The Corner

The Left Loves Tom Coburn

As Grover Norquist lobbies for votes on our homepage poll, he is also drawing attention to a glowing Washington Post editorial about Sen. Tom Coburn’s (R., Okla.) position on what ought to constitute a “tax increase.” It’s a rave review from an audience that conservatives don’t often strive to impress:

…The conservative Oklahoma Republican, after bravely signing onto the relatively balanced package crafted by the president’s fiscal responsibility commission, had been part of the Senate’s bipartisan Gang of Six working to translate that framework into legislative reality. He has taken a leave of absence from the group. Now is the moment for him to return. Mr. Coburn’s conservative bona fides are unassailable. His renewed participation would give necessary comfort to other Republicans who understand that tax revenue must be part of the ultimate agreement but have been unwilling, unlike Mr. Coburn, to say so publicly. Whatever the disagreements that led him to leave the gang, they cannot be so serious as to outweigh the urgency of action.

“The problem is too big for us to take pot shots at each other on what we think is a political point. And we need to get down to the real business of having a plan that gets this country out of the very real difficulties we face. The very fact that we do not know when the problem is coming, the very fact that we cannot control our own destiny unless we start taking action now should give us all chills,” Mr. Coburn said on the Senate floor. That was last December. This is late June, and the debt ceiling is fast approaching. This could be Mr. Coburn’s moment to be the grown-up his party seems to be missing. If not him, then who? If not now, what will happen?

It’s hardly a surprise that the left has latched on to Coburn in the context of the deficit debate, but the whole “if only more Republicans were as brave as him” shtick is entirely disingenuous because it naturally assumes that this is the only thing standing in the way of a grand bargain to raise the debt ceiling and dramatically reduce the deficit. Regardless of whether or not you agree with Coburn’s position on taxes (vote in our poll, if you haven’t already), he has stood up to one of the most influential lobbyists in his party. Can the same be said of any Democratic senator?

Andrew StilesAndrew Stiles is a political reporter for National Review Online. He previously worked at the Washington Free Beacon, and was an intern at The Hill newspaper. Stiles is a 2009 ...

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