- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 30, 2008

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Taxpayers owe a debt of thanks to Sen. Tom Coburn, Oklahoma Republican, for his tireless efforts to introduce a measure of spending discipline and accountability into the congressional debate. With the Senate scheduled to leave town on Friday, Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, has two major priorities: 1) deflect attention from the Democrats’ efforts to block new oil exploration, and 2) find ways to embarrass the Republicans by portraying them as enemies of the poor and the sick. Thus far, Mr. Reid has only succeeded in uniting the embattled Senate Republican minority against pork-barrel spending and reminding the American people of who is attempting to hamstring energy production.

Mr. Coburn has placed “holds” on about 35 bills that included provisions to fight Lou Gehrig’s disease, homelessness and child pornography, effectively blocking them from receiving an individual vote. Many of the individual projects were backed by Republicans. Mr. Coburn said that he might vote for many of those items, amounting to about $10 billion in spending, if they were brought up individually. But Mr. Coburn objected to Mr. Reid’s bundling them together without giving senators a chance to vote on corresponding spending reductions. Mr. Reid would have none of it, so on Monday, he attempted unsuccessfully to force the Senate to take up the bill. Clearly angry with Mr. Coburn, the majority leader hinted that Democrats would portray Republicans as callous and cruel. “Next time you see someone in a wheelchair at home, explain to them how you voted against moving forward on something that may get them out of that wheelchair,” Mr. Reid declared.

One reason why virtually all Senate Republicans voted against the spending bill was Mr. Reid’s refusal to permit the Senate to vote on GOP proposals to permit domestic oil drilling. In response, Mr. Reid may try to redouble his efforts to sabotage energy production. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Democratic Party curry favor with the environmental lobby.

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