A good man hangs up his hat

I’ve known for some time that Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma was retiring, but it’s sad to see the day come at last.  Irrespective of his party affiliation, he’s been ‘a voice crying out in the wilderness’ against government waste, fraud and corruption, rendering a service to the whole nation.  The Washington Times saluted him.

It takes a certain kind of senator to single-handedly block a bill that supporters say would save veterans from committing suicide.

But that’s exactly what Sen. Tom Coburn did last week, facing down withering pressure from veterans groups and insinuations from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid that he will have the blood of veterans on his hands because he’s refusing to let the bill through.

The Oklahoma Republican also held up an energy conservation bill, released a road map for reforming the Social Security disability system, tried to undo one of Mr. Reid’s nuclear option-fueled rules changes and battled with Mr. Reid to try to pass a legacy-building transparency bill that would have forced the executive branch to produce a list of all its programs — all part of one of the busiest weeks any departing senator has ever had.

He cast his final vote as a senator Tuesday night, and was the first to flee the chamber floor, returning to the citizen part of “citizen legislator.” By Wednesday afternoon he was back in Oklahoma, driving to his home in Muskogee.

His next challenge as an ex-senator: pushing for a balanced budget amendment through an Article V convention — a method of amending the Constitution through a call of the states, which has the benefit of going around the entrenched interests in Congress.

. . .

… in his farewell speech last week, Mr. Coburn made the case for individualism.

“The magic number in the Senate is not 60, the number of senators needed to end debate, and it is not 51, a majority. The most important number in the Senate is one — one senator,” he told several dozen of his colleagues who had come to the floor to hear him speak. “The Senate has a set of rules that gives each individual member the power needed to advance, change or stop legislation.”

He also read his colleagues the oath of office they take, in which they pledge to defend the Constitution. He urged them to pay attention: “Your state isn’t mentioned one time in that oath. Your whole goal is to protect the United States of America, its Constitution and its liberties. It is not to provide benefits to your state.”

There’s more at the link.

Senator Coburn excoriated waste of taxpayer dollars and pork barrel projects in his annual Wastebook, chronicling incidents uncovered during the year in question.  His final Wastebook for 2014 (link is to an Adobe Acrobat document in .PDF format) included these fripperies.

I’m worried about the prospects for an Article V Constitutional Convention being hijacked, but it may be the only way to force a balanced budget on our spendthrift legislators.  If safeguards can be built in to accomplish that purpose without extremists from either the left or the right of US politics being able to hijack the convention for their own partisan ends, I’ll support his efforts.

I hope and pray that Dr. Coburn’s ongoing treatment for cancer (which caused his early retirement) is successful, and he’s given time to enjoy a well-earned retirement and time with his family.  He’s done this country proud in Washington, something one can say of all too few politicians.  Thank you, Dr. Coburn, for your service.



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