Coburn conference call: Bailout, Worst Waste of the Year

posted at 11:55 am on December 12, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

Senator Tom Coburn held a conference call with bloggers this morning to discuss his list of Worst Waste of the Year, as well as the failed auto bailout bill.  The WWOTY list details over $1.3 billion in pork spending that should raise eyebrows, which I’ll detail at the end. He called it a “very little tasting” of the stupidity that occurs in Washington, and that there are many more projects just like these.  Washington doesn’t “practic[e] common sense,” Coburn says.  He wants to see Congress apply the same standards that American families do on their own spending.

Quick hits on points raised:

  • Noel Sheppard: The underlying assumptions on employment and revenue in the ’09 budget have fallen by the wayside, and we’re spending a ton more money than the $3.1 trillion budgeted.  What’s your prediction for the deficit next year? — Coburn predicts $1.6 trillion, quadrupling what we have now.  That comes from short-term thinking, and spending without consideration of where the money will originate.  Politicians have no perspective outside the next election.  The reason people aren’t even looking at the numbers is because of this peculiar parochialism.
  • Coburn says he’s already working with the Obama team to reduce duplicate and wasteful spending.  The two of them worked together on budget matters in the Senate, so this doesn’t come as a surprise.
  • Less than one percent of federal programs have metrics assigned to them to measure performance.  For instance, we’re adding billions to LIHEAP even though we will have the lowest heating costs in years.
  • What role do you think UAW had in the collapse of the automakers and on the bailout? — Management signed those contracts, because a strike would have impacted their bonuses.  Short-term management thinking led to those uncompetitive labor costs at the Big Three.  The failure of last night “solely lies with UAW,” Coburn said.  The UAW refused to give a date on concessions, and without concessions, the Big Three can’t compete.
  • Coburn says that the White House signal to give the money from TARP is a “big mistake”.  It will lead to requests from every failing private enterprise to get rescued by the Treasury.  Going down that road would be a “giant mistake”.  The TARP funds were intended to unlock the credit markets, not to provide government rescues for failing private businesses.
  • What about the CRA (Fausta)?  It’s a big problem.  We need to end government distortion of private markets for the purpose of social engineering.  As long as that remains on the books, it will continue to lead to credit crises because it forces lenders to make bad loans.
  • What do we need to do to get Coburn more allies for common-sense conservatism (Dan Riehl)?  We need a better farm team.  We don’t need more career politicians.  America needs long-term thinkers who will take heat in the short term to build long-term success.  Coburn sees a intestinal deficit among some Republicans.  Bloggers need to raise those issues in their blogs.
  • People have to get involved.  They have to start taking risks to get the government they want and to hold it accountable.  We need an organized approach to hold our representatives accountable.  “Shame is a powerful tool.”
  • Coburn says Republicans might actually do better at blocking bad bills with a smaller minority.  The cohesiveness should increase as each remaining member will realize that they have no other power in the 111th Congress except by remaining together as a bloc.  That seems a little optimistic to me, but I hope he’s correct.

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Of the year?

jeff_from_mpls on December 12, 2008 at 11:58 AM

Hold their feet to the FIRE….

DL13 on December 12, 2008 at 12:04 PM

As my senator, im iffy with him. He is a pork buster, but he voted for the $700 billion bailout because he wasnt running for re-election. Inholfe who was running, voted no on it.

To me that says a lot.

RiteWingFascist on December 12, 2008 at 12:05 PM

Best line in his report:

We could say they spend money like drunken sailors, but that would be unfair – to drunken sailors. It would be unfair, because the sailors are spending their own money.

‐ Ronald Reagan on Congress

jgapinoy on December 12, 2008 at 12:05 PM

jeff_from_mpls on December 12, 2008 at 11:58 AM

+1

I like to think (Dream) that someday we could send a similar statesman from Minnesota. One who seeks the common good, not just reelection. Instead we nearly sent Franken this cycle. One of the all time great cartoonists said “We have met the enemy and his is us”

BadDogMN on December 12, 2008 at 12:06 PM

RiteWingFascist on December 12, 2008 at 12:05 PM

Voting for the TARP is gonna be the Dems version of “did you vote for Iraq?”

lodge on December 12, 2008 at 12:11 PM

The auto unions didn’t want to give a mm until 2011.

May the Blago clusterfark and the big-3 ‘bailout’ destroy the unions for good. They had a place, in 1800, but not in this global economy.

The political fallout might hurt those who claim to be “for the people” but to hell with them. They just like to keep their sheeple in a modern day serfdom, for power.

No company can remain competitive with the union set up of today. It’s simply a 21st century reality. The markets might work, after all, give it a year.

GWB, Foxtrott Yankee. I always wanted to say that to a president, while I still am free to do so. This is an applicable moment.

Entelechy on December 12, 2008 at 12:12 PM

“We have met the enemy and his he is us”

;-(

BadDogMN on December 12, 2008 at 12:27 PM

People have to get involved. They have to start taking risks to get the government they want and to hold it accountable. We need an organized approach to hold our representatives accountable. “Shame is a powerful tool.”

Yea. Just ask Joe the Plumber and Bristol.

nolapol on December 12, 2008 at 12:29 PM

Coburn sees a intestinal deficit among some Republicans.

And that’s why they are in the minority. They feathered their own nests.

patrick neid on December 12, 2008 at 12:36 PM

Coburn says that the White House signal to give the money from TARP is a “big mistake”. It will lead to requests from every failing private enterprise to get rescued by the Treasury. Going down that road would be a “giant mistake”. The TARP funds were intended to unlock the credit markets, not to provide government rescues for failing private businesses.

Those credit markets were private businesses too. There’s a bit of a disconnect in Coburn’s thinking here. In the end the target of any act by the Government has to be the continued well being of the “people on Main Street” as the candidates so adroitly put it.

Even Coburn would have given the money to the automakers if the UAW had signed on.

What is going on here is merely the nature of the medicine and who’s allowed to swallow it and in what doses. We expect the medicine to taste bitter, and when the UAW wants sugar in theirs, they can’t expect the rest of us to provide it.

I factory-ordered a car, and a UAW strike idled that car on the assembly line for six weeks, and when I got the car, it spent 90 days of its first year in the shop, and was missing parts essential to its safe operation. The UAW earned my undying enmity from that incident and I’ve never bought an American car since [I love my Hiroshima-built Mazda 3 -- it's the best car I've ever owned.]

Again, the UAW can stuff it where the sun don’t shine as far as I’m concerned.

unclesmrgol on December 12, 2008 at 12:39 PM

Two words: term limits.

ex-Democrat on December 12, 2008 at 1:07 PM

Big Three Bailout – Give Me a Break (Video) (5min) (John Stossel, 20/20)

Poptech on December 12, 2008 at 1:35 PM

Japan and Germany just won WWII with the help of the Confederacy.

rokemronnie on December 12, 2008 at 2:54 PM

This guy Coburn is a doctor. They do not have to compete with anyone. The AMA sets their rates, and the government funnels billions of dollars to them everyday. And they are among the richest people in America. If workers have to compete with foreign workers, if industries have to get along without government assistance, how about health care professionals doing the same thing? It is only fair.

Terrye on December 12, 2008 at 5:26 PM

Coburn, Worst Waste of the Year

unclesmrgol on December 12, 2008 at 12:39 PM

Well, I hope you enjoy people passing you. Especially when it’s folks with V6 Mustangs, recent Grand Prix’s, multitudes of Cobalts, and base 300M’s passing you by. An old Dodge slogan comes to mind – except your only choices are follow or get out of the way.

Maybe you should have been wiser to accept a car not on the end of an assembly line. Rejected a 1999 Astro that was and it’s replacement served faithfully ever since.

Entelechy on December 12, 2008 at 12:12 PM

Trying to get all your cheap shots in before Reaganism gets thrown out?

Coburn is a man who is in the wrong place at the wrong time.

sethstorm on December 12, 2008 at 6:09 PM

We need an organized approach to hold our representatives accountable. “Shame is a powerful tool.”

How does it stack up against “withering contempt” and “unbridled fury”?

ss396 on December 12, 2008 at 10:45 PM