Dr. Coburn Responds to President Bush's Katrina Speech
U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-OK) released the following statement in response to President Bush's speech about the Hurricane Katrina relief effort:
"President Bush deserves praise for directing an unwieldy federal government toward the common goal of serving Hurricane Katrina victims who have urgent needs. The President also has shown real leadership by commending the army of private volunteers across America who have sacrificed so much to help the victims of this tragedy. The shock and dismay all Americans felt in the first few days after the hurricane is slowly being eclipsed by the countless stories of hope and compassion being written in communities across our nation. I'm deeply proud that the kindness and generosity of the citizens in my hometown of Muskogee has persuaded many of the families evacuated from the Gulf Region to call Oklahoma home."
"I'm disappointed, however, that the President has not done more to demand that Congress and other federal agencies make the same sacrifices millions of Americans are already making. There is no charity without sacrifice. My neighbors who are caring for these victims are giving up something. A family who gives $100 dollars to a displaced family is deciding to not spend that $100 on dinners out, new clothes or other needs and desires. Congress and the federal government, however, is refusing to make this choice. All of the funds being spent on this relief effort are being put on a credit card that will be paid for by future generations."
"President Bush's Office of Management and Budget has identified $15.3 billion that could be cut from wasteful or inefficient government programs. The President needs to lead and demand that Congress reduce this wasteful Washington spending to help finance this relief effort. It is inexcusable for the White House and Congress to not even make the effort to find at least some offsets to this new spending. No one in America believes the federal government is operating at peak efficiency and can't tighten its belt. Other sources of savings could include the nearly 15,000 lower-priority pork-barrel projects Congress funded this year to the tune of $27 billion."
"President Bush should also accept the recommendation of Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid who support a bill I authored with Senator Barack Obama that would create a Hurricane Katrina Chief Financial Officer. A team of inspector generals is a poor substitute for one chief financial officer who will carefully watch dollars as they go out the door. A clear lesson in this tragedy is that one point person tends to be more effective than many point persons. We need to conduct oversight before the fact, not after the fact when it is too late to undo mistakes."