Tom Coburn has been a friend and mentor to me and so many others and his leadership in Washington will be dearly missed. Our prayers will be with him and Carolyn as he continues to serve the cause of freedom from his home in Oklahoma.
No one has shown more courage, tenacity and dedication to holding government accountable for waste and overspending than Tom Coburn. He has fought for American taxpayers every day because he knows that we shouldn’t forcibly take a dollar out of the pocket of hardworking families unless it is absolutely necessary. He has never lost sight of who he’s working for and why he volunteered to serve, because he cares deeply that this is a nation of ‘We the People.’
While so many still feel Washington isn’t listening, Tom saw the coming fiscal crisis and heard the people’s fears long before movements like the Tea Party ever began. I still remember Tom’s floor speech in 2005, the first year we served together in the Senate. He talked about the growing rumble of discontent that would shake up Congress if we didn’t end the pork barrel politics and begin responsible budgeting. He understood that we were headed for a fiscal crisis and he has never stopped fighting to protect Americans.
Tom, that rumble of frustration is louder than ever before. And thanks to you, more people in Washington have been forced to start listening. We can only thank providence that you were brought here for such a time as this.
The Growing Rumble – Tom Coburn
October 20, 2005
I wish to speak first before I offer some amendments to this bill about something that has been troubling me and the people from Oklahoma and many of the people across this country for a long time. The question is, Why should we be troubled? Because all change starts with a distant rumble , a rumble at the grassroots level, and if you stop and listen today, you will hear such a rumble right now. That rumble is the sound of hard-working
Americans who are getting increasingly angry with out-of-control Government spending, waste, fraud, and abuse. It is the sound of growing disillusionment and frustration of the American people. It is the sense of increasing disgust about blatant overspending and our ability to make the tough choices people on budgets have to make each and every day, our inability to make priorities the No. 1 priority rather than spending our children and grandchildren’s future. That is a rumble of frustration that is getting louder. In fact, I hear it right now. That is because I am listening for it. We should all listen for it. If we don’t, the voters will decide the changes that will come. And I can’t say that I blame them.
Politicians have been trying to buy reelection by sanctioning more and more spending for years. Since 2000, discretionary spending in this country outside of defense and outside of homeland security has grown by 33 percent, and that does not include any of the $400 billion in emergency designations that have been passed by the Congress and signed by this President. We have the very great prospect that the spending over the last 5 years and the next 3 years will be the greatest growth in Federal spending ever in our history in terms of percentage increase and speed and velocity of spending increases. And we will have made it possible when we should have been fighting it every step of the way.
I am not here to remind us about the Alaska bridge to nowhere, although I will have an amendment on that later, or the countless earmarks and pork projects that sail through this Chamber every year. Everybody knows about that. Many of them are great projects, they are needed, they are necessary. They just may not be in the best priority for our Nation at this time.
That is what I am hearing. What I am here to tell you is that the rumble against spending is getting louder. People are fed up. All across the country, Americans are rising up against Government overspending. They are tired of hearing about perpetual budget crises when tax revenues keep rising faster and faster. They are tired of the dishonesty of the budget process where we say we have a $320 billion deficit, and yet the debt to our children and grandchildren rises by $600 billion because everything is done in an emergency and does not follow the appropriations and budget process.
They know that for every dollar of increasing tax revenues, we have, both Republicans and Democrats, found a way to spend another $1.25. That is the crisis. It is a spending crisis. It is a lack of oversight crisis. It is a crisis of our will. Do we have the willpower to stop overspending, to make the hard choices about priorities that the American people expect of us? If we don’t, the people certainly do. That is why there is a rumble building across this country. The people are tired of waiting for us to do the right thing. They know it will not happen, so they are working at the grassroots level to get the job done themselves.
People are working to change the rules in States all across this country… These groups are getting an incredible response, and the reason why is simple: The American people are absolutely furious at the waste, fraud, abuse, and out-of-control spending they see every day, not just here in Washington but in their own State government.
We need to wake up. I say let us change first. Let us find our will. No more low-priority projects in the face of half-trillion-dollar deficits, no more exorbitant bridges to nowhere. Speaking of bridges, that is where this Congress will be, on a bridge to nowhere if we do not gain control of ourselves. And if the voters finally rise up and reject us as the Congress that spends too much, we will have gotten what we deserve. You don’t need to take my word for it. Just take a minute and listen to the voices of the people we represent. They are ready to rumble . They are getting louder. Are we listening?