CNN Lou Dobbs Tonight - Transcript
Tuesday, September 20, 2005
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DOBBS: This is a remarkable shuffling, I guess, some on Capitol Hill would say of priorities, others might say of responsibilities. Bill Tucker, thank you very much.
Republican senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma said the federal government must find ways to cut back on spending in order to offset the costs of rebuilding. And Senator Coburn says a delay in the Medicare drug program must be considered. He joins us tonight from Washington, D.C. Senator, good to have you here.
SEN. TOM COBURN (R), OKLAHOMA: Good to be with you, Lou.
DOBBS: You propose a one year delay in the drug plan. Why?
COBURN: Well, I think first of all to answer some of the things that have been put up there, the people who are most needing won't be delayed at all. They have a drug card that's available to those that are at the most and the greatest need.
As a physician, I know that, I see that every day. Remember, Medicare Part D is not means tested, so Lou, you would had quality for Medicare Part D when you reach that age, regardless of what your income is.
DOBBS: That's crazy.
COBURN: That's right.
DOBBS: I mean, why would you -- why would you do that?
COBURN: Well, I wasn't here and I lobbied a lot of members to vote against that portion of it. So there's no means testing in it whatsoever. So what we're proposing is a means testing for those people who don't need the benefit that we shouldn't be paying for that now. And if we have to delay it. But that's the last area we should go to in terms of spending cuts. There's tons of waste and wasteful spending ...
DOBBS: Wait a minute. Senator, you can't say that. Congressman Tom DeLay says that this is the most efficient government he can imagine, that there's no fat in this government.
COBURN: Well, I talked with him today about that quote and that was not his quote. And you know ...
DOBBS: Whose was it? Whose was it, Senator?
COBURN: I'm worried -- I'm very -- well, I think -- it might have been manufactured. I'm not sure. The fact is, is we -- I know of $100 billion in cuts that we could make tomorrow that nobody would feel. Nobody would feel. And ...
DOBBS: I hope the White House is on the phone with you.
COBURN: Well, we've been trying to talk to the White House through Josh Bolton and Josh has been receptive to some of our ideas. The president needs to lead on this and I'm hopeful that he will. He did make some great statements Thursday evening about paying for it.
The fact is, as some of your pre and earlier coverage on this shows that we do have a problem and the leaders of this country need to stand up and start making the tough choices, just like your gentleman said earlier. If we would run this government like we run our own affairs we would be in better shape. And we need to start making those hard choices.
DOBBS: Senator, you and Senator Barack Obama have proposed a chief financial officer for this reconstruction and the relief effort.
COBURN: That's right.
DOBBS: But my gosh, don't we have a CFO already? Isn't the Congress supposed to be able to provide oversight? Isn't OMB supposed to provide oversight? isn't the White House, the president of the United States, supposed to be in charge of making intelligent decisions here? It's almost as if we need a minder for what has been an irresponsible government.
COBURN: Well, I -- I wouldn't take issue with any of your criticisms that you just leveled. We're talking about at least $100 billion that's going to go out of the door very, very fast and the history is, is that too often that helps those helping the people who have needs rather than helping those that truly have needs.
And the idea behind this is to give somebody the power to do it ahead of time, before the money is spent. There's no question Congress will do the oversight on it. But we did the oversight on the last hurricane and we found tremendous waste.
And so what needs to happen is we need an experienced executive working for the president that these agencies have to get clearance for before they spend major dollars of the taxpayer's money that's very limited supply now before we waste the first penny. And remember, all this money we're talking about right now isn't our money. It's our grandkids' money.
DOBBS: Yes, and it's a lot of folks need a lot of help along the Gulf coast. Let me just ask you one question. You're a leading conservative in your party. The Republican Party used to stand for prudence in government, and you talked about responsibility. Why in the world not raise taxes to meet the responsibility? It's our responsibility as Americans to take care of our fellow Americans along that Gulf Coast. Don't you think we should be sharing the burden and sacrificing some ourselves?
COBURN: I definitely agree we should be sharing the burden and sacrificing some ourselves. But it's like your child asking you for a raise, when they've wasted their allowance that week as a spend thrift, and say why should I give you a raise, you didn't spend the money wisely. So I will support tax increases, after the federal government trims down its waste. And there's tremendous amounts, and it is wrong to raise taxes on anybody in this country, until we're running this government efficiently.
DOBBS: Senator Tom Coburn, thank you very much.
COBURN: Lou, pleasure to be with you.
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