Special-interest groups, and not the tea party, caused the 17-day government shutdown, Sen. Tom Coburn said Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press."
"We didn't do anything except create a big mess in Washington, and I'm not so inclined to think it was the tea party as much as it was outside interest groups and a few individuals within our party that took advantage of that situation," Coburn said.
All the bickering about the Affordable Care Act distracted Americans from the fact the government spends too much, he added.
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"I think focusing on Obamacare takes you away from the larger picture," Coburn said. "We just raised the debt limit for a period of time, and that's kind of like saying we're going to raise the legal limit for blood alcohol thinking we're going to control drunk driving. We're drunk up there in terms of spending money."
He said public confidence in the country has been shattered by the recent bout of political infighting and "until you have leadership that brings our nation together … we're not going to solve these problems."
"A large percent of the American public knows that Washington wastes money, they just don’t have a clue of how bad it really is," Coburn said. "We lost the message there of what really needs to happen in Washington."
As for the rollout of the healthcare legislation, the Oklahoma Republican thinks it's doomed.
"Obamacare's going to fail on its own right," he said. "The fact is, is the sick people are signing up. The healthy aren’t, and they're not going to because the deductibles are so high, the cost is going to be high, and the penalty's not great enough to force them to do it."
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