Mark Twain once observed, "There is no distinctly native American criminal class, except Congress." Today, in this era of horrendous budget deficits, even Twain would be stunned at the magnitude of untouchable fraud and waste perpetrated daily by politicians and government officials, all eager to strip the American wallet of every possible dime in their own selfish interest. And who stands against them?
A guy named Tom Coburn?
Wait a minute ... Wasn't he the guy who pissed off Congress by ranting about the infamous bridge to nowhere in Alaska. As George W. noted back as far back as 2006:
Coburn came to the nation's attention last October when he proposed taking the $223 million earmarked for Alaska's "Bridge to Nowhere" and using it to repair a New Orleans bridge destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. Because this threat to Alaska also threatened Congress's code of comity -- mutual respect for everyone's parochial interests -- his proposal lost by 67 votes. But rather than do the decent thing -- apologize, tug his forelock and slink away chastened -- he refused to stop talking about it, made it an embarrassment to the Senate and catalyzed revulsion against spending that is both promiscuous and parochial.
A lone warrior in a mire of corporate greed, soft money kick-backs, and home-grown sociopathology, Republican Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma and his staff struggle daily to restore some semblance of integrity to Congress. According to their estimates (which agree with mine), our government dedicates upwards of $300 billion per year to fraudulent and wasteful spending, i.e., enough money to build a fleet of spaceships and colonize the entire nation of Zimbabwe in lavish terra-domes on the planet Mars (minus Mugabe).
As I've said before, our government is like a morbidly obese human being, weighted to debilitation by an excess of budget fat resulting from a never-ending infusion of unneeded tax calories. Sure, the calories are good to a point, but once that point is passed, they only create layers and layers of pointless bureaucracy, and stagnant Treasury pools of money waiting to be pirated by the best and brightest. Arguably, the worst thing that ever happened to American government was income tax.
But, oh God, how can we live without it? Well, we've been conditioned my friend. If this government had a single accounting system that worked, if we had zero tolerance for reckless spending, if we stopped allowing the White House to facilitate the thievery, the average American could easily have his or her tax burden cut in half, or even more. Considering that the average American loses 40% or more of his or her income to taxes, is that such a bad idea?
Back to Senator Tom Coburn, also known as Dr. No because he says NO to all types of wasteful spending. Why? Because he understands that Congress is constantly earmarking money for programs and sprees that are not only pointless but often duplicated elsewhere. His yes-man enemies in Congress, like Nancy and Harry (of course), are attempting to end-run Coburn's tactics of delaying wasteful spending bills. Coburn, unlike most yes-woman and yes-man politicians in Congress, is not interested in doing favors to get ahead (he even imposed term limits on himself!), so he rejects earmarks without hesitation. Like any rational being, he understands the true costs. And unlike those without moral compass, he takes responsibility.
How dare he? What could make a politician more angry than a colleague who stands in contrast and in doing so reveals their perpetual complicity and hypocrisy?
According to The New York Times:
[Senator Coburn] said the Senate was shirking its duty by failing to give closer review to the hundreds of bills that slide through by unanimous consent. And he said Congress should not be clearing the way for billions of dollars in potential new spending — even on meritorious projects — without making reductions elsewhere. Fearful of the public debt piling up, he said he wanted the opportunity to at least propose those cuts.
You go Big Tom!