Monday, February 5, 2007

C-SPAN Q&A: Senator Tom Coburn

Senator Tom CoburnBRIAN LAMB, HOST: Senator Tom Coburn, are you glad you came to the Senate?

U.S. SEN. TOM COBURN, (R-OK): Sometimes.

Update: Highlights

"The answer to the ethical problems in the United States Congress, is full disclosure; timely and full disclosure.

"If you can say that a lobbyist can’t buy me a meal to discuss an issue that is a legitimate issue, out in the open and me put on a Web site that I had a dinner with ABC lobbying interest group on this subject ... but they can turn around and give $2,000 to my campaign or $5,000 for a PAC to my campaign and I could have the meal with them any time I want, as long as, I’m doing it in campaign mode, you haven’t done anything.

"You’ve washed the outside of the cup but the inside of the cup is still dirty.

"When I can earmark, even though it’s out in the open but I might identify it a little different, a $100 million project for a $2,000 campaign contribution but I can’t have a meal with the same individual, something’s very wrong."

On S. 1: "I was one of two people who voted against that ethics bill because it’s going to tear up the Senate. It’s going to tear up the ability for the American people to have great people come and represent them."

"Because you will be at such risk to have made an innocent mistake that you will spend $300,000 to $500,000 defending yourself, in terms of an allegation against you, in a court of law.

"Not as a rule, this is a statute that we passed. This is federal law. This isn’t a senate rule. This is federal law.

"If this becomes law, I will guarantee you I won’t run again. I’m not about to put what I’ve worked for, for 35 years as a physician and a businessman, at risk, so I can represent the people. I will say I’m cashing it in. We’ve just imploded ourselves."

"I’ll guarantee you citizen legislators are much more likely to solve that problem than career politicians and people who have never been in the public eye and people say, well they’re not qualified. They’re more qualified because they have a perspective outside of Washington and outside of a re-election cycle."

"This isn’t a fun job. I mean I don’t know anybody who really thinks this is that great of a job. It’s not a fun job. It is a tremendously burdensome job, knowing that you can’t change things to fix the future and you have to work every day to try to do that."

"People have stomach acid over me. I don’t deny that. I’m probably really good for the drug companies in terms of senators."

"There’s no reason for everybody else to get mad at the people that are helping me, when they can be mad at me and so, I don’t mind taking that heat. The fact is, is the American public agrees that we shouldn’t be spending money we don’t have."

"We’ve made a great deal of change. I mean this transparency and accountability act is a big deal."

"I think things have shifted since the early 60’s, in our government, when John Kennedy was President. I think it used to be that the thought of the federal government was, is we’re going to assume people are going to do things right and we’re going to catch them if they’re doing them wrong. The assumption is now, as you interact with the federal government, you have to prove you’re not a crook. You have to prove you’re not doing things wrong."

"He taught me the work ethic that I have, which is horrendous, in terms of work ethic but he was still somewhat balanced in how--what was he working to achieve. He was working to achieve something for other people."

f I’m on the floor and I lose a debate with a vote, I have advanced my position to, at least, people get to see what that position is."

e have not seen the strength, at the administrative level, on trade issues where we are unfairly treated, like the pharmaceutical industry is; it is tremendously and so we have, as a consequence, Americans are paying much more for their drugs than what they should."

I’m getting ready to introduce a global healthcare bill."

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