.

First elected to the house in 1994 as part of the "Republican Revolution," Coburn is a staunch fiscal and social conservative, who's been outspokenly critical of members of his own party for compromising their principles out of political expedience. Coburn has publicly taken former House Speaker Newt Gingrich to task for lacking leadership and resolve during his battles with the Clinton White House to cut spending in the mid-90s.

Coburn, who's known in the senate as "Dr. No" for vetoing almost all new spending initiatives, says the federal budget is rife with "waste, fraud, and duplication." In 2006, Coburn co-sponsored legislation that created USASpending.gov, which makes publicly accessible a list of all recipients of government funds. In 2010, Coburn was instrumental in getting the Government Accountability Office to undertake researching and documenting wasteful government programs.

A supporter of a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, Coburn was a co-author of the Partial-Birth Abortion Act of 2003, and he supported a 1996 law requiring that "V-chips" be placed in all television sets to allow parents to block programming deemed unsuitable. In 1997, Coburn criticized NBC for airing the Holocaust-film "Schindler's List" on the grounds that it included "vile language, full-frontal nudity and irresponsible sexual activity." NBC characterized Coburn's views as "frightening."

Source:Reason Magazine- U.S. Senator Tom Coburn (Republican, Oklahoma) talking to Reason Magazine in 2012.

From Reason Magazine

This is the main reason why I wish Senator Coburn at least finished his last term in the Senate. But he is dealing with serious health issues right now and it's easy to see why he stepped down. But he was one of the few people in Congress that actually understood the threat of the national debt to the American economy, but also knew what to do to actually fix those issues. That you weren’t going to get our debt under control simply by cutting programs and benefits for people in poverty. Or raising their taxes. That you had to look at entitlements, tax reform, the military budget and economic growth and get more people working. Which is where infrastructure and tax reform come in.

This is also one reason why we need a real third-party in America. A party that could speak to forty-percent of the country that doesn’t like the Democratic Party, or the Republican Party. A party that could get twenty-percent or more of the popular vote and perhaps even win some states. And challenge Republicans and Democrats in Congress. Like the old Ross Perot United We Stand movement. A real Independence Party that at the very least could at least bring Democrats and Republicans to the table when it comes to our financial issues. And move them away from their talking points and their partisan attacks. Right now, Democrats don’t want to talk about the debt and deficit. Other than taxing the rich and hoping that revenue doesn’t leave the country.

Republicans, like to talk about debt and deficits. But the problem is that’s all that they do. They say vote for them and they'll cut wasteful Washington spending. But won’t lay out where’s the waste in the Federal budget that they would cut. They say if you cut business taxes and regulations that would jumpstart economic growth in America. And that we have the highest corporate tax rate in the developed world. Which technically is true, but the huge factor that they leave out is that we have a substantial corporate welfare budget. All sorts taxpayer-funded subsides that the Bowls-Simpson Debt Commission that Senator Coburn was a member of in 2010 called tax expenditures. But you don’t tend to hear Republicans talking about cutting corporate welfare.

As long as the two parties and their bases that are in charge of the Federal Government essentially hate each other, we are not going to get a real debt reduction plan out of Congress and singed by the President whoever that President is. Why? Because what we need to do to fix our financial affairs will mean real sacrifices. And the longer we wait the more sacrifice there will be for more people.

A tax code, with lower rates, including on business’s. But where a lot of the loopholes are gone.

A military budget that won’t be responsible for financing the national defense of other developed countries.

An entitlement system, where people who are wealthy will be expected to pay more. And where everyone who can will be expected to work longer.

A public assistance system, where people collecting public assistance who can and aren’t disabled will be expected to work their way off of Welfare all together.

And no presidential candidate wants to ask Americans to do these things right now. Because it would mean risking votes from people who depend on all of these government benefits right now for their way of life. Which is a big problem with our Federal budget right now. That it is mostly about military and financial subsidies for people who can’t seem to live without them. Instead of creating a society, an economy and public assistance system where people are empowered and expected to be able to take care of themselves. Unless they are physically, or mentally disabled.

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