Friday, October 21, 2005

Tom Coburn's Spine of Steel

Breach of Trust: How Washington Turns Outsiders Into InsidersTom Coburn (R-OK) introduced an interesting amendment to a spending bill yesterday. The amendment (S.A. 2112) to H.R. 3058 proposed excising some useless pork-barrel spending. Outside the Beltway described the amendment this way:

This amendment will transfer funding from the wasteful pork project, the “Bridge to Nowhere” in Alaska, to the repair and reconstruction of the “Twin Spans” bridge in Louisiana. According to published reports, the Alaskan pork project costs $220 million for a 5.9-mile bridge connecting Gravina Island (population 50) to the Alaskan mainland. The cost of the bridge alone would be enough to buy every island resident his own personal Lear jet.

Of course, the amendment went down by a vote of 82-15. As Powerline notes:

... [it] was a clarifying moment. The Associated Press says:

[I]n the tradition-bound Senate, Coburn was taking on an unwritten rule that one senator does not attack the projects sought by another.

To tell you the truth, I'm not sure I was aware of that rule. I guess I always assumed that both the Senate and the House made some pretense of trying to spend the taxpayers' money wisely, for the benefit of the nation as a whole. So at least we now know where we stand... So now we know: there are only fifteen members of the Senate who are unwilling to waste the taxpayers' money on even the most frivolous of projects. Let's see what we can do about the other 85.

By taking on most of the Senate's "good old boys" and the FDR-era tradition of pork allocation, Coburn demonstrated some significant backbone. In an interview on the Hugh Hewitt show, Coburn explained his stand:

...we're at war, we've got hurricanes, we've got $600 billion dollars we added to our children and grandchildren's debt this last year. It's time for us to change...

Indeed. And who's with Coburn? Specifically he named Senators DeMint, Ensign, Brownback, and Sununu. Remember all five names. You'll be hearing them again.

This isn't a partisan issue. It's an American issue.

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