Coburn not expecting to serve on deficit-cutting super committee

Republican leaders may not want Oklahoma senator advancing the idea of a balanced approach to reducing deficits
BY CHRIS CASTEEL ccasteel@opubco.com Published: August 7, 2011
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— Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Muskogee, doesn't expect to be picked for the so-called “super committee'' that will attempt to find consensus on $1.5 trillion in government savings over the next decade.

Coburn's views on deficit reduction are well known; he wants to slash spending and close tax loopholes to save at least $4 trillion — just as a start. Republican leaders in the Senate and House are expected to select lawmakers for the 12-member committee that are opposed to raising revenue.

As a member of the president's fiscal commission late last year, and as a participant in the Gang of Six deficit talks in the Senate, Coburn endorsed plans that would overhaul the tax code to eliminate some deductions and credits. Both groups called for using some of the additional revenue to lower corporate and individual rates and the rest to lower deficits.

Coburn also has released his own highly detailed menu of $9 trillion in spending cuts and tax increases that could be used by any committee looking for savings. So his input is already available. The question is whether Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., wants Coburn to represent the viewpoint advanced mainly by President Barack Obama and Democratic leaders that a “balanced approach” of revenue and spending cuts is necessary.

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Inhofe seeks PTSD hearing

Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Tulsa, a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, wants the panel to hold a hearing on post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injuries to U.S. service members. Inhofe, who has been trying to secure more funding for treatment of both, said last week that he was disappointed by a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association showing anti-psychotic drugs were ineffective in treating PTSD. “I have repeatedly asked the Department of Defense to consider alternative therapies and treatments, but our military doctors continue to rely on controversial and possibly harmful drug cocktails,'' Inhofe said. Recently, the Oklahoma congressional delegation sent a care package to the Oklahoma National Guard's 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team deployed in Afghanistan and Kuwait. Members of the 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team have served overseas since June and are expected to return to the United States early next year, Inhofe's office said. The package was coordinated by Jane Horton, a summer intern in Inhofe's office and the wife of Spc. Christopher Horton, a member of the combat team.

Studies and reports

• PRESCRIPTION DRUGS: More than 14,000 seniors in Oklahoma have saved an average of $392 on prescription drugs because of the health care bill passed last year, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. The savings came on brand-name drugs for seniors in the so-called “doughnut hole” of the Medicare prescription drug program.

• FARMERS MARKETS: The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported that Oklahoma now has 61 farmers markets, up 32 percent over last year. It was the sixth-highest growth rate in the nation of the markets, where farmers sell their produce directly to consumers.

Chris Casteel, Washington Bureau

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