Dr. Coburn Says Funding Bill Continues Business as Usual Politics in Washington
U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-OK) today released the following statement regarding his vote against, H.J. Res. 20, an omnibus spending bill passed by the Senate.
"The American people recently elected a new majority in Congress with the hope of change. Unfortunately, this bill shows that business as usual politics continues to rein. The new majority is continuing the same fiscal irresponsibility, budget gimmicks, and accounting sleight of hand that cost the Republicans their majority," Dr. Coburn said.
"One example of the new majority's dishonesty and irresponsibility is their manipulation of $3.1 billion for defense priorities," Dr. Coburn added. "By cutting $3.1 billion in defense priorities and using those funds for new spending in this bill - while promising to restore the $3.1 billion for defense at a later date - the new majority is playing an Enron-style shell game with taxpayers. The $3.1 billion that will be restored will go directly to the national debt, which will be paid back by our children and grandchildren."
"The ongoing problem in Washington is not the Republicans or Democrats but the triumph of short-term political gamesmanship ahead of long-term vision and sacrifice. Both parties continue to live in a fiscal fantasyland in which hard choices can be postponed indefinitely," Dr. Coburn said, adding that every baby born in America is hit with a "birth tax" of $453,000 as their share of the current and anticipated national debt.
Dr. Coburn also said the majority's claim that this bill was earmark-free was misleading. Unless ongoing earmarks are explicitly rescinded or prohibited by Congress, which is not accomplished by this bill, or blocked by President Bush those earmarks may continue to be funded.
Dr. Coburn offered six amendments to improve the bill. Unfortunately, the Democratic leadership refused to allow debate and a fair up-or-down vote on any amendments. Dr. Coburn's amendments that were blocked from coming to the floor included amendments to:
1) Remove prohibition on "Baby AIDS" program funding (amendment #234)
2) Increase AIDS drugs assistance funding with offsets from the corporate welfare Advanced Technology Program (amendment #235)
3) Extend the existing stop-gap spending bill for two more weeks to allow more debate and amendments (amendment #236)
4) Require public disclosure of government reports delivered to the Appropriations Committees (amendment #250)
5) Increase emergency farm aid with offsets from Community Development Block Grants (amendment #251)
6) Require the Global AIDS Fund to publicly disclose audits and program reviews (amendment #252)