The public’s outcry over proposed legislation that would have relaxed immigration laws is a good example of what Americans can do to change the direction of the nation’s government, U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., said here Thursday.
Speaking before a capacity audience at the Muskogee Rotary Club, Coburn said the problems facing the nation today may seem grim.
“But I don’t think there are any problems in front of us that we can’t solve,” he said.
The issue of relaxing immigration standards was a 90 percent issue — 90 percent of the public was against it, he said. When the public thought it was going to pass, they rose up and contacted their legislators.
Congress listened and did not pass the measure, he said.
The public needs to keep calling and writing not only its Oklahoma congressional delegation, but every senator and congressman in the United States on issues they care about, Coburn said.
He said he is fighting for more transparency in government and a good first step is the Federal Financial Accountability Act that will allow the public to access records showing where almost every government dollar is spent.
When that act takes effect, the public will discover about 20 percent of all federal funds go to waste, duplication, fraud and inefficient programs.
The next step will be to pass the Good Government Guarantee, where nearly every government program will be reviewed every four years and be subject to cancellation if it does not prove worthy of renewal, Coburn said.
Coburn admits to being a maverick legislator. He does not go along with issues with the idea of getting re-elected. While he still is in the majority, there are now seven legislators taking the same approach as he does and hopefully, that number will increase with future elections, he said.
Perhaps the biggest problem in Congress today is that most legislators are more concerned about getting re-elected than they are in doing what is right for the nation, Coburn said.
He answered several questions from Rotarians and their guests. Two of them were on income tax reform.
He said he has no favorite in the presidential race.
“The one thing I would like to see in a presidential candidate of either party is someone who is running against the U.S. Congress and who is willing to do the things that are necessary to change the things that need changing,” he said. “I feel like we need a president who says we’re not going to do this the way we’ve been doing it.”
That president would override Congress when necessary and take his case to the people, Coburn said.
“If we’re going to right the ship ... we have to have a president who is willing to talk about the defects of careerism in Congress.”