Sen. Tom Coburn on Possible Gov’t ShutdownApril 6, 2011
>> we are joined by senator tom coburn from the republican party, i want to give you two seconds, you don’t believe me, i can’t talk for two seconds, i will attempt as to why i find this whole thing so absurd. we have trillions of dollars in problems, we know this health care, i mentioned. right? at the same time, we have a bunnell debate which could be a debate about why health care costs so much, what are we spending on these wars? what is going on with the energy infrastructure what is going on on the banking systems, none of those things — social security, not happening. instead, as i see it the bunnell debate has been taken up as a political prop, fearmongering, oh, my goodness, what happens if we don’t deal with the budget as a which to play games funding for politically unpopular or popular things ranging from the epa to planned parenthood or whatever else nothing to do with the budget but the budget debate such a great opportunity to, well, create these distractions and in the process, avoid the budget debate. the budget debate, right? joining us, tom coburn from oklahoma. my bet, senator, you don’t disagree with what i said too much.
>> not too much.
>> what do we do about it? in other words, how do we — forget are we gonna shut it down, shut it down, how do we the media, you the senators oh people that have power in this conversation force a reframing of this conversation?
>> well, i think you put it in perspective in terms of amount of the cuts. if you are spending $2,000 a month family on basic necessity and take the kind of cuts we are talking about you know, you cut less than $10 out of your budget. so we are not talking about large amounts. the problem is negotiating — you know, the whole problem, dylan with our whole political system is everybody’s worried about politics and not the policy. and we need real leadership to step up at every level to address the policy questions that have put our country at risk. and you know, they have already offered a total of 33 billion. i don’t know why they couldn’t take one that has another 12 and you’re two-thirds of way what they have already offered. i don’t know. to me, i don’t think there is anybody that wants the government to get shut down and so what we ought to say is hey, guys, cool it with the politics, work on the policy for our country and our future.
>> if they were to do that, wouldn’t we see a real debate about had health care, which is costing us a fortune through noncompetitive monopoly tied to the employer based system from the ’40s? wouldn’t we see a real debate about the various subsidies and mistries prycing of energy from oil to natural gas, wind, coal, everything man manipulated one way or the other, inefficiencies, et cetera. i don’t care if they do a deal at 50 billion, 70 billion or 10 billion, it doesn’t solve our problems.
>> you’re right that debate isn’t about to start until we get the cr out of the way. we have only cult government spending three times since world war ii. one is in ’95, last two in the last month. let’s take what we can get, come together, get the best deal for the american people, recognizing we have a president that doesn’t want to cut that much spending and the democratic senate that doesn’t want to cut that much spending and then let get on to the real topics about saving our country.
>> am i too cynical to look at this point at this specific debate, senator, as having ultimately resulted in a political agendai to attack certainly politically unpopular things, whether it is the epa, planned parenthood, or whatever, which by the way, may be subject for val did debate, maybe we shouldn’t be funding broadcasting when the internet exists? what are we doing? it is 20 century but nothing to do with our budget debit. instead, we take the hot-button i shall be use like planned parenthood and epa and all this nonsense and exploit the budget debate an opportunity to take a whack at those things which some people don’t like?
>> the one thing i have learned in my years here, there’s one reason to talk about something, if you want to talk about it to create a political climate. there’s another — common sense way is what can i really get done? what’s the realities of the situation? and my recommendation to my friends in the house is, you know, it’s highly unlikely many riders are going to get passed with a democrat president and democrat senate so why don’t you take the spending and let’s get on to the budget. paul ryan did put out one plan yesterday which i congratulate him on that actually addresses the real issues in front of our country. you may not agree with it but he is the only guy out there with a plan.
>> a least he is following try to create a framing debait around the trillion-dollar problem which is we can begin a debate around.
>> that’s right. and what we lack, and i say this in all sincerity, we lack the courage of our elected leaders to stand and lose to do the right thing and you know what you find is a paradox in politics. if you really talk about the hard choices that are in front of us and have to make them, otherwise, ben bernanke is going to steal our future through inflation and low interest rates and a net loss in our retirement funds and a net loss in our asset values, let’s don’t go there. let’s not have that. and so, i really think we need to be thinking longer term. we need to be talking about the big issues but not going to get that done until we get past the cr.
>> let’s be honest, we have a structural problem, i agree with the assessment, the political courage necessary to engage whether it is a real health care reform, real banking reform, real energy reform, real defense policy reform, i can, as a politician, if i decide to run, excuse my language, but i can kick your butt by simply rolling up and saying crazy tom coburn or crazy whoever, i don’t care a democrat or republican, wants to raise the cost of your gasoline, an easy thing to mark when i start talking about energy policy, take away your health care.
>> i disagree with that.
>> tell me y.
>> because if, in fact, people campaign on sincere issues about what they think, you know, i have had all this stuff thrown at me and my constituency doesn’t believe it because they know i’m a dead-serious individual. so it’s whether you plate game. i refuse to play that game. and if i won’t play that game it can’t be used against me.
>> at the same time, how do we punish that behavior as opposed to reward it in the system, as we are now?
>> the reason that that can happen is because politicians don’t stand on principle and run on politics all the time. people are looking for leaders, they are looking for statesmen, stateswomen. they are looking for people to do the right thing at the right time for the right reason. and when we reason continue to have career politician that’s my word, i’m critical of the system that put people in positions of power who have very little experience to make judgments about the critical i shall be use of the day, other than that they have been in politics for 30 years so if we have real people run for real office outside of it we will stop that. and we will have our real issues addressed. not about whether the republicans or democrats win. right now, our country is in trouble and everybody will suffer if we don’t attack the real problems.
>> i mean, at this point, yeah, you and i could talk all afternoon. i will let you go now, senator, i thank you for the conversation, let’s see what happens on this budget debate and get after it on the trillion dollar front. love of that debate with you. senator