Sequoyah County Times - Coburn Says Public Should Get 'Disgusted'
By Sally Maxwell
U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn, in his final remarks at a town hall meeting held Friday at Western Sizzlin in Sallisaw, told a crowd of about 40 that he was serving in government to get rid of waste, fraud and duplication.
In answer to a question about how to improve government, Coburn said that citizens should become involved, and, if they don't like what the members of their congressional delegation are doing, "send them home."
Coburn said, "The only way you can get something done is send them home. We don't have senators who are interested in what's going on...they are giving you only half truths.
"I think the American public has to get thoroughly disgusted with what's going on up there (in Washington, D.C.) to change it," Coburn said.
Coburn said he works toward four goals.
"One, we don't need to grow government," he said, adding he wanted no duplication in government, no debt left for everyone's grandchildren and wanted to adhere to the U.S. Constitution.
He added that he did not go to Washington to make friends. "My goal is to offend everybody," he said with a smile.
When asked if he would run for presidents, Coburn said, emphatically, "No!"
THE PEOPLES' CONCERNS
Energy, health care, the war in Iraq, trade with China, and immigration were the concerns of many who asked questions.
About energy, Coburn said, "We don't have good energy leadership."
He added about the use of oil from the Middle East, "We are subsidizing the people who want to kill us."
Coburn said there is not much that can be done about the price of oil at this time, but to look to nuclear power for energy and to allow the market forces to work for alternative fuels. He encouraged conservation for everyone.
About immigration, Coburn said, "We can control the border (between the United States and Mexico). The fence is being built...at intermittent areas...and it's highly effective where it's put."
Coburn said he didn't believe the argument that immigrants, legal or illegal, were filling jobs that U.S. citizens didn't want.
"If we have a job shortage in areas, which no one has proven to me, then I'm for creating a worker program," Coburn said.
About products from China, Coburn said the United States had to look at quality first, but then he said that eight products produced in China have been recalled most recently, while "80 American products have problems.
"Most of our trade problems will work themselves out if we had a free flow of money," Coburn added.
Coburn said that China's Communist government and military power are worrisome. Jobs leaving this country for China are another problem.
"But a fair tax would solve that," Coburn said. "Get on line and research that."
The senator said the United States has to be careful and walk a fine line to balance the nation's interests.
About health care, Coburn, who is a doctor and continues his medical practice while serving as a senator, said, "Medicare is going to get worse and worse and worse...and you can be pretty sure we're going to back into national health care."
Coburn said doctors are not lining up to see Medicare patients because "the reimbursement is lower than their (the physicians') costs. But if I sign up for Medicare, I'm not going to turn anyone away."
He continued, "A young doctor can't go through school with a quarter million or a half-million dollar debt and pay it back with Medicare."
Coburn said the health industry should be market run, not government run.
"Did you know that when a patient is diagnosed with cancer in the United States, it takes an average of four weeks to begin treatment? It's 10 months in the United Kingdom. It's called 'rationing of care.' That's what you get with national health care," Coburn said. "When government rations the care, that means bureaucrats are making medical decisions."
Carol Wood, a registered nurse, asked Coburn if he knew that Sequoyah County has the highest incidence of lung cancer in the state. Coburn said he did not know that but would look into it.
"If there is an environmental problem we'll look at it," he said.
About the war in Iraq, Coburn said that people "need to look at where we are today, and what are our options. We can announce we have a failed policy, we can leave or we can win. The Middle East will implode if we leave. If you invade a sovereign nation and leave it in the middle of a civil war, that's immoral. And our grandkids will have to pay for it."
Coburn encouraged those present to visit his Web site, and encourage them to communicate with him.
"You owe it to me to e-mail me, even if you disagree with me. Make sure you give me information about what you think," he said.
After the meeting Coburn visited briefly with some who had personal or localized problems.