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Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe looks for ways to blunt impact of spending cuts as deadline nears

Sen. Jim Inhofe sought support Wednesday for a bill to give flexibility in making cuts, while Sen. Tom Coburn says cuts could be made with “a drop of common sense” and some cooperation.
by Chris Casteel Modified: February 27, 2013 at 7:14 pm •  Published: February 28, 2013

But Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, of Kentucky, said his constituents don't want more tax increases.

“Look, we know that most Americans think Washington's spending problem should be addressed by cutting spending,” McConnell said.

It will be several weeks before some federal agencies can institute the furloughs they're planning, giving the president and Congress some breathing room before the most drastic effects.

Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Muskogee, gave a speech on the Senate floor Wednesday reviewing the numerous reports he has issued about waste in the federal government, including at the Defense Department.

“If we give the administration the flexibility, we could easily swallow $85 billion in reductions,” Coburn said.

Coburn said his reports — including one on federal tax and another on subsidies to people who make more than $1 million a year — have failed to gain traction, but they may now.

The senator said there was $70 billion in unspent money sitting in federal accounts “that we could pull back if we had effective management.”

The federal government has 47 separate job training programs, 253 Justice Department grant programs and 56 financial literacy programs, Coburn said, quoting from Government Accountability Office research on duplicative programs.

Coburn said the cuts taking effect this week will be painful, but they didn't have to be.

“All it takes is a small drop of common sense and Congress and the executive branch to work our way through these problems,” he said.

“We're going to cut this money one way or the other. … We're going to cut it because the math in our future is going to force us to cut it.”

by Chris Casteel
Washington Bureau
Chris Casteel began working for The Oklahoman's Norman bureau in 1982 while a student at the University of Oklahoma. After covering the police beat, federal courts and the state Legislature in Oklahoma City, he moved to Washington in 1990, where...
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