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MS. KELLY: Republican Senator from Oklahoma Dr. Tom Coburn joins me live this morning from the Capitol.
Senator, good morning.
SEN. COBURN: Good morning. How are you?
MS. KELLY: Your reaction to that statement by Senator Chuck Schumer.
SEN. COBURN: I just think he's disconnected with the vast majority of Americans. They know pork is related to inside access. They know it's related to campaign contributions. They know it's the way members of Congress grease their reelection. I think the American people care immensely and I think he has missed what is probably the greatest thing that's undermining confidence in Congress today is that we do things for ourselves, not for our country in its best long-term interests.
MS. KELLY: You know, obviously, this bill passed in the Senate; you opposed it. Only three Republicans voted in favor of it.
SEN. COBURN: I did.
MS. KELLY: Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania and the two senators from Maine. I wanted to ask you because Barack Obama at his prime- time news conference came out on Monday night and started hammering the Republicans, saying, you know, it takes time to change things in Washington. These guys are used to doing business as usual and suggesting that you just don't get bipartisanship and that's why virtually none of you signed on to support this bill.
Your response to that, sir?
SEN. COBURN: Well, I think if President Obama had to do it over again, he'd probably do this in a different way. He's got to sell this package; it's his package even though Nancy Pelosi and those that would want to socialize a good portion of America have written it. He has to get it passed. He can't fail. And so the gloves come off to say that we don't want to participate.
I don't know of one Republican senator who doesn't believe we need a stimulus package. What we don't need is an increase in the forever spending of the federal government by about $300 billion additional per year that will never go away and that's exactly what this bill does.
MS. KELLY: You know, one of the things that's happening now as the conference takes place and they try to reconcile the differences between the House bill and the Senate bill is the number of dollars that are going to be allocated to state governments. The House wants it to be $79 billion. The Senate passed a version that gives them about half that, about $40 billion.
You say whatever we give to these state governments' takes us down a very dangerous path and teaches the states some very dangerous lessons. Tell us.
SEN. COBURN: Well, I think number one is we don't know how to manage the federal budget, and consequently, we've put our country into a pretty big jam. We're going to teach the states to not be responsible as well that there's no consequences to growing your budget five times faster than your population. You don't have to make hard choices and the rest of the taxpayers in this country will bail you out.
If you take the states that have rainy day funds who have managed their states well that will get through this well because they saved and didn't grow, you're asking all the members of their states to pay taxes for the states that were irresponsible. Half of all the deficit comes from one state, California.
MS. KELLY: Right. Are we essentially bailing out California?
SEN. COBURN: And California's budget has almost doubled in five years. That's right. That's what we're doing, we're bailing out California and the fact is there's nothing wrong with helping the states as long as you're loaning them money. When you're giving them money, you set in motion a very bad precedent that will come back to haunt us year after year.
MS. KELLY: You know, the three senators who crossed over from the Republican side to support this bill have said that if after the conference committee comes back with a reconciled bill, if it has significant changes, if it's not, quote, "intact," they may vote against it.
Do you think there's still any chance of killing this thing?
SEN. COBURN: No, I don't. I don't think they'll vote against it even if it is significantly changed, you know, the philosophy is we're going to have a giant $12,000 per family spending bill. We're going to come with another bill real soon, that's $6,000 per family, all of that borrowed money and then Geithner is going to probably want $2 trillion, which is another $24,000 per family. I don't know how we get out of this mess without either having hyperinflation or marked decrease in standard of living for our kids and grandkids.
MS. KELLY: It's basically the grandkids are going to pay this bill, isn't it?
SEN. COBURN: You bet, you bet and it's generational theft and I know that's an overused term, but it belies the heritage of the country that one generation sacrifices so the next has greater opportunity, and we're turning our back on that. Rather than take the pain now, let the markets close the banks that need to be closed, let the people lose the assets that are overvalued relative to the work, let's take the pain and let's get out of this and then let's start working together as a country.
MS. KELLY: Well, Senator Coburn, pleasure speaking with you. Thanks so much for being here.
SEN. COBURN: Good speaking with you. God bless you.
MS. KELLY: All the best.