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Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn's new book warns of nation's 'Debt Bomb'

In his new book, Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn blames career politicians in both parties for the nation's fiscal crisis and the failure to reach a comprehensive deal last year to reduce future deficits.
by Chris Casteel Published: April 18, 2012

In his new book about the nation's fiscal problems, U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn says he would rather work with Democrats in Congress than Chinese communists “who will one day force our hand” if government spending is not controlled.

The senator's book, “The Debt Bomb: A Bold Plan to Stop Washington from Bankrupting America,” was released Tuesday. It warns of an economic collapse due to the U.S. government's mounting debt and financial obligations and says members of both parties must compromise, particularly on entitlements like Medicare and Social Security, to avoid catastrophe.

Coburn, R-Muskogee, blames Democrats and Republicans for the current fiscal situation and for not reaching a comprehensive debt deal last year.

He says President Barack Obama's refusal last year to embrace the recommendations of his bipartisan debt commission — on which Coburn served — was “one of the greatest failures of presidential leadership in American history.” And he says the president “derailed” the work of a bipartisan group of six senators trying to resuscitate the commission's plan.

Coburn says Republicans “embarked on an orgy of pork-barrel spending and expanded the welfare state” when they controlled the U.S. House and former President George W. Bush was in office. Republican adherence to an outside group's no-tax pledge, Coburn says, is preventing serious talk of tax reform and deficit reduction.

“Those of us on the right have to realize the days of using tax purity pledges as a license to borrow and spend beyond our means are over,” Coburn says in the book.

Though many in and out of Washington have warned that international investors could lose faith in U.S. government treasuries if spending is not reined in, Coburn speaks in stark terms about the stakes, hypothesizing in the book about the power China, the largest outside holder of U.S. debt, would have over the country in the event of a financial crisis.

“In a very real sense, the threat from borrowing from countries like China is greater than the threat of war with China. … Sooner rather than later, a major fund or government will just decide one day that buying U.S. debt is a bad bet. And with one gust of wind, the house of cards will come crashing down,'' Coburn says.

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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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