Tom Coburn’s Scattershot Wisdom

As the old saying goes, a stopped clock is right twice a day. Or, to put it another way, if you kill everyone in the room, you’re bound to get the one bad guy. This is the approach to government spending favored by noted lesbian hunter, Dr. Tom Coburn, Oklahoma’s slightly less wing-nutty junior senator. He spoke to a town hall in Wagoner, OK and made clear that he thinks the government should not be spending money on things like over-priced F-35 aircraft that the military doesn’t want. Which is good.

Of course, in the same town hall, he also claimed that health care reform and the Dept. of Education are also examples of bad government spending. Which is idiotic. He’s just so enamored with his image as “bulwark against DC pork” that he casts a net over every single thing the government does. There’s a reason he’s earned the nickname “Dr. No”. And it just wouldn’t be a Republican gathering if there wasn’t some requisite poor-bashing, with the good Dr. and his constituents alike bemoaning how generous welfare benefits are and how “no one ever got a job from a poor person”. This all plays quite well in conservative, rural OK, even though Oklahoma ranks high on the list of receiving federal welfare. It’s been noted before, but look at how many of the states who pay the least in taxes and get the most back from DC happen to be Republican red states. Just a coincidence, I’m sure.

This is the problem with Coburn’s (and most of the rest of the Republican line, including the misguided caterwauling of the Teabaggers) logic concerning spending. While his desire to spend less on waste can be helpful when applied to actual waste (like the aforementioned F-35), his adherence to a “no spending whatsoever” mantra would result in a national calamity, including in Oklahoma. One wonders whether he sees his own senatorial salary and benefits package as unnecessary too. It’s no surprise that he offers this anti-government boilerplate to his faithful base back home. They have been conditioned since the Reagan years to think the government is the source of all their ills when the truth is that government spending is crucial to our economic survival. To just paint all spending as waste, especially in the areas of health and education, is lunacy aimed only at driving the vote in November.

You can see from the comments on the Tulsa World article that many Oklahomans buy the snake oil Coburn and others are selling. Until the brainwashing of our populace is effectively countered, then voters will continue to be blissfully unaware of how much they depend on Washington even as they gleefully bash it all day long. Tom Coburn is undeniably targeting some of the bad guys when it comes to spending. The problem is that his solution is to shoot all of us in the hunt.

(cross-posted on


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