Former Congressman Tom Coburn has a new book out all about business as usual in our nation’s Congress. You can read excerpts from the memoir, called Breach of Trust , at the web site limitedgov.org.
In a land of career politicians, Dr. Coburn was a citizen legislator. He pledged to serve only three terms in the Congress; and he never wavered from that commitment, stepping down in 2000 just as promised. The memoir is fascinating. One episode that leaps from the page relates his attempt to get his fellow congressmen to abide by spending caps passed as part of the 1997 Balanced Budget Agreement.
In 1999 Coburn met with House Speaker Dennis Hastert and Majority Leader Senator Trent Lott, urging them to step up to the plate and lead. Coburn recalls that while Dennis Hastert at least listened to him on the issue more than he had come to expect from recently-ousted Speaker Newt Gingrich.
Lott was a lot less interested. “Lott looked at me, rested his chin on his hand, and said in his Mississippi baritone drawl, ‘Well, I’ve got an election coming up in 2000. After that we can have good government.’ “It made me sick,” says Coburn. “Here was one of the most powerful men in the country brazenly admitting, in effect, ‘Yes, the government we have now is not good, but I don’t really care as long as I keep getting elected.'” Coburn’s story tells us a lot, if we’re willing to listen. Sadly, though, nothing we didn’t already know.
This is Common Sense.Â I’m Paul Jacob.