Monday, September 08, 2003

The party of fiscal "responsibility"

Those Republicans sure are holding those purse strings tightly:

We sorely miss those wonderful lunches that Tom Coburn, the former Oklahoma Republican House member, used to give to Hill interns...

But the family physician, who came to Congress in the 1994 Gingrich Revolution and, unlike so many others -- you know who you are -- stuck to his three-term limit pledge, is also missed as a true believer, someone who actually came to town to make government smaller and shrink the pork.

Now Coburn, who returned to his family practice in Muskogee, has written a book with former press secretary John Hart called "Breach of Trust." The book, out this week, talks about why the revolution fizzled after so strong a beginning and offers insider views as to what went -- and continues to go -- wrong in the ludicrous waste of taxpayers' dollars.

The book opens with a vignette from the spring of 1999. Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) is already gone as House speaker, and Coburn is off trying to give Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) a "spinal transplant" to provide him the "the fortitude necessary" to slap down Appropriations Committee members bent on busting the caps of the 1997 Balanced Budget Act.

Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.), then majority leader, popped in to talk to Hastert about funding for the F-22 fighter plane. After a few minutes, Coburn weighed in again to urge fiscal restraint.

"After I finished my speech," Coburn writes, "Lott looked at me, rested his chin on his hand, and said in his Mississippi baritone drawl: 'Well, I've got an election coming up in 2000. After that we can have good government.' "

A vote for a Republican is a vote for pork barrel spending. There's no two ways about it.


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