Dr. Coburn on Obama’s State of the Union

(WASHINGTON, DC) – U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-OK) released the following statement in response to President Obama’s State of the Union Address:

“President Obama is right to be concerned about the size of our debt and the scope of our economic challenges.  Unless Congress changes course quickly, future generations will inherit crushing debt, high unemployment and limited opportunities.  We simply can’t go on as we have and expect a robust recovery to take root.  We’ve spent too many years borrowing money we don’t have to spend on things we don’t need.”

“However, if President Obama wants to become the transformational leader he is capable of being, he needs to recognize he was given a mandate to unify the country, not drive through the agenda of the ideological left.  This has been a year of hyper-partisanship in Washington because the President and congressional leadership have chosen a hyper-partisan, ideological agenda that has divided America.  If the President brought the political center of the country together he may not always get my vote, but the country would be better off.  Still, I make no apologies for saying no to the obscene abuse of taxpayer dollars that takes place as a matter of course in the United States Senate.”

Calling on only one party to reform itself is not leadership; it is partisanship – no matter how calmly the argument is presented.  The challenges the President inherited were not the product of George Bush but a long legacy of complex challenges beginning with the New Deal, Great Society and Republican complicity in growing the size and scope of government.  The President and every member of Congress understands that the vast majority of our unfunded liabilities are due to the impending bankruptcy and Social Security and Medicare.  Instead of placing blame, we should be working on real solutions that will secure the future for future generations.”

The President can help recover the heritage of service and sacrifice that made our country great by imposing fiscal discipline on Congress now, not until after the next election.  Specifically, the President can force the change he campaigned on by vetoing fiscally irresponsible bills this year – not next year – that increase spending and are loaded with pork.  The best next step on earmark reform would be a Presidential veto of pork-laden spending bills this year.” 


“The President’s support for a fiscal reform commission is well-intended, but the American people believe we already have a commission to confront our debt.  It’s called the United States Congress.  If members of Congress aren’t up to that task we don’t need a new commission, we need a new Congress.”

I fear we will never tackle our big challenges – such as the impending bankruptcy of Medicare and Social Security – when we can’t tackle smaller challenges such as consolidating duplicative programs.  Yesterday, senators had the opportunity to take small steps on the road to recovery but they refused.  The Senate voted to protect a generous six percent budget increase for itself while American families cut their budgets.  The Senate also refused to cut discretionary spending outside of defense and veterans issues by five percent, even though both parties have worked together to double the size of the federal budget in the past decade.  These should have been easy votes for senators.  Instead, they complained the work was too hard.

“The President has unique constitutional powers to force Congress to take at least the small steps it must take toward fiscal responsibility.  If the President backs up his words with real action he’ll find few allies in Congress – though I’ll be one – but he’ll have an army of supporters among the American people.”

“Finally, I look forward to again presenting to the President my comprehensive health care reform proposal – the Patients’ Choice Act – which I introduced in May of last year along with U.S. Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) and Representatives Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Devin Nunes (R-CA).  Our bill meets all of the President’s goals without raising taxes, busting the budget or putting the government in charge of health care.”