LOU DOBBS TONIGHT
DOBBS: Our nation's budget deficit is projected to sort of more than $400 billion, and Congress still hasn't come up with any way to slash out of control spending and senseless pork barrel earmarked projects.
My guest tonight, one of the few -- one of the very few -- lawmakers who is battling wasteful Congressional spending, my guest tonight, Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma. His new bill, cosponsored with Senator John McCain, would cut earmarks and stop Congressional spending sprees.
Joining us tonight from Capitol Hill, Senator, good to have you with us.
SEN. TOM COBURN (R), OKLAHOMA: Good to be with you.
DOBBS: Now, you have -- you said Dennis Hastert effectively is just wrong. Dennis Hastert said members of Congress are best positioned to know where to put those earmarks, those red lights in their districts. Why do you disagree?
COBURN: Well, just think about it. Who knows best where to put a stoplight in Chicago. Do you think it's a Congressman? Do you think it may be the city transportation department or the highway department?
DOBBS: Well, you know, I have got to be honest. You win. You've got me convinced and I just hope that about 534 other folks listen up to Senator Coburn. When you look at what's happening, your bill, along with Senator McCain's -- do you think you're going to be able to get anything done?
Because, I mean, this squealing -- and if I may, squealing like pigs -- that we've heard from people like the newly-elected majority leader in the House, John Boehner saying he likes the lobbying, he doesn't think need you need to roll this stuff back. And he's a reformed candidate for your party, by the way, in the House. What do you make of that?
COBURN: Well, I think you need to differentiate between lobbying reform and earmark reform. I don't think you need lobbying reform if you'll get rid of earmarks. Earmarks is the bait, the tool that is used to pass the ever larger federal government that duplicates programs and doesn't do the oversight that needs to be done on those programs.
So I think you need to make sure your listeners are aware that there's a difference between reform of the lobbying process and reform of earmarks. If you eliminate the earmarks, you've taken care of 95 percent of the lobbying problems. I think the other thing is I think we can win if the American people get behind this.
DOBBS: What should they do? What should the viewers of this broadcast, this audience, do to help you and Senator McCain and others, who are really focused on managing this government.
COBURN: Well a couple of things. One, is just to recognize -- you just quoted $400 billion deficits. But the real deficit's a half a trillion dollars. It's the funny way that we take care of money up here that we can claim it's less than what it is. But every earmark last year was charged to our grandchildren.
So everybody out there in your audience that really wants to preserve the culture that we've created, the heritage where we say, "We'll sacrifice for the next generation, to create opportunity and freedom and standard of living," ought to say, "We don't need these earmarks now."
What we need is the government to live within its means and we need to be making the hard choices on what that is, rather than brining something home like 200 museums or $100,00 to the Tiger Woods foundation."
DOBBS: The famous bridge to nowhere.
COBURN: Or the bridge to nowhere. Or $500,000 for a ski track in upstate New York. I mean, these are things that we shouldn't be spending money on now because what we're really doing is stealing it from our kids.
DOBBS: And everyone who wants to deny that there is not a price for what this government is doing in terms of spending is, well, I'll put it gently, they're outright liars. And as you point out, our children, their children, will be paying for this. Senator Tom Coburn, it's great to have you here, as always. I know you've got a vote to get to and we appreciate your time.
COBURN: I do, thank you, God bless you.