Archive for the ‘Tom Coburn’ Category

A number of years back, I heard a joke, part of which I can’t remember. Still, I can remember enough of it to make a point. Historic military figures were looking at the Soviet Union’s military hardware. When the tanks rolled through Red Square, Alexander the Great replied, “If I had had these chariots, I would’ve ruled the entire world.” On his left stood Napoleon Bonaparte. After Napoleon read the current copy of Pravda, he replied “If I had this as the official newspaper, nobody would’ve heard of Waterloo.”

The point of the joke isn’t to get people laughing. It’s to make the point that there’s a more insidious type of Pravda operating inside the United States. For the last 5+ years, I’ve called that operation the Agenda Media. The Agenda Media doesn’t think it’s their responsibility to get people important facts. In their minds, their responsibility is to push their politicial agenda. If that means omitting important facts, that’s what they’re willing to do. This video is a perfect illustration of the Agenda Media’s selective editing:

Thankfully, citizen journalists with cell phones are recording things as they happened. Thankfully, citizen journalists with video cameras are informing people by filming protests like this, then posting the video to Youtube, then reposting the videos to their Facebook page, then posting the links to their videos to Twitter.

There’s a more important point to this. OFA isn’t just about protesting against constitutional conservatives. They’re identifying people in communities who might vote for progressives. Conservatives will show up to counterprotest against OFA. The big question is whether they’ll get into the neighborhoods and identify people that might appreciate the conservative/capitalist message.

Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, Tom Coburn, Ron Johnson, Paul Ryan and Rand Paul should be the blueprint for Republicans for 2014. They’re picking fights with President Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, which is essential to winning elections. They’re framing debates. For instance, Sen. Coburn is highlighting tens of billions of dollars of duplicative spending that should be eliminated in this budget. Sen. Johnson is highlighting how government is used as a weapon against the citizenry. Paul Ryan is fighting for a pro-growth budget that will eventually balance within a decade.

It’s despicable that the Agenda Media would distort what happened at a protest. As despicable as that is, that’s only part of this story. OFA is already identifying potential Democrat voters. Republicans need to start this week at identifying potential conservative voters.

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In a stunning, disappointing development, Sen. Franken and Sen. Klobuchar voted against restarting the White House tours:

Democrats objected, saying it was a show vote that was not going to accomplish what Mr. Coburn said it would. They also said canceling park service heritage money would hurt their home states.

They defeated Mr. Coburn’s amendment on a 54-45 vote, with nearly every Republican voting to reopen the White House and with almost all Democrats voting to back Mr. Obama’s decision.

It’s appalling that Sen. Franken and Sen. Klobuchar voted against opening the People’s House (that’s Michelle Obama’s term for the White House) to public tours. It’s disgusting that Sen. Franken and Sen. Klobuchar hid behind their ‘leadership’ in saying that Sen. Coburn’s amendment was a gimmick.

If anyone in the Senate has shown themselves to having solutions to DC’s spending addiction, it’s been Sen. Coburn. He’s literally found hundreds of billions of dollars of wasteful spending in the last 6 months. He’s put together charts showing duplicative federal programs worth $364.5 billion of spending. Some of the spending is justified. Most of it isn’t.

This is just another vote that shows Sen. Klobuchar is Ms. Bipartisanship. She’s a popular political partisan hack. People didn’t think that Sen. Franken was Mr. Bipartisanship. Still, Minnesotans had the right to expect him to protect them against this arrogant administration’s mishandling of sequestration.

This video shows how partisan Sen. Franken and Sen. Klobuchar are:

Rather than fighting for saving hundreds of millions of dollars, Sen. Franken and Sen. Klobuchar fought to keep White House tours closed. Why would they do that if they genuinely cared about the middle class? Some of these families that aren’t being permitted to take a White House tour might be on their first trip to DC. Perhaps some of them won’t have another opportunity to tour the White House.

That’s what Sen. Franken and Sen. Klobuchar voted against. They voted with the elitists in the White House. They voted against the working families who wanted to take a once-in-a-lifetime tour of the White House.

Based on Wednesday’s vote and their votes for the middle class tax increases in the PPACA, why shouldn’t people think that these senators don’t care about the middle class the way they say they do?

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Cut This, Not That is another name for Sen. Coborn’s Sequester This agenda. This video of his interview with FNC’s Brian Kilmeade should get every person upset regardless of their political affiliation:

There’s no such thing as acceptable wasteful spending. That critter doesn’t exist. If the taxpayers’ money isn’t being spent efficiently on high priority things, then it shouldn’t be spent.

Spending money on social media outreach is a travesty. Spending money on social media outreach instead of on air traffic controllers isn’t justifiable. Cutting White House tours instead of cutting “wine and beer train tours” is outrageous. These are decisions that we’re better off having a seventh grader make than letting this administration make.

President Obama has essentially said that spending cuts are off the table. How can he justify spending money on these things while laying off air traffic controllers and shutting down White House tours for students? The simple answer is he can’t justify these decisions.

In fact, the stench from shutting down the White House tours that Harry Reid actually called for a vote to open the White House tours. Unfortunately, Democrats voted to keep the tours closed:

Senators voted Wednesday to keep the White House closed to public tours, turning back a GOP-led effort to free up money to open the building back up after the sequesters.

The vote was just one of a series of high-profile votes the Senate was taking Wednesday afternoon as it plowed toward passage of a bill to fund the government through the rest of this fiscal year.

That’s fine. Now every Democrat will have to explain why they voted to keep “the People’s House” tours closed:

But Democrats objected, saying it was a show vote that was note going to accomplish what Mr. Coburn said it would. They also said canceling park service heritage money would hurt their home states.

They defeated Mr. Coburn’s amendment on a 54-45 vote, with nearly every Republican voting to reopen the White House and with almost all Democrats voting to back Mr. Obama’s decision.

Simply put, this was a good faith effort on behalf of Republicans to do what’s right by the people of this nation. Shutting “the People’s House” when it could’ve been avoided shows what the Democrats’ highest priority is. Hint: their highest priority isn’t making smart budgetary choices. Hint: The Democrats’ highest priority doesn’t have anything to do with doing what’s right by America’s young people.

Apparently, they’d rather vote against students getting tours of the White House than voting to cut truly disgusting wasteful spending. Apparently, they’d rather pretend that wisely cutting a pittance from the federal budget is crippling the federal government. The Senate Democrats’ hissy fit notwithstanding, the reality is that Sen. Coburn, Sen. Paul and Sen. Lee have dismantled the Democrats’ arguments that the federal budget has been cut to a shell of its former self.

As Sen. Coburn has clearly shown, there are tens of billions of dollars of wasteful spending that still need eliminating. This isn’t a fair fight. Despite the fact that Republican senators have exposed the waste, despite the fact that even the NY Times and Washington Post have turned against this administration and their Democrat enablers, Democrats still insist on fighting this fight. It’s a free country. If they want to get their brains bashed in some more, I guess that’s their right. Jay Carney seems particularly adept at peddling this manure:

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Bill Kristol’s article misses the point of Rand Paul’s filibuster. First, here’s part of what Kristol wrote about Paul’s filibuster:

On the other hand, Paul’s political genius strikes us as very much of the short-term variety. Will it ultimately serve him well to be the spokesman for the Code Pink faction of the Republican party? How much staying power is there in a political stance that requires waxing semihysterical about the imminent threat of Obama-ordered drone strikes against Americans sitting in cafés? And as for the other Republican senators who rushed to the floor to cheer Paul on, won’t they soon be entertaining second thoughts? Is patting Rand Paul on the back for his fearmongering a plausible path to the presidency for Marco Rubio or Ted Cruz? Is embracing kookiness a winning strategy for the Republican party? We doubt it.

This totally misreads what Rand Paul did. Sen. Paul’s filibuster was about defending the Constitution, nothing more, nothing less. Had Eric Holder said that presidents don’t have the constitutional authority to use a drone-fired missile on a US citizen on US soil, the filibuster never would’ve happened. If Mr. Kristol thinks that that qualifies Sen. Paul for the “Code Pink faction of the Republican Party”, he’d better quickly rethink that opinion.

The rest of Kristol’s paragraph is based on his misreading of Sen. Paul’s filibuster. Actually, it isn’t implausible to think that playing to the TEA Party “faction of the Republican Party” is a smart tactic for winning in 2016. That’s what Sen. Paul’s filibuster was about. Finally, there’s someone willing to stand up for the Constitution. Finally, there’s a Republican who’s willing to cut spending.

The past 2 weeks have been horrific weeks for President Obama. He tried intimidating the Republicans into another tax increase. He tried peddling the notion that reducing the size of the increase by $44,000,000,000 would cause poor children to starve, airplanes to drop from the sky and meat inspections to end until further notice.

And that’s before he cancelled White House tours that he said were the result of sequestration’s draconian cuts. Sen. Coburn and Sen. Lee have done a masterful job of highlighting the billions of dollars of wasteful spending in this year’s budget. While they were challenging President Obama on sequestration, Sen. Paul was challenging the Obama administration on the commander-in-chief’s authorities granted by the US Constitution.

As a result of these senators’ challenges, President Obama looks weaker than he did a month ago. His job approval ratine shows it, having dropped from 55% to 46%.

As for Sens. Cruz, Lee, Rubio, Toomey, Paul and Johnson, I’d argue that they’re part of the ‘picking smart fights faction of the GOP’. That’s the wing of the GOP that I’ll enthusiastically associate with.

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Rep. Keith Ellison has fought a ‘valiant’ fight to protect wasteful government spending:

“If we can’t find a solution before these cuts hit, we should eliminate it altogether,” said Jeremy Slevin, a spokesman for Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), a co-chair of the progressive caucus.

“Our preference is to have a balanced approach to get [a] one-to-one” ratio of program cuts to revenue raising, Slevin went on. “But short of that we don’t think under any circumstances that the American people should lose their jobs because of Congress.”

The Goverment Accountability Office, aka the GAO, has identified 1,362 duplicative programs in the federal budget. According to GAO, $364.5 billion are spent on these duplicative programs. I transcribed part of Sen. Coburn’s “Sequester This” speech for this Examiner article. Here’s the key paragraph from that article:

SEN. COBURN: Next one, housing assistance. We have 160 programs, separate programs. Nobody knows if they’re working. Nobody in the administration knows all the programs. I’m probably the only person in Congress that does because nobody else has looked at it. Twenty different agencies. We’re spending $170 billion. If we’re really interested in housing assistance, why would we have 20 sets of overhead, 20 sets of administration? And what would it cost to accomplish the same thing?

That’s insane. It’s impossible to justify 160 duplicate programs. It’s totally impossible to justify intentionally establishing “20 sets of overhead, 20 sets of administration.”

Despite this stunning fact, Rep. Ellison’s spokesman insists on raising taxes or repealing the sequester.

Sen. Franken isn’t exactly a profile in courage when it comes to putting a budget together or cutting spending without gimmicks. Here’s part of Sen. Franken’s letter to Sen. Patty Murray:

Meaningful deficit reduction is critical and necessary, and our budget resolution must reflect tough choices and tough cuts. Deficit reduction must be achieved in a commonsense way that doesn’t just shift costs to our seniors, or parents raising children with disabilities. That’s why deficit reduction efforts should maintain a balance between targeted spending cuts and new revenues from closing tax loopholes that benefit corporations and wealthy individuals.

Sen. Franken, like Rep. Ellison, voted to raise taxes when he voted for the PPACA. That dynamic duo voted for raising tax rates on small businesses when they voted for the Obama ‘Fiscal Cliff’ tax increases. The payroll tax holiday tax increase went into effect the same day the PPACA tax increases went into effect. Now they’re demanding another (fourth) tax increase to hit the American people in less than 3 months.

Nowhere do they mention the duplicate programs and wasteful spending from the GAO report. That’s the definition of being MIA during the sequestration fight. Unfortunately, this isn’t surprising for either ‘public servant’. Neither has voted in committee for a budget since early in President Obama’s first term.

What’s most disappointing is the fact that Twin Cities media outlets haven’t asked why Sen. Franken and Rep. Ellison have fought tirelessly to protect government bureaucrats while they waste taxpayers’ money.

By comparison, Sen. Coburn has been persistent in highlighting the ways government wastes money:

I wish we could trade in Sen. Franken and Rep. Ellison for a real public servant like Sen. Coburn.

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Lost in this conversation about sequestration is the thing that should be the most important point. In fact, it should be the only point in the conversation. President Obama has consistently insisted on raising taxes more. Reporters have called him on his scare tactics but they haven’t questioned him on why he hasn’t submitted a bill that acts on the duplicative programs throughout the federal budget.

This weekend, I wrote this article about federal spending on autopilot and this article about how the federal government doesn’t require federal programs to determine whether they’re doing their jobs or if they’re even attempting to measure outcomes.

Tom Coburn did a fantastic job of laying out all the ridiculous spending at the federal level. He explained how many duplicative programs exist within the federal government and how each of those programs comes with their separate administrations and separate sets of overhead, all of which wastes taxpayers’ money.

Why aren’t reporters questioning President Obama about why they aren’t even looking at those expenditures? If President Obama isn’t available to answer those questions, they should ask Jay Carney. If Mr. Carney doesn’t have the answer at his press briefing, these reporters should insist that he find the answers for the next day’s briefing.

From the start of his administration, President Obama has refused to accept responsibility for his policies. He’s refused to be transparent. This past Friday, President Obama tried to make it sound like people outside his administration were predicting the Apocalypse. Here’s what he said:

“This is not going to be an apocalypse, I think, as some people have said,” Obama declared (not mentioning that his administration had been behind most of the apocalypse talk). “It’s just dumb. And it’s going to hurt.”

Ray Lahood, President Obama’s Transportation Secretary, talked about furloughing air traffic controllers. Arne Duncan, President Obama’s Education Secretary talked about how teachers were already getting pink slips for next fall as a result of sequestration. President Obama himself said that the White House janitorial staff was getting forced into accepting a pay cut as a result of sequestration.

But I digress.

I suspect that President Obama isn’t serious about cutting spending because his central focus isn’t on implementing great policies. It’s about winning political battles. It’s time the White House press corps insisted that Jay Carney answer why this administration won’t cut the foolish spending Sen. Coburn has highlighted.

If this administration won’t implement those spending cuts, then we’ll have confirmation this administration isn’t serious about cutting the deficit, much less balancing the budget.

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The first part of this series dealt with Sen. Coburn’s criticism of the money being wasted on housing programs. Sen. Coburn’s criticism focused on the duplicative and overlapping programs, the overlapping jurisdictions between agencies and the overhead involved in administering these programs.

This part deals with the grant programs from the DoJ:

Here’s the transcript from Sen. Coburn’s presentation on the DoJ grant programs:

SEN. COBURN: Department of Justice grants. Now the Department of Justice is the only agency in the federal government that, if they don’t spend all their money, they get to keep that it. Most people don’t know that. They have 253 different grant programs and, outside of the Department of Justice, there are 9 other agencies involved in that. Most of them, these programs, these grant programs, don’t have any metrix, any measurement to say whether they’re accomplishing the things that the Congress established for them to accomplsish in the first place. So if, in fact, a prudent person were to say ‘We have these grant programs. What are they doing, what are they supposed to be doing and how are they measuring up?’, we don’t know because we don’t require the federal government to measure how effectiveness of their programs.

President Obama, Sen. Reid and Minority Leader Pelosi continue to pretend that there isn’t a penny’s worth of wasteful spending left in the federal budget. Technically, they’re right. They’re right in the sense that there’s tens of billions of dollars of wasteful spending left in the federal budget.

That leads to these important questions:

  • If there are tens of billions of dollars of wasteful spending left in the federal budget, who are President Obama, Sen. Reid and Minority Leader Pelosi protecting?
  • If there are tens of billions of dollars of wasteful spending left in the federal budget, why do President Obama, Sen. Reid and Minority Leader Pelosi insist that the only solution to this crisis is another tax increase?

There’s no justification for increasing taxes for a fourth time this year. Thus far, Americans have gotten hit with a tax increase when the payroll tax holiday expired on New Year’s Eve. The next morning, the tax increases from the Affordable Care Act kicked in. A day later, Congress passed a $600 billion tax increase on “the rich.”

After all thos hundreds of billions of dollars of tax increases, President Obama, Sen. Reid and Minority Leader Pelosi insist that the solution to their spending addiction is…another tax increase? Seriously?

President Obama, Sen. Reid and Minority Leader Pelosi insist on another tax increase to feed their spending addiction. That’s the only explanation that makes sense. They certainly haven’t shown any interest in making sure the taxpayers’ money is spent wisely. They certainly haven’t shown an interest in getting the deficits under control. There’s no denying the fact that President Obama and his administration have tried painting the most horrific picture imaginable.

Remember Arne Duncan insisting that teachers were already getting pink slips as a result of sequestration? Or Ray Lahood inisisting that waiting lines at airport check-ins would be longer? Better yet, remember President Obama telling the White House press corps that janitors in the White House would have their pay cut if sequestration went into effect?

There’s no reason to trust anything that trio of politicians say about taxes or spending. They’re proven themselve to be totally dishonest.

The most disgusting thing in the GAO report is the fact that, in instance after instance, there isn’t a metrix to measure whether the programs are doing what they’re supposed to be doing or whether they’re spending money efficiently.

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In late January, Sen. Tom Coburn, (R-OK), took to the Senate floor to expose how inefficient the federal government is. This video exposes the lowest of low-hanging fruit:

This isn’t Sen. Coburn’s entire presentation/exposition. This is about 4 minutes from a 40 minute presentation. This presentation is useful because of the principles Sen. Coburn lays out in terms of chopping overhead, improving efficiency and making it easier for the federal government to measure whether these programs are doing what they’re supposed to do.

Here’s a hint to House and Senate Republicans and to superPACs that insist on fiscal sanity: Sen. Coburn’s presentation should be their message until we’re running annual surpluses. If I were advising Republicans, I’d tell them this is a winning issue because thoughtful people, whether they’re fiscal conservatives, fiscal moderates or independents, like seeing huge amounts of money being spent foolishly. And this money is being spent exceptionally foolishly.

Here’s the part of Sen. Coburn’s presentation that should get everyone upset with the federal government’s inefficiencies:

Next one, housing assistance. We have 160 programs, separate programs. Nobody knows if they’re working. Nobody in the administration knows all the programs. I’m probably the only person in Congress that does because nobody else has looked at it. Twenty different agencies. We’re spending $170 billion. If we’re really interested in housing assistance, why would we have 20 sets of overhead, 20 sets of administration? And what would it cost to accomplish the same thing? All these numbers come from the Government Accountability Office, by the way. They don’t come from me. And the other part of the report is that nobody knows if these programs are working. We have no data to say that we’re actually making a difference on housing assistance through this expenditure of money. So we’re not even asking the most basic of questions that a prudent person would ask.

That’s stunning and appalling. It’s one thing to spend $170 billion. It’s another to spend $170 billion without having a method to determine whether spending that $170 billion is having a positive impact.

There’s no justification for not periodically auditing programs to see if these programs are doing what they’re supposed what they’re supposed to be doing. There’s especially no justification to being disinterested in seeing whether they’re efficiently doing their job so the taxpayers’ money isn’t being spent foolishly.

Sen. Coburn is a patriot. He’s the first person to put together a detailed blueprint of how the federal government wastes tens of billions of dollars a year. He’s the first person to show how this administration didn’t take the time to make sure those tens of billions of dollars were being spent efficiently.

The thing that’s infuriating is that President Obama is still pretending that he’s interested in solving our deficit crisis. With this mountain of proof that the taxpayers’ money is getting spent foolishly, it’s impossible to take President Obama seriously.

When Arne Duncan, his education secretary insists that teachers have already gotten pink slips as a direct result of sequestration, people should ridicule him. When Ray Lahood insists that people will experience longer wait times as a direct result of sequestration, people should ridicule him.

When President Obama insinuates that his administration has cut the budget to the bare essentials, people, especially in the White House press corps, should ridicule him.

Based on Sen. Coburn’s presentation, this administration hasn’t even scratched the surface on getting rid of wasteful government spending. In fact, it isn’t difficult to make the case that this administration isn’t even mildly interested in eliminating wasteful government spending.

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