Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK), who recently withdrew from the so-called Gang of Six (US Senators working on a federal budget deficit reduction plan), says today that he will “in the coming weeks” offer up his own plan to reduce the deficit by $9 trillion over 10 years.
Sen. Coburn, who is a close personal friend of President Obama and one of the Senate’s most conservative members, is explicit in his Washington Post op-editorial. He says his plan and any plan necessarily must address all aspects of federal spending, including so-called entitlement programs and national defence, and must also raise taxes to get the deficit under control.
He lambastes the institution in which he serves, the US Senate, for abdicating its responsibility to address the budget deficit issue. He writes:
We are facing what Democrat Erskine Bowles calls the most predictable economic crisis in history. There is no excuse for not having bills on the Senate floor with an open amendment process that allows the American people to fully comprehend not only the magnitude of our problems but the possible solutions. The people need to hear the Senate debate the central issues of our time. The limited progress that has been made to bring sobriety to Congress, such as the end of the earmark orgy, was made possible through a relentless floor campaign publicizing amendment after amendment and cut after cut. Change happens when the American people see real debate, not partisan political theatre.
As the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid bears special responsibility for failing to direct attention to the central challenges of our time. His floor strategy seems to be focused on saving Democrats more than democracy. I would relish a debate on tax earmarks, spending cuts and competing budgets (if there were competing budgets), yet the votes he seems most interested in scheduling — such as tax breaks for big oil companies — are designed for short-term political gain rather than long-term deficit reduction.
Read the rest here.