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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.

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