Sen. Tom Coburn Releases V.A. Report, Continues to Keep Congress in Check

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Earlier this week, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) released a report detailing many of the growing list of problems associated with the V.A. Politico reports:

"More than 1,000 veterans needlessly died under the VA's watch, and the Department in turn paid these veterans' families $200 million in wrongful death settlements—the median payment per victim was $150,000," the report states.

The investigation into ongoing issues at the VA also found that a doctor was able to perform "unnecessary pelvic and breast exams" on female patients, that minority employees faced racial discrimination and that illegal drugs were prevalent in VA facilities.

The report "shows the problems at the VA are worse than anyone imagined. The scope of the VA's incompetence—and Congress' indifferent oversight—is breathtaking and disturbing," said Coburn, an Oklahoma Republican and physician who once worked in the VA system.

Coburn is one of Congress' most ardent investigators of government waste and abuse. The top Republican on the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, Coburn launched this investigation more than a year ago.

Coburn is not new to reporting on fraud and abuse. In 2012, Reason TV's Nick Gillespie interviewed Coburn being critical of Congress and his reform efforts throughout his tenure. Watch "Sen. Tom Coburn: How Both Parties Bankrupted America," produced by Jim Epstein. Original airdate was July, 17, 2012, and the original writeup is below.

"Both parties have equally participated in abandoning the limited role of the federal government," says Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Oklahoma), whose new book, The Debt Bomb: A Bold Plan to Stop Washington from Bankrupting Our Economy, argues that Republicans and Democrats together have brought the U.S. to the brink of fiscal calamity.

First elected to the house in 1994 as part of the "Republican Revolution," Coburn is a staunch fiscal and social conservative, who's been outspokenly critical of members of his own party for compromising their principles out of political expedience. Coburn has publicly taken former House Speaker Newt Gingrich to task for lacking leadership and resolve during his battles with the Clinton White House to cut spending in the mid-90s.

Coburn, who's known in the senate as "Dr. No" for vetoing almost all new spending initiatives, says the federal budget is rife with "waste, fraud, and duplication." In 2006, Coburn co-sponsored legislation that created USASpending.gov, which makes publicly accessible a list of all recipients of government funds. In 2010, Coburn was instrumental in getting the Government Accountability Office to undertake researching and documenting wasteful government programs.

A supporter of a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, Coburn was a co-author of the Partial-Birth Abortion Act of 2003, and he supported a 1996 law requiring that "V-chips" be placed in all television sets to allow parents to block programming deemed unsuitable. In 1997, Coburn criticized NBC for airing the Holocaust-film "Schindler's List" on the grounds that it included "vile language, full-frontal nudity and irresponsible sexual activity." NBC characterized Coburn's views as "frightening."

ReasonTV's Nick Gillespie sat down with Sen. Coburn to discuss wasteful spending, cutting entitlements, the need for free-market health care, and whether he's losing faith in the government's ability to enforce values.

Shot by Jim Epstein and Meredith Bragg, and edited by Epstein.

Go to Reason.tv for downloadable versions and subscribe to ReasonTV's YouTube Channel to receive notifications when new material goes live.

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  1. SOCONZ!

  2. Tallahassee Top Cop: You question our methods, I blame the gun culture!

    DeLeo draws a direct connection between gun violence and a recent spate of officer-involved shootings that has left two people dead and two others injured in four separate incidents since mid-May.

    I love the “per capita” shit, too. Tallahassee has about 150,000 full time residents. Maybe an extra 50,000 when the colleges are in. Jacksonville has 5M people (Since they’ve essentially incorporated the entire county). So if J-ville has 50 gun crimes a year, and Tallahasse has 3, guess who has the higher rate per capita? Nothing like lying with statistics to deflect blame.

    1. Whatever, it’s Tallahassee. No one cares as long as the Margaritas are cold, and The Mouse keeps his appearance schedule. There may be a hint of gun grabbing here. But from the article his solutions seem to be better outreach and focusing on actual policing. Better than I can say for his northern contemporaries.

      1. It bothers me that we’ve had more officer involved shootings and he blames “gun culture” not “cop culture”.

  3. “More than 1,000 veterans needlessly died under the VA’s watch, and the Department in turn paid these veterans’ families $200 million in wrongful death settlements?the median payment per victim was $150,000,” the report states.

    This is amazing.

    1. I think it’s amazing the numbers are that low.

      But then, I’m a cynical bastard.

  4. No More Gridlock!

    After 18 months of forums and deliberations the 29 members of the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Commission on Political Reform have offered a blueprint for steps to take to improve American democracy. The recommendations include the following:

    ?The US Senate should end the use of filibusters by individuals that keep bills from even being debated on the floor. But it also should permit the minority party to have more opportunities to offer amendments to bills.

    —–

    ?Finally, all post-high-school-age Americans should give one year of service to their country in the form of military service, through civilian service in a program such as AmeriCorps or the Peace Corps, or through other nonprofit groups that serve those in need.

    Do-Somethingism strikes again. We need to fast track bad political ideas, by squelching debate. Also, bring back the draft, to show those indolent whippersnappers the true glory of government!

    1. I honestly can’t understand this mindset.The idea that a bunch of shit weasels in the Senate can fix everything if only they passed more laws. WTF. The US federal law code is 3 times the size of the Encyclopedia Britannica,but just a few more and we’ll have everything right.To paraphrase the president, I think at some point you have to admit you’ve made enough laws.

      1. Nah, laws are good, therefore the more there are, the better things get.

        /progtard

        1. It’s the labor theory of value applied to politics. The harder Congress works to pass a law, the more magical prosperity we will experience.

      2. Are you crazy? That would be ANARCHY!

    2. The good news is that the really stupid ideas have no chance of being enacted.

      1. [citation needed]

        1. The National service component ain’t gonna happen.

          The state can’t afford to pay for it. The people they would have to shift the are going to oppose it.

          My guess is that the leftist orgs will look at the administration headache caused by having all these slaves and won’t want to touch it.

          Similarly neither the house nor the Senate leadership will cede power to each other.

          Better men than Bender have tried to eliminate Gerrymandering, … and failed.

          The rest of their laundry list is similarly unrealistic.

          1. Fuck!

            It should be:

            The people they would have to shift the costs on to are going to oppose it.

      2. Said no one on this forum ever… Well you had to be first at something.

    3. What do either of those recommendations have to do with “democracy?”

      1. The “majority” ramming shit up the ass of everyone cause….”majority”.

        Ain’t democracy great?!

  5. The Pentagon: Millennials are increasingly becoming too fat, lazy, and stupid to even qualify for military service.

    Those Millennials had better be careful; if they continue living their happy, jobless existences in Mommy’s basement into their thirties for too much longer, they might wake up one day to find that the draft has been reinstated.

    1. This is why we need a different kind of draft. We draft the neo-cons and the neo-libs who are true believers in never ending war. We draft the Bush’s, Clinton’s, Obama’s and all their toadies and flunkies

      1. The only draft I could get behind…

        Congressmen’s families are on the first landing craft.

        1. Fuck that. Put the congressmen on there but that idea that (adult) children are just chattel of their parents is root of many draftboners’ philosophy.

          1. They can be the second wave. They should get to see the family members they are killing sacrificing.

    2. There are worse ways to end never-ending wars.

    3. By then Google’s military robots will have supplanted Millennials.

      Honestly, I find Google’s robots really scary. And some of it’s out of dystopian sci-fi central casting…

      Look at these YouTube videos:

      http://arstechnica.com/gadgets…..s-company/

      Why do they have to be under contract with DARPA and the Pentagon on this? Why do did they have to name their bipedal robot “Pet-Man”. All sorts of evil being built under the monicker “Don’t Be Evil”?

      With plot points like that, the script writes itself–but it isn’t a dystopian sci-fi flick. It’s Google in real life, right freakin’ now.

      I’ve always scoffed at the neo-Luddites, but this is starting to get creepy. We might come to wish we were just facing lard-ass Millennials. Is the Second Amendment really so we can defend our rights and freedoms against a government hostile to liberty? What good will the Second Amendment be against, say, president Liz Warren’s Google-robot army?

      You know she hates libertarians.

      1. “Don’t be evil”. Heh. One could go on for hours about the irony, right?

      2. We’re a long, long way away from terminator robots. Energy storage isn’t even close to what we need, not to mention the problems with AI.

        1. I’m not sure AI is a problem.

          So long as they can deploy themselves, an operator can take them over remotely when necessary. Just like firing missiles from a drone.

          I don’t know about the power requirements either. Maxwell’s ultracapacitors charge very quickly–it takes less time to charge one of their buses than it takes to fill a gas tank! Apparently those dog robots were developed to act as pack mules alongside standard troops in places like Afghanistan–being able to charge them must have been a consideration.

          I hope you’re right. But the thing that stop some of these things from being commercialized are cost considerations. The Pentagon isn’t limited like that, and that’s who they’re working for–the Pentagon and DARPA.

          1. Unless they’re autonomous there is always the possibility of jamming the control signal. Situational awareness in a drone still has a ways to go even if that were overcome.

            “I don’t know about the power requirements either. Maxwell’s ultracapacitors charge very quickly–it takes less time to charge one of their buses than it takes to fill a gas tank!”

            Not to be snippy (well, OK, I *am* a grumpy ass, so I will be a little snippy). Power != energy!! Ultracaps store almost no energy. They’re huge compared to traditional caps but a candy bar is a more efficient energy storage medium than an ultracap. Maxwell buses do NOT rely on the ultracaps for primary energy storage. They exist solely for regenerative braking and torque assist enabling the real battery pack to be tuned for density, cost, and capacity.

            Now let’s talk about those pack mules:

            1) They have an on board engine, not batteries.
            2) They aren’t armored (that I can tell and given their weight) and move at the brisk pace of 4km/h. A SAW can probably disable one of these things.

            The first robots will be exactly what you’re seeing: UAV’s. Ground robots will consist of heavies used in logistics and some “assault” machines with heavier infantry weapons, i.e. machine guns and grenade launchers, tethered to their power source which makes them inflexible (but unjammable too). Truly lethal robot infantry is a long ways away. I expect we’ll see power suited infantry long before we see the former.

            1. I’m sure what you’re saying is true, but however they’re powering those things, it doesn’t seem like they think power is going to be an issue.

              And those videos are creepy. The emergency light for a head guy that they can make stop and do pushups is creepy. Until he started doing pushups, it looked like he had shotguns instead of arms.

              Maybe we’re farther away than I realized, but I think we’re a lot closer than a lot of other people realize.

              My grandparents saw Lindbergh fly overhead, and they lived to fly to Hong Kong themselves on a commercial airline.

              How far away do you think we are? more than 20 years? Less than 40? I’ll live to see all of that.

              1. Barring a massive breakthrough in either compact fuel cells or batteries, 30-50 years. Yes, energy storage is really advancing that slowly.

                Everyone likes to think that technology is advancing at an exponential pace. The sad reality is that most of what we are doing today is just a better engineered/optimized version of what we created 50-60 years ago–15nm transistors instead of discrete multi-um versions. Yes, there are some exceptions in the biological world, but in the physical/chemical world, not so much.

              2. shotguns instead of arms

                BEST. IDEA. EVER.

      3. This is a long way to say “guns robots are scary and I’m a luddite”

    4. Huxley won, Orwell lost.

      The future tyranny will be one of hedonism rather than naked force.

      1. Dude, look at those robots!

        1. The second robot looks, and sounds, like something out of Silent Hill.

          That’s not going to test well in focus groups.

    5. Let’s see, we force kids to enter public schools earlier than ever so they can learn to sit still and be spoon fed information. Then, we take away their recess and other active play in the name of education.

      We are then shocked when they are fat and have low physical ability.

      1. It’s OK, CPA. Everyone will be riding on those cool robots very soon!

      2. Recess and PE are a total waste of time.

    6. Defense mechanism? Maybe they’re not so dumb.

  6. a bunch of shit weasels in the Senate can fix everything if only they passed more laws.

    No kidding. “Those DO-NOTHING BASTARDS! Why aren’t they passing more new laws?!”

    Maybe we should try a different yardstick, like repealing laws, or cutting the federal payroll.

    Fuck it, who am I kidding?

  7. What I will say about Coburn is at least he’s what republicans claim to be, unlike most of the rest of them who spend like drunken sailors AND want to put their noses in my personal life.

  8. OT: I was just had ABC on while I make pancakes (don’t ask why), and I just heard Terry Moran (henceforth to be known as Terry Moron) who just said the current Supreme Court is a “libertarian court.”

    Do these fuckers really not know what words mean? Or do they just not care?

    1. I think the progressives in the media are so used to seeing Obama get his progressive way that they’re interpreting his defeats as libertarian victories.

      It’s kind of a good development, for us, if people start to see the world as a zero-sum game between progressives and libertarians. That worldview gives us half the battlefield.

      And the U.S. is becoming more libertarian in certain symbolic ways. Gay Marriage, drug legalization, etc. I used to think we’d see the abolition of the income tax before we saw either one of those things happen.

      1. “I used to think we’d see the abolition of the income tax before we saw either one of those things happen.”

        HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Right. Control the purse strings and you control everything else. That will be absolutely the last thing to go.

      2. My hope is that conservatives will be forced into our fold in the same way that liberals were forced into the progressive fold.

    2. Libertarian is the new code word for “scary ideas that threaten my TEAM”.

      1. I thought it was what a closeted, conservative, and apparently self-hating Republican called themselves whenever they went to a gay bar.

        1. Shhh. There, there. Hug your Krugman plushie and go back to sleep.

        2. “Libertine.” That’s correct.

    3. SCOTUS has been ruling against the president, so the court must be racist, SOCON, or libertarian. A token Black and Latina, so can’t be racist. Too many flaming liberals, so can’t be SOCON. Hence, “libertarian”. QED.

    4. If only. Although as the only branch with any incentive to be a brake on the power of the State, he’s wrong only is scope.

  9. It bothers me that we’ve had more officer involved shootings and he blames “gun culture” not “cop culture”.

    All those gun-toting civilians make the cops trigger happy. Civilians are crazy and dangerous.

    OFFICER SAFETY is paramount.

  10. “Continues to keep Congress in check, [believes global warming is a Satanic plot]”

  11. *thinking to self ‘should I share, or should I not share… I shall share’*

    OT: from the facebooks [It’s time to add an amendment to the constitution, called separation of corporations and state. No business or corporation shall be allowed to give money to any politician under any condition. No corporation shall in anyway write bills, lobby congress for any reason. Any business that harms the environment in any way shall pay 100% of cleanup costs from their own assets without any insurance reimbursement. Any corporation found to having broke any laws, shall have its CEO and board of directors held criminally responsible with the harshest of penalties.]

    It gets worse…

    1. I realize all the bought of politicians will say how this would hurt the economy and businesses would leave America. GOOD!!! The companys that stay will be acting ethically!!! We don’t need these corrupt bastards anymore!!!

      …and then

      One of the biggest flaws in our entire system is in the judicial branch. Supreme Court Justices should be elected to terms and not appointed. Also I still don’t know what they mean by “interpreting the constitution”, it’s written in English! What the hell is there to interpret???

      I don’t know how Derpetologist does this, and stays sane.

      1. “Also I still don’t know what they mean by “interpreting the constitution”, it’s written in English! What the hell is there to interpret???”

        Future Obama nominee to the federal bench right there.

      2. I still don’t know what they mean by “interpreting the constitution”, it’s written in English

        “, Motherfucker!”

      3. This is one of those things that is so mind-bogglingly short-sighted and stupid that it’s hard to pick just one thing to refute, mainly because it’s not an argument. It’s just a bunch of declarations without any support or reasoning.

        1. I thought about replying, if only for a second, to that series of posts. If only I could put sense in a fool’s brain.

      4. One of the biggest flaws in our entire system is in the judicial branch. Supreme Court Justices should be elected to terms and not appointed. Also I still don’t know what they mean by “interpreting the constitution”, it’s written in English! What the hell is there to interpret???

        This is hilarious. Supreme Court justices are explicitly NOT elected because they’re supposed to serve as a hedge against mob rule and terrible ideas that come out of the elected branches. Electing them would defeat that purpose.

        He then says it’s not hard to interpret the Constitution, even though he just showed that he’s not capable of interpreting the Constitution.

        1. More:

          Our federal government was only supposed to have two main purposes, organizing national defense in times of war and international commerce. Everything else is some form of corporate slavery.
          The more local the governing body, the more authority it should have in regards to its people. I realize that this would cause a problem in the welfare state, but only people who were truly in need would receive help.
          When we lose the ability to internally self govern, tyranny always results.

          and…

          The federal government was also supposed to deal with interstate commerce and other goings on between states. And the federal government is not actually the most powerful of governments. They’ve got it all messed up.

          I can’t take anymore.

  12. I realize all the bought of politicians will say how this would hurt the economy and businesses would leave America. GOOD!!!

    Don’t worry about a thing. We’ll all just work for the government, spying on our neighbors. What could possibly go wrong?

  13. It’s just a bunch of declarations without any support or reasoning.

    Congress waves a magic wand, and casts a spell. Presto! Paradise on Earth.

    1. OK. We are always railing against top men, and then we post what the not-top men have to say and it turns out to be brain damage inducing stupid.

      What to do…..what to do……

      1. Libertarian Top Men.

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