By Steve Fair
Next Monday, Senator Tom Coburn, M.D. will announce whether he will seek re-election in 2010. Now more than ever, not just Oklahoma, but America, needs Senator Coburn! Coburn will make the announcement at “The Monday Meeting” in New York City. The monthly meeting has brought together the right wing of the city's financial and intellectual elite-among the regulars are major Republican donors and members of The Wall Street Journal 's editorial board. The meeting's fund-raising clout is informal, but fearsome. The fact that Coburn will make the announcement there gives conservatives hopeful expectations Coburn will run for re-election.
Coburn is not your run of the mill politician. He really doesn’t want to be in Washington. Dr. Tom wants to be an Okie in Muskogee practicing medicine. When the U.S. Senate Ethics Committee (a contradiction in itself) after he was elected to the Senate told Coburn that he would have to quit delivering babies for free, he ignored them. The committee contended that Coburn could be “influenced” by his patients, even though Coburn received no compensation for delivering the babies. In fact, Dr. Tom paid his malpractice insurance premiums out of his own pocket.
Senator Coburn did not go to Washington to go along to get along. He has used the Senate rules to his and the American taxpayer’s advantage. Because traditional Senate rules allow a single Senator to put a “hold” on legislation for any reason, Coburn has been a thorn in the side for all big spenders in DC. A Senator may place a hold simply to review a bill, to negotiate changes to the bill, or to kill the bill. A bill can be held for as long as the Senator who objects to the bill wishes to block its consideration.
Coburn put a “hold” on so many spending bills that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D, Nevada created the “Coburn Omnibus” bill- actually 36 bills in one. The bill was a package-spending bill that according to Coburn contained “tons of waste and tons of new programs that we don’t have the money for.”
And it’s not just the Democrats that have felt heat because Senator Coburn is in the Senate. Everyone is now familiar with the infamous “Bridge to Nowhere,” championed by then Senator Ted Stevens, but if Coburn is not in the Senate, it’s highly likely the bridge would have funded and built.
In an August 2, 2008 article entitled, Coburn or Stevens, The Wall Street Journal stated, “They (the GOP) may not like it, but Mr. Coburn is showing Republicans how the GOP can return to its small government roots. Consider Ronald Reagan, who in 1987 vetoed a highway bill because it had a mere 121 earmarks in it. Reagan quoted a letter that Thomas Jefferson wrote to James Madison in 1796, warning that allowing Congress to spend federal money for local projects would set off "a scene of scramble among the members (for) who can get the most money wasted in their State, and they will always get most who are meanest." Reagan didn't think that represented good government or good politics. Republicans today should heed his warning.”
Back in December 2007, President Bush proposed lowering down payment requirements to help the FHA to insure bigger mortgages in high-cost states. Bush said, “This bill could allow the FHA to reach an additional 250,000 families who could not otherwise qualify for prime-rate financing.”
Coburn disagreed, saying the bill was not the “proper response to the housing crisis” since it would increase government-backed mortgages and increase the government’s liability by an estimated $1.6 billion. Talk about prophetic!
“I am not a go-along, get along guy if I think it is the wrong way to go,” Coburn says. “I am O.K. taking the consternation of my colleagues. I take my oath seriously.”
Life without Coburn in the Senate would be a step backward. Even the more conservative Republicans don’t have the iron rail up the shirttail to do what Coburn will do. The Senate would go back to business as usual in the most exclusive club in the world. Dr. No is needed more now than ever. Let’s hope and pray Coburn is willing to make the sacrifice for another six years- for Oklahoma and America!