What’s more powerful than Washington’s spending habits? Math

Over the last week, Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) has stated two things that are controversial only in Washington. The first was last Tuesday, when he outlined the real situation surrounding the debt ceiling:

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) claimed Tuesday that a Republican-led refusal to raise the debt ceiling could be a “wonderful experiment” in forcing the government not to spend money on “stupid things.”

During an interview with conservative radio host Sandy Rios, Coburn downplayed warnings from economists, President Barack Obama and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle who have suggested that Congress’ failure to raise the federal government’s statutory borrowing limit would prove economically disastrous for the nation. Coburn argued that because some entitlement payments would still go out amid a government shutdown or debt default, Republicans shouldn’t fear a move to reject raising the debt ceiling.

Unlike the fear mongers who want the spending to continue, Senator Coburn gave Rios straight talk (emphasis added):

“We’re going to collect $200 billion a month if in fact the government were to not extend the debt limit,” Coburn told Rios. “Social Security would be paid, Medicare would be paid, the essentials would be paid. It’s the non-essentials that wouldn’t be paid, it’s the $250 to $300 billion a year in stupid things we do that we wouldn’t pay. It’s the programs that aren’t an absolute necessity that wouldn’t get funded, the things that would be a necessity would get funded.”

Coburn continued, seemingly urging lawmakers consider a vote against a debt ceiling increase.

“It might be a wonderful experiment, regardless who wins the next election or not, just to see if we could live on the money that’s coming into the Treasury and not have to borrow against the future of our children,” the Oklahoma Republican said.

Now, earlier today, the Senator said some more basic truths all Americans need to hear. From National Review’s website, a clip of Senator Coburn on MSNBC:

It doesn’t matter what mode he’s [President Obama] in, and it doesn’t matter what mode the Republicans are in. There’s a power greater than both of them – it’s called math. And the math is going to consume us….

Ultimately, we’re going to do something about those things [the spending problem]….[T]he longer we delay, the solutions for these very big problems, the more painful they’re going to be.

Late last year, this blog has criticized Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) for his willingness to raise taxes on the American people. To be fair, the Senator has all but admitted he wants higher taxes merely to garner support from Democrats for spending cuts and entitlement reform, which is a step above Speaker Boehner’s willingness to compromise on taxes for its own sake. However, it’s still a morally and fiscally wrong solution to what Senator Coburn has correctly said is a spending problem.

To the detriment of the country, most of Washington knows what Senator Coburn knows, but won’t admit it. In Washington, the “stupid things” like unused grant money and duplicated programs seem impossible to cut. Senator Coburn is correct, though, that unless the stupid things are cut, and the unconstitutional things are cut or at least shrunk in size, we will see a financial reckoning unlike anything the nation has seen before.