Coburn: Senate Cannot Defund Obamacare

by Eliana Johnson

Oklahoma senator Tom Coburn, known in the president’s first term as “Dr. No” for his tendency to place holds on bills he views as unconstitutional or otherwise objectionable, is not on board with the push to defund Obamacare. The reason? “We do not have the political power to do this,” he said on Sunday. He chalked up the existence of the movement, led in the Senate by Republican senators Ted Cruz and Mike Lee, to a “tremendous demand among special interests” to dismantle the president’s signature legislation.

Coburn, a physician, maintained that Republicans will not allow a government sutdown over the issue of Obamacare and, more importantly, simply don’t have the votes to do so. “We are not about to shut the government down over the fact that we cannot, only controlling one house of Congress, tell the president that we are not going to fund any portion of this, because we can’t do that,” he told CBS’s Bob Schieffer.

The Oklahoma lawmaker insisted that despite the focus of many GOPers on the Affordable Care Act, the larger issue facing Republicans is Congress’s out-of-control spending. Alluding to former president Jimmy Carter’s infamous “malaise” speech, Coburn said, “We actually have a crisis of confidence in our government right now” due to the failure to rein in the billions of dollars in waste and abuse plaguing the government.

Coburn’s annual “Wastebook,” which chronicles the most outrageous ways the government spends tax dollars, has become a famous compendium of wasteful spending in Washington.