Posts Tagged ‘Tom Coburn’
January 22nd, 2015 at 8:50 pm
Doctor Pay Raise Increases Medicaid Access

Think rationing health care spending has an effect of which patients doctors see?

A new study released by the New England Journal of Medicine found that Medicaid beneficiaries enjoyed a 7.7 percent bump in the number of appointments doctors scheduled with them when government reimbursement rates increased.

Unfortunately for the poor who use Medicaid, once ObamaCare’s temporary subsidy phased out, states didn’t have the extra money to continue the higher reimbursements to doctors.

And so, it’s likely that doctors will respond to the new (lower) price signal and cut back on the number of Medicaid patients they schedule.

From a policy perspective this study confirms that doctors respond to economic incentives, and that if we as a society are going to help the poorest of the poor get adequate health care Congress and the president need to start prioritizing federal spending so that there’s more money available to help those who need it.

If the folks in Washington, D.C. are looking for a place to start trimming, former U.S. Senator Tom Coburn’s (R-OK) “Wastebook 2014” is a good place to start.

January 28th, 2014 at 4:36 pm
GOP Senators Unveil ObamaCare Alternative

Yesterday, three senior Republican Senators introduced a set of ideas that could eventually turn into the upper chamber’s Obamacare alternative.

The proposal – coauthored by Senators Tom Coburn (Oklahoma), Richard Burr (North Carolina) and Orrin Hatch (Utah) – is a welcome companion to the repeal and reform plan put forward by the House Republican Study Committee (RSC).

The plans share some important elements. Both would repeal Obamacare (though the Senate plan would reinstate certain Medicare changes). Both limit medical malpractice awards in an attempt to cut down on junk lawsuits. And both would increase access to various tax-shielded vehicles like Health Savings Accounts.

An interesting divergence is over whether to allow consumers to purchase health insurance across state lines. The RSC bill does, while the Coburn-Burr-Hatch proposal does not. If allowed, consumers would have more choices, including access to cheaper out-of-state plans for those living in high regulation states.

On the other hand, there is the possibility that insurance companies might cluster in a low-regulation state, leading to a domino effect where all states cut back on coverage requirements or risk losing companies to more business-friendly states. Stripped down health insurance is fine for young and healthy people, but hardly adequate for older and sicker persons. If enough people are priced out of the market, expect the liberal solution to be expanding government programs to cover them.

We know, because that’s one of the arguments liberal defenders of Obamacare used to justify its passage. As Republicans deliberate on how best to reform Obamacare after it’s repealed, figuring out a way to avoid that trap should be high on the priority list.

March 22nd, 2013 at 12:18 pm
Tom Coburn Axes Taxpayer Money for Absurd Research

From Quin’s lips to U.S. Senator Tom Coburn’s ears…

Yesterday, Quin highlighted one of the many wasteful uses of taxpayer money funded by the National Science Foundation, a federal government agency that subsidizes some pretty dubious projects. (Such as the sex lives of ducks.)

Also yesterday Coburn, a Republican from Oklahoma and a committed budget cutter, persuaded a majority of his Senate colleagues to limit NSF political science grants to only those studies that are certified as “promoting national security or the economic interests of the United States.”

Citing just one example, Coburn said that “There is no reason to spend $251,000 studying Americans’ attitudes toward the U.S. Senate when citizens can figure that out for free.”

As I understand it, Coburn’s amendment only curtails political science-related research, meaning that the project Quin cited may still be allowed going forward. Even so, it’s a hopeful sign that Coburn established a precedent for at least one part of the federal budget that aligns national spending with the (true) national interest.

February 22nd, 2013 at 11:09 am
Sequester Kabuki
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There’s no question that the forthcoming federal spending cuts under the sequester aren’t ideal, particularly given the indiscriminate way in which they’ll be applied. Republicans in Congress, however, have rightly determined that indelicate cuts are a better option than a compromise that does little or nothing to arrest the trajectory of our debt crisis (even if they haven’t quite worked out the messaging yet).

Standing firm on that principle means accepting some pretty large cuts to defense, but as Byron York notes in a must-read column for the Washington Examiner, the Pentagon is going out of its way to make the situation seem much worse than it really is:

Over many decades of defense budget battles, the Pentagon has often used a tactic known as a “gold watch.” It means to answer a budget cut proposal by selecting for elimination a program so important and valued — a gold watch — that Pentagon chiefs know political leaders will restore funding rather than go through with the cut.

So now, with sequestration approaching, the Pentagon has announced that the possibility of budget cuts has forced the Navy to delay deployment of the carrier USS Harry S. Truman to the Persian Gulf. With tensions with Iran as high as they’ve ever been, that would leave the U.S. with just one carrier, instead of the preferred two, in that deeply troubled region.

“Already, the threat of these cuts has forced the Navy to delay an aircraft carrier that was supposed to deploy to the Persian Gulf,” Obama said at a White House appearance on Tuesday, in case anyone missed the news.

Some military analysts were immediately suspicious. “A total gold watch,” said one retired general officer who asked not to be named. Military commentator and retired Army Lt. Col. Ralph Peters called the Navy’s move “ostentatious,” comparing it to “Donald Trump claiming he can’t afford a cab.”

… Meanwhile, with a budget higher than it was even at the peak of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, the Pentagon is resisting attempts to force it to audit its own finances. Congress passed a law back in 1990 requiring such an audit, to no avail. Last year, Sens. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., and Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., introduced the Audit the Pentagon Act, which would try again to force a look inside the maze of Pentagon spending.

Now, with the Defense Department sounding the alarm about sequestration, some budget hawks on Capitol Hill are doubtful. “It’s difficult to take these doomsday scenarios seriously when the Pentagon can’t even audit its own books,” says a spokesman for Coburn. “We would argue that the Defense Department has the authority to reprioritize funding toward vital needs and away from less vital spending. As Sen. Coburn has detailed, the department spends nearly $70 billion each year on ‘nondefense’ defense spending that has nothing to do with our national security.”

Yes, the Pentagon does represent some of the most vital spending that takes place in Washington. But conservatives especially should remember that it remains, on many levels, a conventional bureaucracy, prone to defend well-established power centers and jealous of every dollar that comes its way.

The goals of cutting spending and preserving national security are not mutually exclusive.

February 6th, 2013 at 12:45 pm
USPS to End Saturday Service for Letters (Not Packages)

Fox News is reporting a major announcement by the Post Master General today that the United States Postal Service (USPS) plans to discontinue Saturday letter delivery.  The agency would continue to deliver packages six days a week.  (Per federal law, USPS does not operate on Sundays.)

The decision to reduce letter carrying to five days a week is one of the cost reduction approaches advocated by congressional postal reformers such as Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK).  With USPS posting a near $16 billion operating loss last year, the move, at a cost-savings of $2 billion, is one of the changes that could help the agency stay alive.

Unfortunately for those who like letter service, legacy costs like high levels of workers’ compensation use and generous pension guarantees are coming up against the switch by consumers to email and other electronic messaging services.

When looking at the numbers, today’s USPS announcement makes sense.  According to the report, the agency’s percentage of letter deliveries has fallen since 2010 while package delivery rose 14 percent.  Reformers typically want government agencies to act more like businesses to reduce the cost to taxpayers while maintaining an acceptable level of service.  Unless Congress gives USPS more flexibility or some money (currently USPS receives no appropriations), a leaner Post Office, with fewer services, seems like the most likely way forward.

December 28th, 2012 at 12:16 pm
“America Works” Better With Less Welfare

Peter Cove writes in City Journal about the success of America Works, his for-profit company that specializes in getting jobs for long-term welfare recipients:

In the past 27 years, America Works has placed more than 250,000 poor people, with an average of five to six years on the rolls, in private-sector jobs, with an average starting wage of $10 per hour plus benefits. In our New York program, to take one example, more than half of these new workers were still on the job after 180 days. The employers that we have worked with include prestigious companies, such as Time Warner, Cablevision, Aramark, J. C. Penney, and American Building Maintenance Industries. Most of these employers keep coming back, asking for more of our referrals.

In his article, Cove recounts his transformation from welfare-state-liberal to work-first reformer.  The theme throughout is that long job training programs are colossal wastes of time and money compared to the America Works model:

…clients with shaky self-confidence are best served by early success in getting a job, not by long periods of preparation. Our weeklong training sessions are narrowly focused on the attributes and skills needed to land an entry-level job. Our trainers work with clients on the basics, such as maintaining a businesslike personal appearance, speaking properly, preparing a résumé, and showing up on time. Clients quickly learn that success depends on self-discipline and their own motivation and effort.

According to a report by U.S. Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK), as of February 2011, “Nine federal agencies spent approximately $18 billion annually to administer 47 separate employment and job training programs.”  Unfortunately, the Government Accountability Office says that “little is known about the effectiveness of most programs.”

Which do you prefer?  A for-profit company with 27 years of experience getting people into jobs they keep, or 47 cross-cutting initiatives that can’t prove whether or not they are effective?

February 17th, 2012 at 5:51 pm
Growing Support for Ryan’s Medicare Reform 2.0

Back in December I wrote a column defending a Medicare reform proposal outlined by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR).  Unlike Ryan’s “Path to Prosperity” budget resolution that passed the House in 2011, Ryan-Wyden retains traditional Medicare.  However, like Ryan’s original reform, Ryan-Wyden introduces private sector competition by allowing seniors to use vouchers to select the plan – public or private – that they want, with any savings from a less expensive plan landing in the seniors’ pocket.

At the time, Ryan-Wyden was reported as an idea by two policy wonks with no discernable political support on Capitol Hill.  That changed this week when Senators Tom Coburn (R-OK) and Richard Burr (R-NC) introduced a bill that substantially mirrors Ryan-Wyden’s Medicare-plus-competition proposal.  Although both pairings are so far quiet on the similarities between their plans, this is a good first step toward getting a common conceptual framework around an idea that increases competition.

Not that you’d know any this from reading Think Progress’ headline announcing the Coburn-Burr plan as “Two Republican Senators Try to Walk Back Paul Ryan’s Medicare Privatization Plan.”  Indeed, one has to read halfway into the article to discover that Coburn-Burr “is very similar to the bipartisan framework outlined by Ryan and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) last year and adds little to the Medicare reform debate.”

To Think Progress’ way of thinking there is little news value when two conservative Republican Senators introduce an almost identical reform plan to one announced by a liberal Democratic colleague and the most influential Republican Congressman.  Almost everyone else knows better.  With support growing for Ryan’s Medicare 2.0 reform, expect to see more movement Ryan’s way as the year rolls on.

December 22nd, 2011 at 6:15 pm
Taxpayers Footing the Bill to Create Pakistani Version of “Sesame Street,” Video Game Based on Michelle Obama’s Garden
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You’ve really got to hand it to Senator Tom Coburn. In a job where the only real responsibility is to raise your hand from time to time, the junior senator from Oklahoma has taken it upon himself to use the full powers of his office to fight for a smaller, less wasteful government. One of the mechanisms he employs in waging this battle is his annual “Wastebook Report,” chronicling the most outrageous excesses in federal spending over the past year. The 2011 version is now out and well worth a read (assuming you have blood pressure medication nearby). Here are just a few samples from Coburn’s collection of 100 outrages:

  • $35 million of taxpayer money to pay for both major parties’ political conventions
  • Around $500,000 to purchase equity in a Washington D.C. IHOP
  • $120 million in benefits for federal employees who were ineligible — because they were dead
  • Over $100,000 to preserve vintage video games
  • $18 million in foreign aid … to China, our banker
  • $100,000 for a celebrity chef road show in Indonesia
  • $10 million to help develop a Pakistani version of “Sesame Street”
  • Approximately $1 billion in falsely-claimed tax credits for household energy efficiency
  • Nearly $1 million for an online soap opera about single mothers (starring Billy Dee Williams, no less)
  • Over $175,000 to fund a study on the connection between cocaine use and risky sexual behavior … in quail
  • Half a million dollars for research on the trustworthiness of tweets
  • $4.4 billion in wartime contracting fraud
  • Over $200,000 for an online organic farming video game based on Michelle Obama’s White House vegetable garden.
  • $600,000 for research on why chimps throw their own feces.

With this report, Tom Coburn is earning his taxypayer-funded salary. He may be the only one.

November 3rd, 2011 at 2:31 pm
Why the Supercommittee’s Job Should Be Child’s Play

Last week I wrote here about Sen. Ron Johnson’s proposals to save $1.4 trillion over ten years. Today, for the University of Mobile, I add that to proposals by Jeff Sessions, Tom Coburn, Paul Ryan and others to show that significant savings shouldn’t be all that hard.

January 15th, 2011 at 6:47 pm
Is Your Senator in the Upper Chamber’s Tea Party Caucus?

Senators Jim DeMint (R-SC), Mike Lee (R-UT), and Rand Paul (R-KY) have all joined the new Senate Tea Party caucus.  No word yet on movement favorite Marco Rubio (R-FL), or other stalwart fiscal conservatives like Tom Coburn (R-OK).

Politico notes that caucuses are more important in the House because of that chamber’s preference for majority rule.  In the Senate, one member can hold up or kill legislation if he’s willing to filibuster (or usually just threaten it).  Even so, it would be nice to see DeMint attract enough members to the Tea Party caucus so that the Senate has at least one institutional block against runaway spending.

April 20th, 2010 at 1:15 pm
Bloated Bureaucracies & a Constipated Congress

One of the measures of successful politicians is how much legislation they author, sponsor, and pass.  Since the activities can be counted, the more a legislator does, the more he can claim to be “doing something” to justify his reelection.

So it must be frustrating for all the Senators who desperately want to “do something” when colleagues in their own party insist on larding unpopular policies into bills that would otherwise sail through the process.  Though the main energy bill claims enough support to pass, Senators John Kerry (D-MA) and Barbara Boxer (D-CA) are blocking it because its centrist supporters refuse to include the Environmental Left’s demands for cap-and-trade.  When asked to present the cap-and-tax language as a stand-alone amendment, Kerry and Boxer balked because they don’t have the 60 votes to attach it.

Who can blame them?  After the large scale corruption of the legislative process to pass ObamaCare, why wouldn’t a Democratic lawmaker think that rules only apply to Republicans?

Happily, adding text to the United States Code isn’t everyone’s definition of a good legislator.  Senators like Jim DeMint (R-SC) and Tom Coburn (R-OK) pride themselves on reducing the word count of the nation’s legal regime.  Less law means less room for bureaucrats to expand their reach.  Let’s hope the Democrats’ insatiable demand for more government continues to be an obstacle to passing any new laws.

January 26th, 2010 at 5:45 pm
Vote Alert: Coburn Amendment to Debt Hike
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The following was distributed to all Senate offices today:

Key Vote Alert: H. J. Res. 45, the Coburn Rescission Amendment

Center for Individual Freedom Urges All Senators to Vote “Yes” on the Coburn Rescission Amendment

On behalf of its 250,000 activists and supporters nationwide, the Center for Individual Freedom (CFIF) urges all Senators to vote “Yes” on the Coburn amendment to H. J. Res. 45, the statutory debt limit increase.

CFIF supports numerous aspects of the amendment, including the more than $120 billion in federal spending reductions through the consolidation of duplicative government programs.

For example, the federal government currently has over 20 programs dedicated to reducing obesity. Because President Obama has pledge to “eliminate wasteful redundancy” in our federal budget, all Senators should support the Coburn amendment to reduce the nation’s bloated budget.

As the Senate considers yet another $1.9 trillion increase to our national debt, it only makes sense that our political leaders should take some strides toward reducing wasteful and duplicative spending. The Coburn amendment is one of many steps needed to reduce our staggering national debt.

For these reasons and more, CFIF urges all Senators to vote “Yes” on the Coburn amendment. Moreover, CFIF also opposes the $1.9 trillion debt limit increase and calls on Congress to further cut spending rather than recklessly add to the nation’s out-of-control debt.

Update: The Coburn amendment was defeated by a 37-57 vote.

December 17th, 2009 at 5:08 pm
Senators Meet Santa
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Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) is one of the few good guys on Capitol Hill.  He and Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) have taken the lead to stop government-run health care in the Senate.  In fact, they’re using every procedural tool under the sun to defeat the Senate’s disasterous version of “reform.”

According to The Hill newspaper, DeMint is even prepared to go so far as to slow debate and force Christmas Eve votes.  As DeMint noted, “I think it’s our responsibility to stretch this out because every day we do we have time to tell Americans what’s in it.”

For those of you looking for something interesting to watch over the holidays, the Senate will likely be in session on Christmas Eve.

This is the final push against government-run health care.  If you haven’t done so already, call your Senators at 202-224-3121 and tell them to oppose the Senate health care bill.

December 16th, 2009 at 3:03 pm
Update: Senate v. Tom Coburn
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The Senate can be a magical place sometimes. Taking advantage of a clever procedural tool, Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) has forced the upper chamber to read a 767-page amendment out loud.  (One has to feel sorry for the people reading the amendment.)

Senator Bernie Sanders (Socialist-VT) introduced his single-payer amendment to the health care bill but Senators DeMint (R-SC) and Coburn put their foot down.  They are now using all available procedural tactics to kill the bill, even if they have to kill the voice of a few Senate staffers in the process (a worthy sacrifice).

Senator Coburn commented, “We’re going to understand what single-payer is all about and read the bill.”

If you’d like to understand more about socialist health care, click here or here.  More of CFIF on health care here.


Senator Coburn did battle once again with Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) and the exchange was priceless.  Senator Coburn asked that Senators fully read and understand the bill before they voted.

Senator Baucus, we’ll say, was less than optimistic about the comprehension level of his colleagues. The video (one minute mark) displays our nation’s sad state of affairs.

October 15th, 2009 at 11:26 am
Nobel Laureate Got Big Federal Bucks
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Last week, two Americans were awarded the Nobel Prize for Economics.  Thanks to our friend Paul Krugman, it was recently revealed that one of the winners, Elinor Ostrom, received a massive amount of federal funds during her career, in addition to her $167,018 salary at Indiana University.

The National Science Foundation (NSF), an organization tasked with promoting the progress of science, has given over $16.7 million in inflation-adjusted grants to Professor Ostrom.  This figure includes a hefty $9.8 million (inflation-adjusted) grant in 1971, when Professor Ostrom was just six years removed from her Ph.D.

Obviously, given her recognition and achievements in the fields of political science and economics, she put this $16.7 million to good use, but with that much money one could only imagine what else could have been achieved.

With lobbying heavyweights like the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers, there are plenty of voices lobbying for more education funding.  Everyone is trying to get a piece of the $3.6 trillion federal pie, and these groups are effective at ensuring more federal dollars go toward education funding.

Senator Tom Coburn has seized on NSF funding and has recommended the elimination of political science grants.  With over $147.7 billion in endowment wealth for the top ten Universities alone, there is plenty of higher education money available.  If Harvard dedicated just 1% of its endowment to research funding, it could provide life-time grants to 22  “Elinor Ostrom’s” every year (over $365 million in total).

Senator Coburn often likes to make the point that you don’t practice charity through the federal government.  You practice politics and favoritism.  With so much private wealth already accumulated in the nation’s universities and other foundations dedicated to promoting education, has the market really failed to invest in education?  If universities are as esteemed as they are in this country, couldn’t they afford a small investment in research grants?

October 1st, 2009 at 11:22 am
The Senate Doctors Show
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No one knows our health care system better than doctors.  Thankfully, there are several in Congress, including Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK), who understand that a government-run system would lead to rationing and a lower quality of care.

Here is a clip from one of the recent “Senate Doctors Show.”

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August 12th, 2009 at 9:05 am
Tom Coburn’s Health Care Reform
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Proponenets of ObamaCare continue to claim that those of us opposed to a government takeover of health care have not introduced a viable alternative.  Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK), however, has introduced The Patients’ Choice Act (S. 1099).

The bill would:coburn_c_200dpi

  • Equalize the tax treatment of health insurance and provides all Americans with a tax credit for the purchase of health coverage and care.
  • Incentivize States to establish Health Exchanges which would guarantee health coverage to any consumer, regardless of health status, age, or pre-existing condition.
  • Reduce waste, fraud, and abuse. The Patients Choice Act would change this by using existing data-matching technologies and intelligent payment structures to replace the current “pay and chase” culture with one of “prevent and control” to ensure timely, accurate, targeted payments of taxpayer dollars to providers.
  • Prevent Tax Increases and prevent higher deficits.
  • No government-run health care plan. Under the Patients’ Choice Act, if you like the health plan you have, you can really keep it.

You can read the bill yourself here.