Coburn talks pork

Duncan_Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn (R) is one of the most outspoken members of the United States Senate.  From the time he ran for the job, to today, Coburn says he's been on a mission to "Change the culture of the United States Senate."  He met with Stephens County constituents on Thursday to talk about everything from the upcoming Presidential election, to healthcare, to the war on terror.  He also talked about his most passionate fight of all - to cut government waste by eliminating federal earmark appropriations and pork barrel spending.

Coburn, a medical doctor from Muskogee, says the Senate is playing favorites with taxpayer money, and he tried to stop it a week ago - at least temporarily.  The vote was 71-29 against the proposal.  Afterward, Dr. Coburn said it proves the Senate has a "sickening addiction" to special interests.  He says he believes he can change the Senate by working on who people are at their core, and not only for Democrats.

Coburn says he believes Republicans in his own party will lose seats because of their support for earmarks - or, as he calls them - "special appropriations."  He says these earmarks are not competitively bid on, and often benefit political campaigns.  "I'm telling you, 85-90% of the people in this country don't want it to happen anymore," he says.  "So it can be over in Washington, but it's going to be manifested in the next election cycle."

The Senator told audience members of a Duncan town hall meeting, that the federal government is only making the national debt worse by not eliminating what he calls wasteful spending.  For example:  "$8 Billion per year paying performance bonuses to Department of Defense contractors who did not meet the performance earmarks," he says.  It's only a fraction of the $300 Billion Coburn says he and other senators have identified as wasteful, or fraudulent, spending.  "That equates to you taking 15-20% of your personal budget and throwing it down the stool," he says.

To Coburn, and many of his supporters, it seems so cut and dry.  So, why the hesitation on the Hill?  Coburn says the amount of money wasted by the Federal Government each year would be enough to run the current Oklahoma government for 60 years.  Although he said he was not campaigning for Senator John McCain, Coburn did site several examples on how he says McCain has also gone against the popular votes on Capitol Hill.