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Dr. Coburn Says Increase in Debt Limit Reflects Growing Breakdown of Fiscal Responsibility in Washington

Press Release

Location: Washington, DC

Dr. Coburn Says Increase in Debt Limit Reflects Growing Breakdown of Fiscal Responsibility in Washington

September 27, 2007

U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-OK) released the following statement tonight after voting against a measure to increase the federal debt limit by nearly 10 percent, or $850 billion, from $8.965 trillion to $9.815 trillion.

"We are increasing our debt limit by nearly a trillion dollars because the President and both parties in Congress have failed to make tough choices between competing priorities. Families across America don't have the luxury of loaning themselves new money when they have maxed out their credit. By raising the debt limit, and blaming everyone but itself, Congress has helped earn its all-time low approval rating of 11 percent," Dr. Coburn said.

"Every child that is born today owes more than $400,000 as their share of our government's unfunded liabilities. Congress and future presidents will continue to raise the debt limit and imperil our future until the American people say ‘enough' and force their elected officials to do what they do every day, which is to make choices and live within their means," Dr. Coburn said.

Congress has increased the debt limit six times since 1997. At the same time, earmark spending has skyrocketed. Between 1996 and 2006, the cost of earmarks more than tripled, increasing from $19.5 billion to $64 billion, according to the Congressional Research Service.

"Instead of working to reduce the national debt, Congress has instead chosen to gorge itself on pork projects like peace gardens and bike paths. The President could have restrained Congress in this area but he did not offer the Bridge to Nowhere and other egregious projects. The American people understand the principle that whoever is unfaithful with a little will be unfaithful with much. If we hope to earn the level of trust that will be required to address our massive unfunded liabilities in Medicare and Social Security we have to begin by showing some restraint in the smaller areas of our budget," Dr. Coburn said.

"For this reason, I'm especially disappointed that only weeks after passing brand new ethics laws, the Senate has now decided that it is okay to add new earmarks to conference reports and that it is okay to hide the identities of earmark recipients from American voters and taxpayers. Instead of spending its time trying to figure out how to continue to raid the federal treasury without getting caught, Congress should do its job and make choices that will serve the next generation, not either party's fortunes in the next election," Dr. Coburn said.

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