Today, this Oklahoma native was fortunate to stumble across the text of a 35-page speech delivered on the floor of the U.S. Senate March 13 by a man for whom I have the greatest respect and admiration, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.).
Although that speech received little or no attention in the form of mainstream media coverage, I truly believe it should be required reading for every American citizen who cares about the future of this nation. Why? Because the drug war this nation should be fighting is the war against earmarks, the stuff Coburn describes as “the gateway drug for overspending.”
The text of the first nine paragraphs of the speech appear below, followed by a link to a PDF of the document. I encourage you to read it — all of it — and then share it with everyone you know.
* * *
“Mr. President, I am going to spend a little while tonight talking about the budget. I have listened to the budget debate all day, just like I did yesterday. I cam in yesterday and listened to the debate. I have heard about tax increases and I have heard about spending and I have heard the things going back and forth. But what I did not hear was anything that had to do with this: This is the oath of a Senator. There are some interesting things. Let me read it first:
I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.
“The interesting thing about that oath is nowhere in that oath does it mention your State. There was, by design, never any intended part by our Founders that we would place parochialism ahead of our duty to this country. Yet where do we find ourselves today? With $9 trillion, almost $10 trillion, at the end of this fiscal year, in direct debt.
“We have heard all sorts of numbers quoted today. The actual number for the obligated unpaid-for liabilities that our next generations will face is actually $79 trillion. It is interesting where that comes from because that comes from the retirement benefits for our service personnel, the retirement benefits for Federal employees, including people who work in this Chamber, Medicare payments, Medicaid payments, all the various trust funds we have set up through the years, such as the Inland Waterway Trust Fund, the trust funds associated with other distinct obligations in terms of infrastructure in this country. We are stealing all that money every year that is supposed to go to it. As a matter of fact, the budget deficit this year will be, in real accounting standards — not Enron accounting standards — $607 billion, of which about $160 billion of that is going to come from Social Security and about another $30 billion to #35 billion from all these other trust funds.
“So when you hear a number that comes from Washington, I want us to be very suspect because we are much like the CEO at Enron, Ken Lay. We are not going to send you the real number. It is not because we do not intend to be honest; it is because we have sold out to parochialism.
“Now, I want us to think about that for a minute. Later on, I am going to show some examples. I am going to go through $350 billion-plus worth of waste that occurs annually in this country. But how is it that we have $350 billion — by the way, it is not going to be disputable. there is going to be an absolute reference to either a GAO study, a CBO score, a congressional hearing or published reports that are out there. So it is not going to be Tom Coburn’s estimate. It is going to be a factual basis of what is occurring in this country.
“But how is it we got to the point where Members of Congress – both of the House and the Senate — have all of a sudden forgotten what their oath is; that, in fact, their primary means is: How do I send more money home to my State? How is it that we have gotten to where we have $79 trillion in unfunded liabilities? We have $10 trillion in true debt, at the end of this fiscal year. We are going to have a $600 billion deficit — real deficit — this year, which we are going to obligate our children to pay for.
“I would put forth: We forgot our oath. We forgot what it is about. Our State is not mentioned. When I am parochial for my State, there is no way I can live up to the oath I took when I came into this body. There is no way, if I am parochial for Oklahoma or Ohio, I can possibly make a decision that is in the long-term best interest of the country, when I am thinking about the best interest of my State in the short term.
“So consequently, what came about from that? Well, here is what we saw in terms of earmarks, the growth of earmarks and the growth of Government spending. Isn’t it interesting, we have heard all the debate today about tax increases, but nobody, except Senator Brownback, talked about cutting spending. Here we have the earmarks in 2006. In 2007, there were another 11,800 earmarks. So it went to 12,000 earmarks. But the spending continues to rise. There is a correlation between earmarks and spending, and it is this: Earmarks are the gateway drug for overspending.”
To read the remainder of Senator Coburn’s speech, click here.
Hat tip: Human Events & Ross Kaminsky.
P.S. After reading the article, I hope you’ll feel like I do and will encourage Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain to select Senator Coburn as his running mate. After all, McCain is the guy who claims to be the “go-to guy” when it comes to tackling the issue of overspending by Congress. Now, it’s time for him to pick a running mate who can help him do it.
* * *
UPDATE 3/25/09: The new spelling of the term, “earmarks,” is “EARMARX.”