Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Muskogee, gave a speech to the Ripon Society this morning. Here are some quotes and a video provided by the Ripon Society, a centrist Republican think tank founded in 1962.
“The last time we had any significant cut in spending was in 1995,” Coburn said. “So the fact that the subject matter has changed and we have everybody talking about a different hypothesis – that is, rather than growing government, we’re talking about shrinking government — you can’t overstate the importance of that. I really think we are in a new day of politics in our country. The reason is that American families are living within their means, and that’s what they desire for us to do. You have seen this big Tea Party movement. But you have also seen the polling in the Democratic Party that 74 percent of registered Democrats want government spending cut. Now think about that — that is a tidal wave shift in their base. We need to remember, no matter what we’re doing, that their supporters also want us to live within their means.
“And so the question comes: ‘How do we sort out the conflicts of living within our means and still protecting those who need our help?’ History has not been kind to nations like ours. The average age of the world’s republics is about 212 years. We’re past that. And almost every republic has fallen for exactly the same reasons — they have fallen because they have lost control of their fiscal matters. They weren’t defeated first and then lost. They lost control of their fiscal matters. Will Durant said, ‘a great nation is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself from within.’ And if you really think about where we are in terms of our potential, if we continue down the path and don’t right the ship in a way, we have a limited history. And what I think we need to do — and I know what the American people, no matter what their political persuasion, want us to do — is cheat history. We can cheat history. What has happened to other republics doesn’t have to happen to us.”
“We can cut a trillion dollars tomorrow out of the federal government and nobody will know the difference except for the people that lose their jobs working for the federal government. That’s how much waste there is. If you look at what the GAO put out after looking at the first third of the federal government and the waste and duplication that they found, there is $600 billion a year that we can save just through duplication. We are putting out a report on the National Science Foundation this week, and there is $2 to $3 billion a year in waste and duplication just within the NSF. And that’s a small little agency. The way you get rid of the $1.5 trillion deficit is $2 or $3 billion at a time.
“You cannot fix the problems in front of us without addressing Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. It is absolutely impossible. And so the choice for us and the country is to recognize that we are either going to fix these things now, or not fix them and be forced to fix them later, not through our own choice but through the international financial community.”