Government Spending

The Obstinate Obstetrician

Sen. Tom Coburn resists the tyranny of good intentions

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Frustrated by Tom Coburn's "unprecedented obstructionism," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid cobbled together a "Tomnibus" of 35 bills with "broad—virtually unanimous—bipartisan support" that Coburn had blocked. On Monday the Oklahoma Republican blocked them again.

Unable to muster the 60 votes needed to overcome Coburn's opposition, Reid castigated the Republicans who had sided with the obstreperous obstetrician. "You go home and explain to…the next person you see in a wheelchair, 'I voted against you because Harry Reid was being a tyrannical guy in the Senate,'" the Nevada Democrat said. He also accused the Republicans of voting against victims of stroke, Lou Gehrig's disease, postpartum depression, and child pornography.

"I have never been a bully," Reid insisted while caricaturing his opponents as cripple kickers, mother haters, and molester lovers. Perhaps he really believes that, just as he really believes he is anything but "a tyrannical guy." Spending other people's money on good causes makes you automatically virtuous, which is part of its appeal. If nothing else, Coburn has shown it is possible to resist the tyranny of good intentions.

"Mr. Coburn's approach is problematic when it comes to the mechanics of the Senate," The New York Times explains, "because most of the chamber's work gets done by what is known as unanimous consent, an agreement among all parties to let a bill pass without a fight." In other words, Coburn has the bad manners to demand that the "world's greatest deliberative body" deliberate.

It's not hard to see why Reid wants to avoid that. Although he dubbed his spending package the Advancing America's Priorities Act, the one thing it emphatically does not do is set priorities.

Is postpartum depression a bad thing? Sure it is. Then let's pass a law that "aims to eradicate the devastating effects of postpartum depression on American families." And let's call it the MOTHERS Act, even though MOTHERS is not, strictly speaking, the correct acronym for Mom's Opportunity to Access Health, Education, Research, and Support for Postpartum Depression.

Are flowers nice? Of course they are. So let's pay for a new greenhouse at the Smithsonian to house its orchid collection.

Are museums edifying? You bet. So let's sponsor a traveling exhibit commemorating the War of 1812 and "The Star Spangled Banner." While we're at it, let's make a donation to the Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw. Speaking of edification and other countries, why not create a foundation to encourage study abroad?

According to the Congressional Budget Office, Reid's wish list will cost about $10 billion over five years, at a time when the federal budget deficit has ballooned to a record $490 billion. Yet Reid marvels that "the rogue far right…has perfected the art of stopping good bills that help good people." Good bills that help good people: Could there possibly be a better governing philosophy?

I myself am partial to the notion, promoted by such rogue right-wingers as James Madison, that the federal government may exercise only those powers explicitly enumerated in the Constitution, which do not include subsidizing medical research, museums, or foreign travel for college students. As Madison pointed out, if Article I's General Welfare Clause is interpreted as blanket permission to spend money on good things, much of the rest of the Constitution is superfluous.

Coburn, known as the Dr. No of the Senate, does not go that far. Unlike Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), the Dr. No of the House, Coburn generally does not oppose spending on constitutional grounds. But he does ask his colleagues to pay for new programs by cutting old ones instead of spending money they do not have. In a letter to Reid, he identified $45 billion in cuts that could be used to offset the cost of Advancing America's Priorities.

Reid did not respond. When you're spending other people's money, especially when you're borrowing against the earnings of people who are not yet born, there's no need to set priorities.

© Copyright 2008 by Creators Syndicate Inc.

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  1. “the rogue far right…has perfected the art of stopping good bills that help good people.”

    If only they could be more perfect.

  2. It seems that Sen. Coburn managed to shame the Republicans into voting (for once) against a federal giveaway bill. I would hypothesize that this has less to do with the Republicans being opposed to such bills on principle, and more about striking back at Sen. Reid because he’s an [name of body part omitted]. If the identical bill had been proposed by a Rep leader, I bet the Reps would have supported it – as indicated by their history of approving such things in the past.

  3. Too ban there are not more senators like Coburn. The damn Republicans have turned into Democrats.

  4. reason sucks

  5. Adherent of the REAL Dr. No | July 30, 2008, 8:37am | #

    You work for S.P.E.C.T.R.E.?

  6. LOL, he is Dr No until you put the right amount of money in his pockets anyways. Corruption is Bliss!

    JT
    http://www.FireMe.To/udi

  7. I’d respect Coburn more if he were trying to save the planet! If he were trying to save the planet!

  8. Bah. Ron Paul could’ve thrown that wannabe into the cooling vat with one hand while delivering triplets with the other.

  9. Yeah, but he’s deathly afraid of TEH LESBIANS.

  10. Did Colburn vote for the war? Cause that’s some spending right there.

  11. Coburn isn’t remotely libertarian. He opposes gay marriage.

  12. Did Colburn vote for the war? Cause that’s some spending right there.

    Making war is a legitimate function of the national government.

  13. Reid marvels that “the rogue far right…has perfected the art of stopping good bills that help good people.”

    There are things which swell my American bosom with pride. Harry Reid’s “leadership” of the Senate is not one of those things.

  14. Coburn isn’t remotely libertarian. He opposes gay marriage.

    Damn, its early to start drinking. But, the rules are the rules.

  15. As a life-long liberal Democrat, I say right on and a thousand thanks to Dr. Tom for stopping Boss Reid’s “Up with Orchids” bill. Although I disagree with Coburn on virtually every policy issue, I wish there were three or four more like him in the Senate.

    But I thought Jacob’s praise for James Madison as a constitutional thinker wasn’t that sharp. Madison was the author of the “Virginia Plan” for the Constitution that would have based representation in both the House and the Senate on population and would have given Congress the remarkable power of overturning state laws.

    Madison took it for granted that the interests of the southern planters and the northern commercial interests were identical, and he expected that New York, Pennsylvania, and Virginia would basically run things. When it turned out otherwise, he rapidly switched positions, becoming an extreme states’ righter.

    The Founding Fathers, after all, were nothing but politicians in wigs. They said a lot of smart things, but they shouldn’t be cited as irrefutable authority.

  16. Too ban there are not more senators like Coburn. The damn Republicans have turned into Democrats.

    Yeah, but it did take 41 Republican Senators voting with Sen. Coburn (and all but one of the rest not voting) in order for him to actually win this one. If he really were by himself, Sen. Reid’s bill would’ve passed easily.

  17. But without Coburn, nothing would’ve happened here. He basically stopped the pork by himself. As someone earlier pointed out, the other GOP senators were simply publicly shammed by Coburn into going along.

  18. Half a point to Coburn on this one, and to hell with Harry Reid.

    -jcr

  19. Making war is a legitimate function of the national government.

    Not without a declaration of war by Congress it isn’t. And an AUMF that defers the decision to go to war to the executive doesn’t count.

  20. Making war is a legitimate function of the national government.

    Not without a declaration of war by Congress it isn’t. And an AUMF that defers the decision to go to war to the executive doesn’t count.

    The national goverment has a legitimate authority to wage war. It does not have a legitimate authority to worry about people in wheelchairs.

    Bitching about the fact that the national government did not do the appropriate due diligence and follow the appropriate constutional mechanisms prior to invading Iraq is not particularly relevant to the point of my post.

  21. a legitimate authority to wage war requires an actual threat.

  22. a legitimate authority to wage war requires an actual threat.

    Two guys with blurred focus.

    This thread is about: National Government worries about national defense; state/local government worries about hapless people in wheelchairs.

    The discussion about how and when national government decides to invade someone else’s sand box is a differnt thread.

  23. Who died and made you God? The thread is about Tom Coburn; the war came up with respect to whether his vote for it was correct.

  24. I definitely like the Republicans better when they’re in the minority. I just hope they can keep at least 41 after this election.

  25. The thread is about Tom Coburn;

    And Tom Coburn’s shtick is that he smothers bills that go to help the poor and the needy because they are not the legitimate function of the federal government.

    Senator Coburns’s position on the war in Iraq is not relevant to his position on the Advancing America’s Priorities Act.

  26. This thread is about: National Government worries about national defense; state/local government worries about hapless people in wheelchairs. waste and stupidity.

  27. I don’t care how Coburn is on any other issues — we need at least one such guy in the Senate at all times, and 40+ others who can be shamed into going along with a filibuster. He’s got at least part of the right-lib checklist covered, though a filibuster over the other $490B of the deficit is sorely needed.

    Now, if we could get one such Democrat in the Senate, and 40+ Democrats who would be willing to filibuster FISA immunity, Iraq, etc.

    But, alas, only about 28 Democrats can be counted on to stand up for the left-libs.

  28. But, alas, only about 28 Democrats can be counted on to stand up for the left-libs.

    Also, alas, none of those 28 were willing to do an old school, read the phonebook and Atlas Shrugged style filibuster.

  29. A thread is whatever the hell the contributors want it to be – sure, it should stick somewhat closely to the essence of the original article. But to say that someone cannot make points ancillary to the original is just stupid.

  30. Also, alas, none of those 28 were willing to do an old school, read the phonebook and Atlas Shrugged style filibuster.

    You need 41 votes to do a filibuster, otherwise they cut off debate with a cloture vote and you don’t get past chapter 1 of Atlas Shrugged.

    Not that Democrats would read from Atlas Shrugged — maybe Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle? The Bible, minus some inconvenient parts from Leviticus?

    The whole point of putting a hold on a bill is the willingness of a sufficiently large number of people to read Atlas Shrugged, etc. cover to cover. You have to care enough about stopping legislation to be willing to back up a hold with words, and lots of them, otherwise your bluff gets called, the debate peters out after a couple of hours, and then it gets put to a vote.

  31. A thread is whatever the hell the contributors want it to be – sure, it should stick somewhat closely to the essence of the original article.

    Doesn’t even have to relate to original topic. If it veers off into a Lobster Girl / ranking of porn sites / passionate argument over ideal hop levels in craft beer discussion because that is more interesting than the original topic — all good.

  32. Reid is not only a tyrant, he is a hypocrite. In a news release earlier this week, he lamented,

    “The large budget deficit is a symptom of the many serious problems that Bush-McCain Republicans refuse to address. Rather than continuing the flawed policies that produced this result, Democrats believe we must change course. We need to strengthen our economy and make America energy independent, partly through investments in renewable energy that create jobs. We need health reform to lower costs and improve care. And we must shift military resources from Iraq to Afghanistan – the real central front in the war on terror – while also focusing more on needs here at home. The truth is, until we deal with these underlying problems, our budget deficits and the squeeze on America’s families will only get worse.”

    So according to Harry, the way to reduce the national debt is to (a) strengthen our economy. How? No suggestions from Reid. (b) Make America energy independent. This from one of the leaders in the fight against producing more of the country’s energy needs domestically. (b)2 Invest in renewable energy. Under ‘invest,’ read ‘throw more federal dollars at.’ Really? That will reduce the federal deficit? (c) Reform health care. Once again, you can bet that by ‘reform,’ Reid is talking about subsidizing through federal handouts. Result: more federal spending. (d) Shift military resources from Iraq to Afghanistan. Here Reid had a chance to make a good point, if only he had left it at “withdraw all troops from Iraq.” At least that would be a significant reduction in spending (regardless of where one stands on the wisdom of such a course of action). Once again, no reductions in federal spending here.

    Reid admits the awful effects of the skyrocketing national debt holding down the nation’s economy. But his ‘solution’ is to increase federal spending! This is unbelievable. He admits it’s a problem, provides no solution of his own, and derides Coburn for trying to alleviate the problem.

    In the words of a true patriot, Coburn told the New York Times, “I am not a go-along, get-along guy if I think it is the wrong way to go. I am O.K. taking the consternation of my colleagues. I take my oath seriously.” Can the same be said about Reid? I don’t believe so.

  33. passionate argument over ideal hop levels in craft beer . . .

    Beer sucks, mead however is a great thing.

  34. A thread is whatever the hell the contributors want it to be – sure, it should stick somewhat closely to the essence of the original article.

    The thread can go where ever it happens to go. But, I get annoyed by people that divert to an alternate thread while believing their comments actually relate to the original thread.

    That, and Iraq pops up more than once a week. So save the bitching to one of those threads. Otherwise, it kills too many interesting threads too early.

  35. Keep it up Tom one of the very few honest Politicians in Wash. DC most are an corrupt bunch of worthless Morons!

  36. You need to do something about the old angry senile man Tom!

    I think that many of McCain’s positions that are credited with principles are in fact positions that came about because of his very limited intelligence! The man does not know anything about the Economy, where Iraq, Iran, Pakistan or Afghanistan are in relation to each other, the different between the Shiites and Sunnis or much else. What is Amazing is how anyone can be an Senator for so many years and know so little, about so much!

    McCain is too Stupid to be an Senator, too Stupid to be President and too Treasonous to be an American!

    McCain’s Hispanic Outreach person Juan Hernandez was a Cabinet member in Mexico’s Vicente Fox’s government and VP of the racist hate organization La Raza & is openly for reconquest of the American Southwest!.

    Some of his comments.

    “We have recognized that the Mexican population is 100 million in Mexico and 23 million who live in the United States?We are a united nation.”

    Mexican immigrants “are going to keep one foot in Mexico and are not going to assimilate.”

    Mexico’s total economic policy is to send their Uneducated peons and Criminals to the US for Tax payers to support and be the Victims of their crimes as they Kill, Rob and Rape Americans by the 10,s of thousands, Businesses to Exploit and Corrupt Politicians to Pander and Cuddle! While Mexico has one of the most punitive and strictly enforced immigration policies in the world!

    Apparently McCain agrees with his adviser & the reconquest of the Southwest and the colonization of American by the invading horde or he would get another adviser! McCain is an ex-hero and now American traitor like Benedict Arnold and should be attested, tried for treason, gave a fast but fair trial then an public execution on National TV!

    Obama the Great One————————————————————————————————

    As everyone but politicians & the Media knows, Action talks, Bull Sh-t walks! Barrack sit at the feet of his friend and Mentor for 20 years, supported him with his money, his family, subjected his children to his hate filled rants and listened to hate whites, Jews, American, hate everyone with the exception of Blacks and Muslims!

    All the pundits, talking heads, Liberal arguments and warm tingling feeling below their belt or speeches wrote by speech writers and read by Obama cannot change the facts.

    Barrack Obama & his wife are American hating, Black Power Racist proven by 20 years of action and backed up by Barracks words in Dreams of my Father!

    Now, he says it was repugnant to him and he does not endorse it or agree! It is 20 years too late for anyone with an brain to accept. Either Barrack is lying or he has an serious mental problem! No one in their right mind would sit in an church like that for 20 years and support it every way possible unless they agreed with the message or they were crazy!

    Just imagine, if an White Republican politician had sit at the feet of his Friend and Mentor in an Baptist Church for 20 years and listened to him preach, rant and spew out racist hate bile against everyone and everything except Whites and Baptists.

    Oh, The Outrage, the Moral Condemnation, The Media, Blacks leaders & Black Rev’s crawling out of every cracker jack box, the Liberals and Democrats would be squealing like pigs caught under the gate! The squealing would be heard the world over and seriously threaten the collective hearing of the Nation! Republican politicians chiming in to be political correct, in fact, every one of the known and unknown in the universe would be calling for his head, anyone that spoke in his defense would immediately be tarred with the same brush, no punishment would be enough, resigning from office would not be enough, the poor follow would have to change his name, travel incognito and flee the country with his family! The IRS and FBI would be investing the church, the church closed and all its members disbanded and scattered to the four winds!

    What does Barrack have to do? Why just make an nice little speech blaming it all on his little old white grandmother, just throw her under the bus of his ambition and if that is not enough, just whites in general!

    But Wait, that is for the Rev. Wright and his hate rants, Not why Obama the Chosen one, the scion of the goat lover, the son of the typical black father, the one that has came to lead American and the world to the promise land. Obama the Second coming, sit in the church for 20 years and listened to his Friend and Mentor spew out hate Rants that He, the Super Ego found repugnant and disgusting but with just one little speech and never answer why the Supreme One had such hate or poor judgment and all is right and forgiven in Obama land!

    If nothing else this campaign has Exposed the racism of Blacks and the total Blinding, Unbelievable Hypocrisy, the like of any Balance or Morals that the Liberals, Democrats, Media and Politicians in general have! They have been exposed as Lying, Deceitful Hypocrites, Unable or Unwilling to face the truth!

    Never again, will most Americans credit them with intelligence or compassion that is deeper and purer that us poor lesser ones, because with our limited intelligences we just cannot comprehend & have to listen to the intelligence Media and wise compassion Liberals to point out the errors of our ways and thinking! No longer!

  37. Umm….

    Black Saint, did you even mention Coburn or Reid in that entire rant?

    I’m sure there’s somewhere for you to vent your (unintelligible) frustrations, but I think others would appreciate it if you would stick to the topic at hand.

  38. I’d like to find a way to tie Tom Coburn or Harry Reid into a rant about the worst organization in sports, the Detroit Lions, but I’m clueless on how to make such a segway.

    I guess I will simply say that Tom Coburn is a true hero in a profession full of adulation-seeking phonies.

    Harry Reid, on the other hand, personifies everything wrong with our government. Is there anyone on the left who believes there should be ANY limit on governmental intervention into the life of its citizens?

    As far as I can tell, the left believes firmly that the government should protect a woman’s inalienable right to eliminate any form of human life that may grow inside of her womb and an individual’s “right” to a state-sanctioned “marriage” of his/her own definition.

    Am I missing anything?

  39. Making [a preemptive] war [of choice] is a legitimate function of the national government.

    Spoken like a true warmonger. As for Coburn, thi is part of the Reason magazine “Republicans Rock” series, which includes interviews with Republican dirty trickster, promoting Grover Norquist’s latest book, and, now, telling us that Tom Coburn is the shit.

    Next up in the series: The unfairly maligned Ted Stephens: An Advocated of Market-Based Transparent Government!

  40. Senator Cogburn is pro-Life -100% National Right to Life rating.

    Mr. Obama spent 20 years hanging around racists and anti-semites(not 20 seconds-20 years!)
    It took him that long to do the right thing?
    Does his conscience work that slow?

    1. Mr. Obama is a first-term senator without a single important legislative achievement to his name.
    2. Mr. Obama voted present nearly 130 times,quite a lot for a first term Senator.
    3. Mr. Obama lectures on learning a foreign language, can speak none himself.
    4. Mr. Obama has never produced a single peice of scholarship,or written anything of note.
    5. He earned a law degree from harvard but never practiced law.
    6. He did write a book. The subject? Himself.
    7. Has he ever admitted he changed his mind or was wrong about anything?
    8. on Iraq, Obama has held almost every conceivable position.
    9. His Pro-Life (National Right to Life) rating=
    2005 0%,
    2006 0%,
    2007 0%
    His Pro-Abortion (NARAL) rating=
    2005 100%,
    2006 100%,
    2007 100%

    What does one innocent human life mean to God( not man, but God)?
    10. On Iraq, he has held almost every conceivable opinion

    Padre Pio, was a very holy man and a great mystic. Every time I think I’ve read about every book I written on the man come across another one. In this particular book on him which I was looking at recently, there was a person who told a story about going to him for confession. He told about Padre Pio becoming very angry at him for voting for a socialist. Later he went back to him for confession and told him that this time he did not vote for the socialist but he couldn’t bring himself to vote for other candidate either, Again Padre Pio became very angry at him
    and would not grant him absolution(forgiveness of sin) From this we have to conclude
    that Padre Pio considered it a sin for someone to vote for a socialist and also to opt for not voting
    at all either. Another story I read about him in another book was when he went up
    to a person he didn’t know and had never met and confronted him about being
    a communist. In other words, to Padre Pio, a person’s salvation was not exclusionary from
    one’s political considerations and what political party you belonged to or voted for (if the moral positions of such contradicted Christian teaching) could put your soul in jeopardy. And what about being an accessory to another’s sin? If a politician has made clear his pro-abortion position and I vote for him and once he gets into office he carries through with his philosophy am I not guilty of aiding and abetting?

    (The name of the book from which I got the Padre Pio story was “Stories of Padre Pio” by Katharina Tangari published by TAN books,Rockford Illinois translated from the Italian “Il Messaggio di Padre Pio”. Madame Tagari knw Padre Pio for many, many years and was a “spiritual daughter” of him

    Obama’s voting record on abortion legislation gives every indication that as president he would support the Supreme Court’s decisions that have made the procedure legal in most cases. Last August he voted against a proposal to codify a Bush administration policy that gives states the option of providing medical insurance to unborn children under the State Children’s Health Insurance program. He also voted “no” on a 2006 bill to prohibit the transportation of a minor girl across state lines to obtain an abortion, if this would circumvent parental consent or notification laws in her home state.

    What kind of person is this guy Obama?

    We will have to ANWER TO GOD for our decisions people.

  41. Forget about telling people that you voted against the bill because “Harry Reid is a tyrannical guy” – how about just because he’s an a**hole?

  42. Making [a preemptive] war [of choice] is a legitimate function of the national government.

    I didn’t say what you stuffed into the brackets.

    Spoken like a true warmonger.

    Go Fuck Yourself.

    Since the national government is responsible for national defense, then the national government has a legitimate function in making war. Straightforward logic dipshit.

    This logic is independent of the collection of misfits that currently reside in the House, the Senate, and the White House.

  43. I am learning from Obama. If I can make Latter-Day-Saints the new Christian Scientists, I will have succeeded. Not that I think the Deseret News will become the Monitor anytime soon, but I think along those lines.

    Hopefully I can deliver Nevada into Bluestatedom forever. Our state bird is the Mountain Bluebird, it’s only fitting.

    HZR

  44. Ron Paul isn’t exactly Dr. No. He was caught during the primary campaign inserting earmarks for his district into various bills. When called out about it, he had the most absurd answer saying something to the effect that while he doesn’t like the system, he’s going to take advantage of it.

  45. Since the national government is responsible for national defense, then the national government has a legitimate function in making war[, but since the Iraq War was a preemptive war of choice, the national government was engaged in an illegitimate function when it invaded Iraq]. Straightforward logic dipshit.

    Thanks for clarifying!

  46. Is postpartum depression a bad thing? Sure it is. Then let’s pass a law that “aims to eradicate the devastating effects of postpartum depression on American families.” And let’s call it the MOTHERS Act, even though MOTHERS is not, strictly speaking, the correct acronym for Mom’s Opportunity to Access Health, Education, Research, and Support for Postpartum Depression.

    In related Coburn news, the Senate Ethics Committee has renewed their attempts to get him to stop caring for (some of those) said mothers for free:

    Coburn renews battle with Ethics over baby deliveries

    In May, Coburn received a strongly worded “final determination” memo threatening him with a Senate censure if he did not stop delivering babies for free. The letter prompted several heated meetings between Coburn and the Ethics Committee in June over the matter, according to two knowledgeable Senate sources.

    […]

    Coburn, however, wants to remain a true citizen-legislator and has long argued that the Senate should allow him to keep serving his patients because he plans to return to the practice when he leaves the Senate in 2016, consistent with his pledge to serve only two terms. He would like to keep up his medical skills if he is going to continue being able to earn a living in his chosen profession.

  47. We will have to ANWER TO GOD for our decisions people.

    And who the heck voted Reid into office? How many choices were on your ballot? Or will be in November? Who answers to God for our lousy ballot access systems?

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