Tom Coburn

  • Aired:  05/02/12
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Senator Tom Coburn discusses his book "The Debt Bomb" and why the debt crisis is a symptom of government inefficiency and conservatives' tax paranoia. (7:53)

( CHEERS AND APPLAUSE )

>> Jon: WELCOME BACK.

MY GUEST TONIGHT THE JUNIOR UNITED STATES SENATOR FROM THE GRATE GREAT STATE OF OKLAHOMA.

HIS NEW BOOK IS CALLED, "THE DEBT BOMB: A BOLD PLAN TO STOP WASHINGTON FROM BANKRUPTING

AMERICA." PLEASE WELCOME TO THE PROGRAM,

SENATOR TOM COBURN.

HOW ARE YOU?

( CHEERS AND APPLAUSE ) THANK YOU FOR JOINING US.

>> GLAD TO BE HERE.

>> Jon: I WANTED TO CONGRATULATE OW YOUR BOOK.

IT'S CALLED "THE DEBT BOMB." I WANTED TO SAY, YOU KNOW, I WAS

THEEP SEE-- A LOT OF TIMES THESE BOOKS ARE POLEMIC, AND THEY'RE VERY BELITTLING OF THE OTHER SIDE.

I FELT LIKE YOU REALLY WERE-- THIS FEELS LIKE A BOOK THAT STAND ON PRINCIPLE.

I CONGRATULATE YOU FOR THAT.

>> THANK YOU.

>> Jon: AND YOUR CHOICE OF SAN SERIF AS THE FONT ALSO I THOUGHT WAS AN EXCELLENT MOVE IN

A BIPARTISAN WAY.

HOW-- HOW BAD THE DEBT-- THE DEBT BOMB, HOW BAD DO YOU FEEL LIKE OUR DEBT IS FOR US?

>> WELL, IT'S A PROBLEM FOR US,

BUT IT'S ONLY-- THE DEGREE OF SEVERITY OF IT DEPEND ON HOW WE REACT TO IT AND WHETHER OR NOT

WE WILL ADDRESS IT.

THE LONGER WE WAIT, THE HARDER AND MORE DIFFICULT THE PAIN, AND

THE POLITICAL CLASS' WHOLE GOAL WAS TO NOT ACCEPT IT AND DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT BECAUSE IT

AFFECTS THEM PERSONALLY IN TERMS OF THEIR REELECTION.

>> Jon: WHEN YOU SAY "AFFECTS THEM PERSONALLY" YOU MEAN IN THE SENSE OF EARMARKS,

LIKE THEY CAN'T BRING THINGS BACK TO THEIR DISTRICTS OR--

>> WELL, FOR EXAMPLE, THERE'S NO WAY IN FIVE YEARS WE CAN BORROW

ENOUGH MONEY TO FUND MEDICARE.

I MEAN, WE WON'T BE ABLE TO DO THAT.

SO RATHER THAN SAY LET'S FIX MEDICARE NOW SO THAT WE CAN STILL KEEP COMMITMENTS TO THOSE

THAT ARE DEPENDENT ON IT.

LET'S LOWER THE LONG-TERM COST AND DO IT IN A WAY THAT IS MINIMALLY PAINFUL.

WAITING FOR FIVE YEARS THEN ALL OF A SUDDEN, WE'RE GOING TO BE MAKING VERY DIFFICULT CHOICES

THAT IN THE LONG TERM WILL HAVE DEVASTATING IMPACTS ON THE PEOPLE THAT WE SAY WE WANT TO HELP.

>> Jon: NOW, IS IT-- YOU KNOW, THERE'S A VARIETY OF CAUSES TO THIS.

THERE'S SPENDING, BUT THERE'S ALSO REVENUES, TAXES, AND POLITICAL NECESSITIES.

THERE'S WARS AND POLITICAL UN-NECESSITIES LIKE SOME OF THE WARS ( LAUGHTER )

>> GOOD POINT.

>> Jon: I CAN'T HELP BUT THINK THAT THE DEMOCRATS APPEAR

TO BE TRYING TO OFFER A VARIETY OF PLANS-- YOU MAY NOT THINK THEY'RE THE MOST EFFECTIVE-- BUT

THEY SEEM TO OFFER A MIX OF RAISING REVENUE THROUGH SOME INCREASED TAXES, CUTTING

SPENDING THROUGH THE-- I GUESS THE 10:1 DEAL THAT WAS SUPPOSEDLY OFFERED.

DO YOU THINK THAT YOUR SIDE OF THE AISLE HAS BECOME INTRACTABLE ON THE TAX ISSUE AND THAT HAS

LED TO SOME OF THE DEBT ACCUMULATION AND THE PROBLEMS?

>> WELL, I THINK WE-- WE AT LEAST SHARE HALF OF THE BLAME FOR WHY WE'RE IN THE TROUBLE

WE'RE IN.

>> Jon: WHICH HALF?

( LAUGHTER )

>> WELL, TAKE YOUR CHOICE.

I DON'T CARE.

THE POINT IS, IS WE HAVE NOT DONE WHAT WE NEED TO DO.

I WOULD PUT OUT TO YOU THE SPEAKER OFFERED $800 BILLION.

WASN'T QUITE ENOUGH.

BUT THE POSITION OF SOME-- OUR SIDE IS NO TAX INCREASE.

AND REALISTICALLY, THAT AIN'T GOING TO WORK.

WE'RE GOING TO HAVE TO MEET IN THE MIDDLE TO COMPROMISE TO SOLVE THESE PROBLEMS.

THE QUESTION IS, IS WILL REPUBLICANS OR DEMOCRATS STAND UP AND DO WHAT IS RIGHT FOR THE

COUNTRY IN THE LONG RUN, EVEN THOUGH IT MIGHT HURT THEM POLITICALLY TO GET THIS, BECAUSE

IN THE LONG RUN, EVERYBODY LOSES THE LONGER WE WAIT TO SOLVE THESE PROBLEMS.

SO IF REPUBLICANS SAY, "OH, WELL WEMENT LOW TAXES." AND THE DEMOCRATS WILL SAY, "WE

WANT TO MAKE SURE THOSE THAT AREN'T CARED ARE ARE CARED FOR," BOTH OF THEM END UP GOING

AGAINST THE VERY CORE VALUES OF WHAT THEY STAND FOR BY NOT DOING ANYTHING.

ACTING NOW IS THE TIME TO DO IT.

AND OF COURSE WE'RE ON A BREAK FROM CONGRESS.

WE'VE BEEN ON A BREAK FIVE AND A HALF WEEKS --

>> Stephen: I THOUGHT YOU WERE GOING TO SAY FIVE AND A HALF YEARS.

I WAS GOING TO SAY, YEAH, I'VE BEEN WATCHING C-SPAN.

>> THERE MAY BE SOME TRUTH IN THAT AS WELL.

>> Jon: YOU KNOW, BOTH SIDES SEEM TO HAVE, OBVIOUSLY,

THEIR PET PROJECTS.

BUT I CAN'T HELP BUT THINK,UN,

I'VE LOOKED AT SORT OF WHAT THE C.B.O. SAYS CAUSED THE DEBT, AND

THEY SAY THE LARGE MAJORITY OF IT IS THE RECESSION AND THE TAX CUTS THAT WERE ENACTED IN 2001.

SO COULDN'T WE MITIGATE THE BOMB, AT LEAST DEFUSE IT FAIR LITTLE WHILE, JUST BY LETTING

THAT EXPIRE?

WHY WAS-- IN 2010, YOUR COLLEAGUES AND YOU ALL SIGNED THAT PLEDGE THAT YOU WEREN'T

GOING TO PUSH FORWARD ON ANY NEW LEGISLATION UNTIL THE BUSH TAX CUTS WERE EXTENDED.

YOU ULTIMATELY ENDED UP VETOING IT.

BUT THERE WAS THAT PLEDGE, AND THAT STRUCK ME AS IF DEBT IS THE CRUCIAL CENTRAL PROBLEM, WHY

WOULD YOU FIGHT ANYTHING THAT WOULD LESSEN THE DEBT IN AT LEAST THE SHORT TERM?

>> THE DEBT IS THE SYMPTOM.

THE PROBLEM IS DOING THINGS THAT ARE NOT EFFICIENT AND NOT EFFECTIVE.

WHEN YOU HAVE $350 BILLION A YEAR THAT NOBODY THAT'S LISTEN TO GO THE SHOW WOULD SEE ANY

CHANGE IN THEIR LIFESTYLE OR ANYTHING ELSE IF WE ELIMINATED AND THEN WE SAY WE WANT TO RAISE

TAXES, THAT'S NONSENSICAL, YOU WOULDN'T DO IT IN YOUR OWN FAMILY BUDGET.

>> Jon: NO, NO-- WELL, MY FAMILY DOESN'T HAVE $350 BILLION, BUT WE WOULD-- WE WOULD

FEEL THAT, CERTAINLY.

( LAUGHTER ).

BUT A FAMILY BUDGET IS DIFFERENT THAN A COUNTRY.

I MEAN, YOU KNOW, WE ALWAYS TALK ABOUT, WELL, YOU WOULDN'T DO IT AT HOME.

BUT I WOULD NEVER, LET'S SAY,

WAGE WAR ON ANOTHER APARTMENT BUILDING.

LAUGH ( LAUGHTER ) ALTHOUGH I WILL SAY THIS, THERE ARE SOME LOUD PEOPLE-- ANYWAY.

BUT, YOU KNOW, THERE IS DEFICIT SPENDING THAT IS AT TIMES A NECESSARY PART OF BEING A COUNTRY.

BUT WHAT SEEMS UNNECESSARY, YOU KNOW, OUR TAX BITE IS IT'S LEVELS WE HAVEN'T SEEN SINCE 1958.

>> YEAH TNEEZ NOOEDZ TO COME UP.

>> IT NEEDS TO COME UP.

>> I AGREE.

WHETHER YOU SAW PAT TOOMEY WHAT HE OFFERED IN THE SUPER COMMITTEE, MANY OF US SIGNED OFF

ON THE SIMPSON-BOWLES.

THE GANG OF SIX, THREE OF US AGREED WITH THREE DEMOCRATS TO PUT FORTH A COMPROMISE.

I DON'T DISAGREE WITH THAT, THE QUESTION IS HOW DO YOU DO BOTH?

HOW DO YOU GET RID OF THE WASTE,

WHICH IS SIGNIFICANT-- YOU KNOW,

THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT IS TWICE THE SIZE --

>> Stephen: ARE THEY CONNECTED, I GUESS?

IF YOU WERE TO MAKE THE ARGUMENT INEFFICIENCY IS A REAL PROBLEM IN GOVERNMENT, I DON'T THINK

ANYBODY WOULD ARGUE THAT.

I THINK EVERYBODY WOULD BE LIKE,

"YEAH, GET ON THAT." WHY DOES ONE HAVE TO BE TIED TO THE OTHER, I GUESS?

>> BECAUSE THE PARANOIA OF THE CONSERVATIVE RIGHT WHEN THEY HAVE DONE TAX INCREASES IN THE

PAST, WHEN IT WAS PROMISED THAT SPENDING WOULD BE CUT, AND NOTHING HAPPENED.

NOW, THEY'RE NOT PURE BECAUSE THEY'VE BEEN EXPLICIT IN SOME OF

THAT-- COMPLICEIT IN SOME OF THAT NOT HAPPENING.

THE POINT IS WE NEED TO DO BOTH AND WHAT YOU HAVE TO DO IS CROSS OR FORGE THE STREAM TO GET BOTH

OF THOSE DONE AT THE SAME TIME.

>> Jon: CAN YOU STICK AROUND?

I GUESS THE HEADLINE IS TOM COBURN JUST CALLED THE REPUBLICANS PARANOID.

"THE DEBT BOMB" IS ON THE BOOKSHELVES NOW.

SENATOR TOM COBURN.

WE'LL BE RIGHT BACK WITH HIM.

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