This article was first published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, December 20th, 2013:
In his press release announcing the publication of his annual “Wastebook” summarizing 100 examples of egregious, wasteful, and outrageous government spending, Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn tried to make himself appear “holier than thou” by distancing himself from the rolling disaster in Washington:
While politicians in Washington [those guys over there, but not me!] spent much of 2013 complaining about sequestration’s impact on domestic programs and our national defense, we still managed to provide benefits to the Fort Hood shooter, study romance novels, help the State Department buy Facebook fans, and even help NASA study Congress….
What’s lacking is the common sense and courage in Washington to make those choices – and passage of fiscally-responsible bills – possible.
The implication here is that Coburn himself is free from sin and that the fault lies elsewhere. In an interview with CBS News’ Nancy Cordes where he was promoting his book, he asked rhetorically:
Coburn: Where was the adult in the room when this was going on?
Cordes: Have you ever gotten any traction in Congress, where members say “We’re actually going to get rid of this?”
Coburn: No. They [those guys over there] don’t pay attention to it. It’s hard work to get rid of junk. It’s hard work to do oversight. It’s hard work to hold agencies responsible.
And so what they would rather do is look good at home, get reelected, and continue to spend money, and that’s Republicans and Democrats alike.
Uh huh. Coburn is pure as the driven snow. It’s too bad that Cordes didn’t follow up with this question:
Cordes: How does your effort, then, and your voting record, separate you from them? Doesn’t this Wastebook of yours cost a lot of taxpayer money? Isn’t this part of your attempt to look good at home while providing cover for your own votes for some of these projects? Isn’t this part of your attempt to continue to get reelected?
Unfortunately she never asked, and consequently he never was forced to answer. But his voting record is instructive. In July 2007, Coburn gained notoriety for accusing then-Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska of pork barreling and earmarking millions in taxpayer funds for a special project that would benefit his son’s employer. At the time, newspapers in Nebraska and Oklahoma took pains to point out that Coburn failed to mention similar pork barreling and earmarking that he did for special projects for his own state of Oklahoma.
In May 2012, Coburn voted for H.R. 2072 to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank with increased funding limits backed by taxpayer monies from $100 billion to $140 billion. This vote was so outrageous for the self-styled “conservative” that the analysts at the Freedom Index included it among the votes used to measure his performance. They pointed out that the federal government, first of all, has no constitutional authority to risk taxpayers’ funds “to provide loans the private sector considers too risky to provide.” Furthermore, the Ex-Im Bank is corporate welfare, just like so many of those Coburn is railing against in his “Wastebook”:
Indeed, U.S. government-backed export financing is a form of corporate welfare, and if the Ex-Im Bank goes bust (as happened to Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae), the taxpayers will get stuck holding the bag.
This explains why “Dr. No” and “Mr. Conservative” from Oklahoma gets only an 82 rating out of a possible 100. This compares favorably to other well-known “conservatives” such as John Boehner (FI:53) and John McCain (FI:63), but is a far cry from the holy and pure stance Coburn purports to present. And a far cry from what is needed to bring spending back under control and draw America back from the precipice.
Some of Coburn’s examples are beyond comprehension. Here’s a sampler:
The Popular Romance Project has received nearly $1 million from the National Endowment of the Humanities (NEH) since 2010 to “explore the fascinating, often contradictory origins and influences of popular romance as told in novels, films, comics, advice books, songs, and internet fan fiction….
The military has destroyed more than 170 million pounds worth of useable vehicles and other military equipment [in Afghanistan] … rather than sell it or ship it back home….
In January, 2013, Congress passed a bill to provide $60.4 billion for [victims of] Hurricane Sandy. However, instead of rushing aid to the people who need it most, state-level officials … spent [$65 million of it] on tourism-related TV ads….
Since NASA is no longer conducting space flights, they have plenty of time and money to fund … the “Green Ninja,” in which a man dressed in a Green Ninja costume teaches children about global warming.
There are others, including a million dollars of federal funds spent to build a bus stop in Virginia. There’s the five million spent for customized crystal stemware. And so on.
Two things are missing in Coburn’s study: not a single mention of Constitutional restraints that would greatly reduce such waste, nor any mention that such spending into bankruptcy is part of a plan.
Back in 1958, when Coburn was just 10 years old, a candy maker by the name of Robert Welch spoke for three days to some friends about the direction the country was headed, and that the direction was part of a plan to impoverish the country and surrender it to an international cabal. According to Mr. Welch, part one of that plan was
Greatly expanded government spending for every conceivable means of getting rid of ever larger sums of American money as wastefully as possible.
Other parts included:
Higher and then much higher taxes….
An increasingly unbalanced budget despite the higher taxes….
Greatly increased socialistic controls over every operation of our economy and every activity of our daily lives. This is to be accompanied naturally and automatically by a correspondingly huge increase in the size of our bureaucracy and in both the cost and reach of our domestic government.
His presentation was later published by the John Birch Society as its founding document called The Blue Book, the full text of which is available here. What’s remarkable is that this presentation was made 55 years ago, proving two points: Mr. Welch’s remarkable foresight, and Mr. Coburn’s lack of the same. Coburn has feet of clay and is not only the author of his Wastebook but a contributor to it as well.
NewsOK.com: Sen. Tom Coburn to release 2013 Wastebook