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Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn invited to dinner with President Barack Obama

Sen. Tom Coburn, among a group of Republican senators invited to dine with the president at a Washington hotel, says Obama is reaching out to them because he “overplayed his hand” on the automatic spending cuts that went into effect last week.
by Chris Casteel Modified: March 6, 2013 at 9:26 pm •  Published: March 7, 2013

He sent a letter to the White House budget office on Wednesday saying that new federal job postings for such positions as “recreation specialists” and painters were made this week while agencies are warning of furloughs.

Coburn said Obama “wants to take attention away from the sequester because he totally overplayed his hand.”

He said the president could still make the cuts “hurt” if he wants to, but that Obama should “separate the politics from the policy.”

Coburn said he has spoken by phone with the president twice in the past week about a deficit-reduction package that includes tax reform and spending cuts.

Coburn said he would be agreeable to tax reform that included some additional revenue, but that the president wasn't yet pursuing real tax reform. Obama, he said, was mostly pushing for higher taxes on the wealthy.

Coburn rejected Obama's repeated assertions that the president has already agreed to about $2 trillion in spending cuts.

“That's a fabrication,” Coburn said, adding that more than half was just a reduction in the rate of spending growth. Only the across-the-board cuts, known as the sequester, which kicked in Friday, represent true cuts, he said.

The sequester cuts will total $1.2 trillion over 10 years.

“In 2014, the actual dollars in the Department of Defense will be more than it was this year,” Coburn said.

Coburn said the president will have to agree to numerous Medicare reforms to keep the program solvent, even at the risk of alienating congressional Democrats.

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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