Tom Coburn has been one of the very few people in Washington who really do deserve some praise as far as their actions in regards to spending, deficits and the debt ceiling. Even though his personal opinions are far to the right in every way I've seen, he's chosen to be among the very small group of champions for fiscal sanity, in the Gang of Six.
Even though I'd put him behind the other five in that group, given how he quit a few weeks back and has since come back into the fold to produce their plan, that puts him ahead at least four fifths of his collegues in the U.S. Senate, who haven't put nearly as much political capital on the line to get something substantive passed.
That being said... his comments about the right wing, and totally impossible to pass, "Cut, Cap and Balance" plan amount to utter childishness. He himself has been working with a group of senators to put together a plan that had a chance of passing for months. He knows that something like drastically cutting the federal budget quickly, capping how much the governments spends at a historically very low rate (when several structural costs to the system are higher than they've ever been, and wont be going down) and then passing a balanced budget amendment to the constitution is impossible.
Among other things, it would take cuts to entitlement spending in the neighborhood of the Paul Ryan plan that no sane observer thinks has any chance of making it into law. Everyone knows this, and yet he decides to call those who disagree names.
But he thinks that anyone who voted against it (it failed in the Senate on Friday) are cowards. From The Hill:
Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) said on Thursday that despite his endorsement of the Gang of Six deficit-reduction plan, he still supports the House GOP's "cut, cap and balance” proposal and believes a vote against it would be a sign of "cowardice."
"The best way to solve our problem is the bill we are going to be voting on Saturday morning," saidCoburn, referring to a procedural vote scheduled for the weekend.
“And come Saturday morning when members of the Senate vote against proceeding on 'cut, cap and balance,' they will display either courage or cowardice," said Coburn. Coburn predicted the Saturday vote would fail and that the bill would never technically reach the floor because some Senators are “cowards.”
I wonder what his constituents would think about being called cowards, as polling shows a comfortable majority of the country is against such drastic cuts. I also wonder what sort of zealous ideological blinders it takes to make someone who has a very different view of the world into a coward in someone's eyes, just because they disagree with them. I wonder why someone would say such things, while working closely with three people who are among those cowardly masses who disagrees with them.
Everyone knows the cut, cap and balance is a political play. No sane observer thinks it has any chance of passing, and yet Coburn chooses to personally attack everyone who is against it. I used to have a lot of respect for him... I can respect someone who sees the world drastically differently than I do, if they can work with people who disagree with them and not make things personal. But with a stunt like this he shows himself to be just another adolescent politician who reacts to not getting their way by throwing a tantrum and calling people names.
He should know better than to do something like this, and voters should have higher standards than to support candidates who can't hold themselves to standards of behavior parents don't accept in their children.
Solomon Kleinsmith is a nonprofit worker, serial social entrepreneur and strident centrist independent blogger from Omaha, Nebraska. His website, Rise of the Center, is the fastest growing blog targeting centrist independents and moderates.