WASHINGTON — 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.
Coburn voted against the debt deal that created the super committee, saying the savings weren't sufficient.
The deal did protect from cuts a couple of Coburn's biggest priorities: investigating health care fraud and conducting reviews of people collecting Social Security Disability Insurance. Annual payments in the disability program have skyrocketed in the past 10 years, from about $55 billion in 2000 to $124 billion last year.
The payments are supposed to phase out or end when a beneficiary can go back to work. Coburn complains that some judges in the system award benefits to undeserving people and that the Social Security Administration has not been conducting enough continuing disability reviews.
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