• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • Morning Bell: A 'Dr. No' We Can Believe In

    Today both the The Washington Post and The New York Times have front-page stories on Sen. Tom Coburn’s (R-Okla.) use of legislative “holds” to bring debate on spending priorities back to the U.S. Senate. A “hold” prevents the majority party in the Senate from moving forward on a bill until it has been debated. But in this Congress, the liberal majority does not want to debate issues or allow amendments.

    Of the 890 bills that have been passed in the 110th Congress, only 50 of them have been debated. For simply insisting that the Senate debate a bill before it is passed, Coburn has been labeled “Dr. No” by both the Post and Times. If Coburn is Dr. No, then he is a Dr. No our country desperately needs.

    Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) tells the Post, “For those of you who may not know this, you cannot negotiate with Coburn. It’s just something that you learn over the years … its a waste of time.” But the Times disagrees, reporting:

    Even some Democrats have a grudging admiration for Mr. Coburn’s determination. They point out that Mr. Coburn has shown an occasional willingness to make concessions, as he did after long months of effort with Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts, on a genetic nondiscrimination law. And he has worked with Senator Barack Obama of Illinois, a fact that the Democratic presidential candidate has proudly referred to when talking about his ability to reach across the aisle.

    Frustrated with Coburn’s insistence on debate, Reid has bundled 35 separate bills, each with at least one Republican co-sponsor, into one omnibus bill. Reid hopes Coburn’s GOP colleagues will force him to relent. So far Coburn is holding firm: “I am OK taking the consternation of my colleagues. I take my oath seriously.” Coburn is quick to point out he doesn’t even oppose much of the spending in the bills. He just wants to see other federal spending reduced so that our already record deficit does not get worse.

    Coburn, for example, supports a bill that spends money creating a new Justice Department cold-case unit that would investigate unsolved civil rights cases. But Coburn believes we should pay for that new unit by cutting back on Justice Department spending on conferences. The department has spent $312 million on conferences this decade. Reid will not allow Coburn to offer this amendment.

    When Reid isn’t claiming that Coburn refuses to negotiate, he falls back on the claim that the bills in question only authorize money, and that no money is actually spent until an appropriations bill is passed. Coburn ably exposes the blatantly dishonest game senators play when they deploy this argument:

    Now, you will hear the argument over the next 10 days to 2 weeks, as we debate this bill, that these are just authorizations, that it is not money that is actually spent until it is appropriated. But if you go to the Web site of all of the Senators who are supporting these bills, they have already sent out press releases bragging about what they have done. They intend to spend the money. So one of three things comes about from that. One is they plan on authorizing it and spending the money; two is they are just gaming their constituency, they are planning on passing the bill but never spending the money, which is highly unlikely, or three is they just want on the bill so they can get a positive parochial benefit and do not really care whether the money gets spent.

    In 2006, Coburn introduced the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act, which requires the full disclosure of all entities or organizations receiving federal funds. Obama and Sen. John McCain both co-sponsored the bill so that Americans could better hold government accountable for wasteful spending. But that database will be useless unless our elected leaders also have the opportunity to debate and vote to end that wasteful spending. Let’s hope Dr. No wins the fight to have those debates.

    Quick Hits:

    Posted in First Principles [slideshow_deploy]

    10 Responses to Morning Bell: A 'Dr. No' We Can Believe In

    1. John D - NY says:

      If we had more Senators like Dr. Coburn, the USA would be in much better shape than it is today. Too bad the so called Republicans are acting like democrats, and the so called Conservatives are acting like Republicans. We need to get back to our core beliefs, limited government, self responsibility, traditional morale values.

    2. Vicki Eilenberger, L says:

      We The People need more types of the same ilk as Colburn. I for one am going to write to him and cheer him on. At last a man in politics with guts and brains. Halleujah.

    3. Tom Payne, Tulsa, OK says:

      Its DOCTOR Coburn! (He is a practicing physician)

      I have known Dr. Coburn for over 20 years and he is the most HONEST man in politics. He was an outstanding Representative who stepped down after serving exactly as he promised he would. Dr. Coburn does is a good man doing the best job he can for his constituency. He is not always right, I do not always agree with him, but I never doubt he is doing his best to represent me and hold Washington to a higher level of accountability. I thank God every day for Dr Coburn!

    4. Jim Delaney, Rochest says:

      Senator Tom Coburn for Vice President!!!

      We need more Coburns in government to rid the corrupted system of its monumental waste!

    5. Wayne Rivers, San Jo says:

      Mr. Coburn is a Sampson with a jaw bone against the political Philistines of our time.

    6. Jlambert, Pinebluff, says:

      Since McCain has always trumpeted that he hates wasteful spending, it seems pretty clear to me that Dr. Coburn is an ideal V.P. selection. Coburn is also a good conservative, which would bring conservatives back into the fold in voting for McCain. Without a conservative V.P. on the ticket, McCain can forget winning the Presidency.

    7. George S , St. Louis says:

      McCAIN-COBURN 2008 , SEE blogs by googling this ticket…healthcare will become front and center in Sept.-Nov. ; just lke oil and gas was in last 2 months and Dr. Tom Coburn can bat any DEM VP HANDS DOWN in a debate.Look at his Dr.Truth video on the Senate floor on youtube

    8. George S , St Louis says:

      Dr. Tom Coburn – distinguished American patriot, citizen legislator – only one who can really excite the conservative base , all the way up to Virginia. Coburn Ophthalmic – Dr. Coburn's American company based in Virginia actually grew American jobs and before he became a medical doctor and President of his medical school class in Okla. HE GRADUATED WITH AN ACADEMIC DEGREE IN Business and ran a successful American Business making OPTICAL EQUIPMENT AND SUPPLIES in Virginia WHICH ARE NOW ALSO EXPORTED OVERSEAS. He also has the absolute Best Healthcare Plan in America which covers everyone, preserves choice and cuts costs $300 Billion compared to DEM'S WHICH INCREASE COSTS $100 TO THE TAXPAYER.We have to turn out 100% of the base , just like Karl Rove did for W IN 2004 WHEN HE TURNED OUT 4+MILLION evangelicals which narrowly beat Kerry-Edwards BY ONLY 180,000 VOTES IN OHIO.A centrist VP CHOICE will preclude McCAIN from a razor thin victory.

    9. acculanty says:

      Hi Dudes, i would just like to make an intro to everyone at foundry.org

      Your forum is great! Often, when I visit forums, I just come across junk, but this time I was really surprised, finding a helpful forum containing brilliant information. Thanks people and keep the great effort up.

    10. digitalsportwatches says:

      This is another great product form Timex. This baby has it all, and I am completely in love with it. Here is a nutshell review of the zone trainer:
      http://digg.com/users/sheritjackson

    Comments are subject to approval and moderation. We remind everyone that The Heritage Foundation promotes a civil society where ideas and debate flourish. Please be respectful of each other and the subjects of any criticism. While we may not always agree on policy, we should all agree that being appropriately informed is everyone's intention visiting this site. Profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, and other forms of incivility will not be tolerated. Please keep your thoughts brief and avoid ALL CAPS. While we respect your first amendment rights, we are obligated to our readers to maintain these standards. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    Big Government Is NOT the Answer

    Your tax dollars are being spent on programs that we really don't need.

    I Agree I Disagree ×

    Get Heritage In Your Inbox — FREE!

    Heritage Foundation e-mails keep you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.

    ×