Press Room

Jul 21 2010

Dr. Coburn Challenges Senate to Pay for Unemployment Benefits

Files motion to force a vote on offsets

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-OK) has filed a procedural motion challenging his Senate colleagues to pay for unemployment instead of adding to our crushing debt. Coburn has also filed a motion that will expose the Senate’s mockery of its own PAYGO rules.

“If the majority in Congress had agreed to pay for this bill it would have passed months ago. On four occasions the majority blocked the bill from passing because they didn’t want to set the precedent of actually cutting spending to pay for new spending. I have therefore filed two motions that will give the American people the debate they deserve,” Dr. Coburn said.

“My first motion will expose the Senate’s dishonesty about its own PAYGO rules, which require the Senate to pay for legislation is it goes. In reality, PAYGO has meant ‘you the taxpayer pay and we go spend.’ The motion would require the Senate to post on its own website the fact that it has ignored PAYGO repeatedly and voted to add $266 billion to the deficit once the unemployment extension passes.

“My second motion would simply require the Senate to pay for the extension of unemployment benefits, which we all support, by reducing spending on lower priority items. The American people have to make these choices every day and so should Congress. Blocking efforts to pay these benefits is a defense of the obscene amount of waste in the federal budget from earmarks to Woodstock Museums to bonuses to contractors who have not performed.

“Borrowing money to pay for unemployment benefits hurts the unemployed and future generations who will have to pay for our largesse. Our debt is a much of a crisis as unemployment. In fact, the size of our debt is already slowing our economy and blocking the creation of one million jobs per year according to estimates from leading economists inside and outside the Obama administration. Paying for benefits is a win-win for the unemployed while not paying for them is a win-win for career politicians who don’t want to do the hard work of exposing and cutting their ludicrous priorities.

“The American people are tired of the phony and mindlessly partisan arguments about obstructing unemployment benefits. No one in public office likes to see the unemployed suffer and it is politics as usual to suggest otherwise. The debate is about whether to pay for these benefits or add to our debt. If Congress continues to ignore the reality that we are on an unsustainable course we will face an even greater crisis in the very near future. The time to make hard choices is now,” Dr. Coburn said.

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