OTR Interviews

Coburn: Obama Plan a Big Tax Increase, Not a Jobs Bill

Sen. Tom Coburn sounds off budget cuts in the GAO and Pres. Obama's deficit reduction plan

 

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," September 20, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: He says it's not a jobs bill, it's just a big tax increase. That is Senator Tom Coburn speaking and he is talking about President Obama's jobs plan, which he wants to pay for with his deficit plan. But there's more. Senator Coburn tips us off to what is happening to the government agency that is exposing billions in waste and fraud. We spoke with Senator Coburn earlier tonight.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

VAN SUSTEREN: Senator, nice to see you, sir.

SEN. TOM COBURN, R-OKLA.: Good to see you.

VAN SUSTEREN: Now, I know you've had a chance to look at the president's deficit bill, or jobs bill. What do you think about it?

COBURN: Well, it's -- it's a big tax increase. That's basically what it is. If you look at it, it's maybe $81 billion in spending cuts and $1.45 trillion in tax increases. That's not a jobs bill.

Matter of fact, just read a report from UBS (ph). The number one detriment to job creation in this country is the president's health care plan. Businesses aren't going to hire people that they know they're going to be mandated to cover. And so that's the number one thing keeping people right now from hiring new people is because they know next year, and the middle of the year after that, they're going to have to have an additional benefit that they don't now cover.

VAN SUSTEREN: Now, yours and my -- and I say it lightly -- favorite issue -- and (INAUDIBLE) is that about a year ago, you're the one who commissioned the GAO to do a report on waste and fraud. And I still have it sitting on my desk. There's news about GAO and they're now getting cut.

COBURN: Well, it's very disappointing to me that the Appropriations Committee would cut the members of Congress budget 3 percent, but cut the only effective tool that we have to actually help us with oversight 8.5 percent. And what you need to do is ask them why they would dare do that.

VAN SUSTEREN: Why -- why are they doing that? Why -- why does GAO get cut -- GAO virtually gets ignored anyway. I haven't seen anyone do anything with that report, which is, you know, astounding. But why is GAO getting cut so much and Congress isn't?

COBURN: I don't know. I think -- I don't know the answer. I have some suspicions. I don't know that they're accurate. But actually, they've showed up -- they're doing the job that the Appropriation Committee should be doing. And they're helping those of us that care about waste, fraud and abuse and duplication in the government show what -- how much stupid -- how many stupid things go on and how many things we're funding that don't have any good results. And they're helping us do that. And of course, who funds that? The Appropriation

So it very well could be payback, as far as I'm concerned. When you're going to cut them three times what you cut the members, there's something wrong with that. And they're a highly -- it's a tremendously professional organization, highly competent, dedicated employees that want to help fix our country. And the Appropriation Committee's gutting them.

VAN SUSTEREN: I mean, that's astounding. I mean, it's one thing for this report -- I mean, this report -- and I haven't read it. I mean, it is -- it's pretty masterful in terms of identifying easy waste and fraud to get rid of the government -- and it's pretty astounding that virtually I've seen no action on it. And now I'm hearing from you that their -- now their budget is getting cut so the very people who...

COBURN: Well, there is -- there has been some action. We actually passed a reduction of $5 billion. But then the bill got withdrawn. I offered that same amendment this last week on the FEMA bill. And 10 of the people who had voted for it before voted against it. So they don't want the elimination done. So you can see it's political vote when you know that nothing's going to happen with it. When it's actually going to do something about it, actually cut $5 billion out of the government, they didn't vote for it.

VAN SUSTEREN: Do you think they just don't understand it or get it and just sort of carelessly vote because I have a real hard time understanding that any member of Congress, House or Senate, would ever vote against getting rid of waste and fraud. I -- I just -- you know, I really have a hard time.

COBURN: I don't think that calculus goes there, Greta. I think the calculus is, is what looks good for my next election.

VAN SUSTEREN: It can't be that bad, is it?

COBURN: Well, I think it is a lot of times. If you look at all -- well, just look at this -- why did we go from 64 to 54 votes on the exact same vote. Why did they do that?

VAN SUSTEREN: Why? I mean, it's astounding to me!

COBURN: Because they're playing the party line, rather than what's good for America. They're voting on what's best for a party. And Republicans do it, too. What's best for the party, rather than what's best for the country.

And so I'm pretty cynical. I'm here -- I've been here six-and-a-half years, more than that. I've actually seen from it the inside. It is so disappointing to me to see people not take a courageous stand and do the right, best thing for our country because of some political consideration. And that's -- that's why we're in the trouble we're in, is we have careerists (ph) here and the number one goal is next election, not next generation.

VAN SUSTEREN: But this shouldn't be a Republican, Democratic thing. This should be your ability to sleep at night and have a good conscience. If there's easy waste, get rid of it!

COBURN: There is easy waste. There's $350 billion of easy waste if Congress would actually inform themselves and do the hard work and fend off the interest groups that want the waste, that get the money for nothing and don't accomplish anything with the purposes. We could -- we could do -- go a long ways in fixing our country.

But it takes hard work. You actually have to study. You have to know it. And you have to be able to go out and not be afraid to defend what you're cutting because everything that we cut has an interest group that is living off of it. They're sucking off of it. It's wasteful. It doesn't accomplish anything. But they're getting the money.

And so you -- people -- politicians avoid confrontation. And our country can't afford that anymore. We have to confront the very fact that we're bankrupt already, we just don't know it. And we need real action right now to actually eliminate $300 billion or $400 billion a year in our government.

VAN SUSTEREN: Senator, thank you, sir.

COBURN: Good to be with you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)