Coburn Talks Debt, Takes on Critics

by Andrew Stiles

Sen. Tom Coburn (R., Okla.), on hiatus from the Gang of Six, sat down with ABC’s Jon Karl for a “Subway Series” interview to discuss the debt crisis.

On why he left the Gang of Six:

We were at an impasse on what we could do. If you can’t get past an impasse there’s no reason to sit there and keep doing the same things back an forth. . . . What you need to do is back off, see if you can do something different.

On solving the debt crisis:

The longer we deny the reality that we have to fix it, the more difficult it’s going to be to fix it — that’s number one. Number two: somebody may be telling us what we’re going to do, kind of like the EU is telling Greece right now. Do we want to get in that position, or do we want to control our destiny?

On the need to reform entitlements:

It’s dishonest to the American people to tell that we can solve our problems and not touch Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security. It can’t happen So why don’t we be honest and bring the country together and say, okay how do we solve it in the best way, to take care of those that need it the most and ensure that it’s available for those that need it the most in the future.”

#more#On his forthcoming proposal to cut $9 trillion:

We’re going to show everybody where you can cut $9 trillion over the next 10 years. It’s not a budget I’m just going to say, here, American people if you want to solve the problem, pick from this group of things. Here’s a way to do it.

Some of it’s painful. Everybody’s going to have a little pain. But if we want opportunity and a prosperous future, we have to take a little discomfort now to get there.

On the debt ceiling and the prospect of default:

I don’t think we’ll default on our debt even if we don’t increase the debt ceiling.

Does [the debt limit] mean anything? Not in modern times because every time we come to it we just borrow more money.

If I’m a bondholder of U.S. bonds the thing I’d want [to see] is have they done the things to fix [the problem] to where my 30 year bond is going to be repaid versus have they done something in the short-term [by raising the debt ceiling]. . . . I’d choose the former over the latter.

On the S&P decision to downgrade U.S. debt outlook to “negative”:

You can easily make a case that we don’t deserve a triple A rating. . . . I would downgrade us in a minute…knowing what I know.

On Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform:

People like him who are a lobbyist have to use hyperbole to justify their positions….I don’t care what he says, he’s like a fly on the wall.

If you’re scared of Grover Norquist you have no business being up here.

On others who criticize him for “wanting to raise taxes”:

Nobody believes that we’re going to get a bipartisan agreement without some way to increase revenues for the federal government.

Do I want tax rates to rise? Absolutely not. Will I fight that? Yeah. Would I agree to a plan that would create a great economy and that would markedly increase revenues to the federal government? You bet.

On Newt Gingrich’s comments about the Paul Ryan budget:

Nobody can be critical of what Paul Ryan has done. He’s the only one out there with a plan. When you have a plan, then you have the right to be critical of what Paul Ryan has done. If you haven’t put a plan on the table, you need to keep your mouth shut.

Video here and here.

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