Tom Coburn

Political Hay

Sequester Death Toll: One Job

By 5.9.14

At the core of the dysfunction in Washington is this dilemma: Government must approve spending cuts, yet government has no interest in approving spending cuts. Federal employees are quite content with their lifestyles—46 percent more in retirement benefits than the private sector, cozy job security—and don’t want to see them trimmed. Thus even spending reductions that make it through Congress rarely make a difference.

Look at what happened with the sequester.

By now just reading the word “sequester” should render the average reader cowering under his desk while “Flight of the Valkyries” thunders in his mind. Sequestration, after all, was supposed to hack apart the social order as we knew it. Chris Matthews called it a “doomsday machine.” President Obama warned that “people are going to be hurt.” The Congressional Budget Office predicted 750,000 jobs could be lost. Sequestration, as the trendy metaphor went, was a meat cleaver when what we really needed was a scalpel.

In Tom Coburn, We’re Losing a Good One

By on 1.17.14 | 1:42PM

There are very few senators who conservatives would agree regularly fight the good fight. After this year, there will be even fewer:

Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn confirmed Thursday night that he will not serve out his full Senate term and intends to step down after 2014 because of deepening health problems.

In a statement, Coburn acknowledged that he is battling a serious recurrence of cancer and said he would continue to fight for his priorities during the remainder of his time in office.

The Public Policy

The Best Way to Cut Spending: Cut Spending

By 12.18.13

We live in an age of mad austerity. Bits of debris crumble portentously off our bridges thanks to dried-up infrastructure funding. Scientists are forever one paycheck away from shutting down their research. What’s left of the civil service has been cut to ribbons by the late sequester. The recent government shutdown nearly annihilated the economy until (in the nick of time!) Republicans finally surrendered.

That’s America right now if you’re on the neo-Keynesian left. To its partisans, the government isn’t a leviathan, but a delicate Jenga tower—pluck a single dollar and you risk toppling everything. This is how a spending cut as piddling as the sequester becomes a nightmare scenario, or why any attempt to balance the budget is regularly denounced as right-wing extremism.