Sen. Tom Coburn talks about what he’s hearing from constituents and some of the goings-on in Congress.
The emotion in the country is really interesting. You hear a lot of people talk about anger. It’s not anger. It’s absolute fear. People are petrified about the future about everything from health care to judicial nominees. It seems their foundational confidence is shaken, economically and from an individual-rights perspective. And it’s not just conservatives in Oklahoma who feel that way.
There’s a real recognition that the future may not be as bright as we always assumed it would be. I think it’s now starting to filter up to Washington. The Obama administration doesn’t get it that they need to send strong signals of stability and ability to plan. The reason we’re having a slowdown isn’t because there weren’t the right factors to have continued growth, it’s because they’re such confusing signals for capital investment.
People lack confidence. Everybody’s right now protecting themselves rather than risking. You don’t get growth without some risk taking.
Extending tax cuts
I think that the pressure will build that those [Bush] tax cuts will be extended. I think there’s a good chance the pressure will build and it will be extended for those that make more than $250,000. The last thing we need right now is a tax hike in our economy.
What I’m hearing is there’s a genuine concern that the future’s not secure for their family. That’s a different emotion. Anger goes up and comes back down. Fear goes up and until the things that are disconcerting people go away, it stays. It’s a bigger modifier for behavior over a longer period of time than anger is. We need people to be able to see with confidence that things are going to be OK. I’ve talked to the president multiple times about it.
The U.S. Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan is scary. She believes precedent trumps original intent. That really scares me. That says our wisdom is so much greater now that we don’t have to pay attention to the founders. If you follow her philosophy, we would’ve never had Brown v. Board of Education. Precedent would have said you couldn’t do that…. She believes in use of foreign law to interpret the U.S. Constitution. I don’t think the hearings do us any good because they don’t tell us anything. What they’ve said and done before is more telling.
Troop withdrawal and Arizona
The withdrawal deadline was set there as a political statement to the left so they don’t go crazy when you send 30,000 more troops. It had no purpose militarily. There was no strategic objective. It disadvantages us. It undermines confidence, undermines our commitment. It was done for political reasons. That’s how the Obama administration operates. Like the deal on the Arizona law. There are already five suits against it. There’s no reason for the federal government to file suit and ask for an injunction. That’s all political. It has nothing to do with the basis of fact. It has everything to do with politics.
Defining success in Iraq
If you measure success on taking down a dictator and re-establishing a semblance of democracy if it actually progresses and functions, then from that standpoint, yes. If you measure it from the lives lost and what we accomplished and what we spent, I don’t think so.