Dr. Coburn Statement Opposing Passage of Stimulus Bill


By:  Thomas Coburn
Date: Feb. 10, 2009
Location: Washington, DC

U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-OK) released the following statement today after voting against the so-called stimulus bill.

"Instead of writing a bill that will work, Congress passed a bill that puts the ideological interests of one party ahead of the economic interests of the nation. The foundational principles behind this bill were tried and failed in the 1930's. This bill represents the worst act of generational theft in our history. This bill will add $10,800 of debt to every American family with little hope of a return on our investment. If the economy improves it will be in spite of, not because of, this bill," Dr. Coburn said, citing a CBO report that predicts the stimulus bill will cause our GDP to shrink over the long term.

"One reason the public is skeptical of this bill is because bill authors made zero effort to eliminate any wasteful spending to help pay for this package even though Congress wastes at least $300 billion every year. Few families in America have the luxury of avoiding tough economic choices. Yet, career politicians in Congress refused to make any tough choices because they didn't want to offend the special interest groups that finance their campaigns. The bill also includes a grossly irresponsible bailout to states that will reward states that refused to live within their means while punishing states like Oklahoma that planned ahead and set up rainy day funds to make it through economic downturns. When this bill becomes law, states will no longer have the incentive to live within their means because they'll assume the federal government will be there to bail them out," Dr. Coburn said.

"This package continues to divide Congress and the country because it is 90 percent social policy and 10 percent economic policy. Congress could have passed a bipartisan bill that was truly focused on stimulating our economy and job creation in the short-term. Instead, this bill is packed with policy changes that should have been debated in another context," Dr. Coburn said.

"For instance, this bill lays the groundwork for a Soviet-style Federal Health Board that will put bureaucrats and politicians in charge of our nation's health care system. In other countries like the United Kingdom, such boards have led to health care rationing and greatly reduced cure rates for diseases like breast cancer. As a practicing physician, I believe we should trust doctors and patients, not politicians and lobbyists, to make decisions about the cost and effectiveness of health care products and treatments. Greatly expanding government's control over health care under the guise of information technology development will create a severe backlash among the American people," Dr. Coburn said.

"Finally, as the House and Senate resolve the differences between the competing bills, I would urge President Obama to force Congress to remove the earmarks from this bill and ensure that Congress retains my amendment that requires contracts to go through a competitive bidding process. What matters more than the back and forth in Washington about the definition of earmarks is how the American people will react when they discover the egregious pork projects and special interest provisions in this bill. Republicans underestimated the public's disgust with politics as usual earmarking. I hope the President and congressional Democrats will learn from our mistakes. If history is any guide, a bill of this magnitude will lead to considerable waste and embarrassment to its authors if we fail to build in accountability, competition and transparency into the process now," Dr Coburn said.

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