There is a lot of rhetoric floating around as the primaries near, but former GOP Sen. Tom Coburn said Tuesday that not much is being said about the real problem facing the United States: nearly all the nation's major benefit programs are in serious trouble.
"Why are we not addressing right now in this presidential debate the fact that Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, federal employees retirement, and military retirement, are all going bankrupt?" Coburn told CNN "New Day" host Chris Cuomo. "We don't have the money to pay them."
Last year, Coburn said, the government added $4.6 trillion in unfunded liabilities. and "actually accumulated $5 trillion worth of debt, and we're to the point now where every taxpayer is on the hook for a million bucks...why aren't we fixing the real problems?"
The nation's woes could be helped through a convention of states, under which a balanced budget would be forced under generally accepted principles, Coburn said, which would force limits in the scope and jurisdiction of the federal government.
Meanwhile, Coburn said he hasn't watched much of the current presidential wrangling because it's still very early in the race, people like Donald Trump and Ben Carson are ahead because they appear authentic and "that's the real deal."
"It's not about knowing everything," he continued. "It's about what do you feel, how do you feel about it and can you express your inner feelings in a way that's not politically correct, but still careful to not judge other people?"
Coburn said one of the reasons he left the Senate was because the "real problems" weren't being fixed.
"Most people in the Senate and the House are career politicians and they're conflicted over doing the right thing for the country versus the right thing for their re-election," said Coburn. "What gets lost is that is the fact that the American people's needs, wants and desires take second place."
There are some GOP presidential candidates, like New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, addressing such issues, said Coburn, but for others, "they're wanting to get elected more than fix the system."
One candidate, former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, did get unqualified praise from Coburn as being "authentic and sincere," even though he said it's too early for him to endorse anyone.
"She's smart, capable, and has worked her way up from a very low position to a very high position," said Coburn. "She's experienced toughness in terms of her business dealings. She's experienced success and failures."
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