Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Sen. Tom Coburn (R. Ok) Illustrates Why Conservatives Are So Bad at Policy – They Don’t Know Basic Math

Since Their Policies Do Not Add Up, Why Would Anyone Expect Their Numbers To?

The very conservative Senator Tom Coburn has published a debt reduction package which absolutely no one, even his most ardent supporters have paid the least attention to.  Sen. Coburn would trim $9 Trillion from federal spending and he talked about it with Charlie Rose in Businessweek.  Here is one highlight.

Charlie Rose Talks to Senator Tom Coburn
Sen. Coburn  - Is Two Plus Two = Four?

I keep Forgetting
Discretionary spending’s too small. There isn’t that much to cut.
We have doubled the size of the federal government over the last 10 years in this country. And when people hear that, they can’t believe it. The biggest problems are entitlements. It’s $600 billion a year outside of the Pentagon. If you cut 20 percent, that’s $1.25 trillion.

And here is another highlight.

Clearly, one of the things we need to do right now is train workers.
We’re spending $19 billion a year now not doing that. Think about Medicare, one of our prime programs for our seniors. If you look at it in terms of improper payments and fraud, it’s $100 billion a year. So cut two-thirds of that and you saved a trillion dollars in Medicare before you even touch the program.

Anybody notice anything odd here?  Cutting two thirds of $100 billion of Medicare waste per year for ten yeas is $667 billion, not a trillion.  But Medicare waste is not just lying there with a tag on it, it has to be identified and rooted out, something that might cost, $ billions of dollars each year.  And Republicans of course are dead set against increasing federal spending, even if it is on waste reduction that might pay for itself and then some.  So when we all say Conservative numbers don't add up, well, that's because they don't.

Mr. Coburn concludes with this observation.

I’m not afraid to say, “We have to have a means test on Medicare.” The very wealthy are going to have to pay more of their share.

which might reduce the deficit from say $1.2 trillion to $1.95 trillion.  Nice going Senator.


  1. Is the last line a joke or typo? The idea is that means testing would have a negligible effect on the deficit, right?

  2. Also, did you catch Coburn's conclusion that Europe is in trouble because its "austerity program started too late"? And then he says he agrees with Krugman. The whole interview is a nonsensical mess.