Coburn: Budget Deal 'Raises Fees, Steals Money'

Wednesday, 11 Dec 2013 12:23 PM

By Wanda Carruthers

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Sen. Tom Coburn Wednesday slammed the bipartisan budget deal now before Congress, saying it would "raise fees and "steal money" without resulting in any real savings or changes to entitlement programs.

"What we do is we raise fees, raise money, steal money. Raise the costs of pensions for federal workers. Do these other things in the out years that will never be guaranteed to be there. And, say we cut a deal," the Oklahoma Republican said on MSNBC's "Morning Joe."

"I'm real disappointed in the deal," Coburn added, referring to the measure hammered out over weeks of negotiation by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan and Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray.

The Ryan-Murray proposal, which would fund the government through Sept. 30, 2015, raises military and domestic spending, halts scheduled automatic cuts over the next two years, and increases federal transportation security fees on airline travelers. It also includes $23 billion in deficit reduction by extending a 2 percent cut to Medicare providers through 2023, according to The New York Times.

Coburn said Ryan and Murray "two very well-meaning individuals" who "hammered out an agreement to get past a political event [the 2014 election]. But he said their proposal affirms that the Washington establishment is more interested in keeping the status quo on budget issues.

"We're going to raise spending back up, because the political powers that be want to spend more money, rather than be responsible with what we know needs to be done up here — which is hard work eliminating all the stupidity, fraud, duplication that's going on," he said.

"I'm sure it's the best Paul (Ryan) could get. But, it's not anything I can support," the senator added.

Wasteful government spending is ignored in the Ryan-Murray measure, Coburn maintained. He said Congress has failed to be "responsible" once again and noted that he plans to release his annual wasteful spending book again soon that contains "$25 billion in stupid spending" in 2013.

"None of that's addressed in this. None of the waste, the duplication, the fraud. None of it," he stressed.

As an alternative to the Ryan-Murray plan, Coburn suggested keeping sequester levels where they are and eliminating any duplications of services and programs.

"Let's just eliminate duplications over the next year. You can pay two-and-a-half times what the sequester is," he said. "We will have an agreement, and go on and function with government.
Every dollar that you save is a dollar we'll add back on sequester."

Former White House political adviser David Axelrod indicated on the program that he was also disappointed with the deal, noting that "there are some long-term issues that have to be dealt with."

"I don't disagree with Sen. Coburn," Axelrod added. "Anybody who spends time in Washington understands there are savings to be made. And, it's hard to get them, because of bureaucracy safeguards."

"Morning Joe" host Joe Scarborough took issue with the process of lawmakers cutting budget deal behind closed doors and then pressuring members of Congress to support it. No wonder conservatives are up in arms about the agreement, he said.

"Leaders go behind closed doors, come up with this massive deal, and then come out and stick a gun to conservatives' heads and say, 'You either support this, or you are for a government shutdown.'

"That's how they continue shoving these bad deals down our throats," said Scarborough, a former GOP congressman from Florida. "That's why conservatives are repelled by it."

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