DNC Blasts Coburn

Image of Tom Coburn

Just as Congress begins to close a deal on health care reform, Democratic National Committee spokesperson Derrick Plummer points out the obstructionism and “false claims” of U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn over the issue.

According to the DNC, Coburn, a Republican from Muskogee, remains part of a GOP movement that will try to repeal health care reform legislation if it passes. This is what Plummer had to say about the senator in a media release issued on Thursday:

After months of spreading false claims and employing scare-tactics with the goal of dissuading the American people from supporting health insurance reform, Sen. Coburn is now finally admitting that his primary interest is defending insurance companies’ massive profits and freedom to abuse consumers rather than standing up for the people of Oklahoma.

The American people should make no mistake. Coburn’s calls for repeal of health insurance reform would mean a return to the same discriminatory health insurance company practices that are breaking American families’ savings accounts, forcing small businesses into bankruptcy and endangering the long-term health and stability of our economy.

The provisions in this health insurance reform legislation that Coburn proposes to repeal include expanding health insurance coverage to 30 million Americans, providing insurance security for Americans who lose their jobs, ending lifetime limits on insurance coverage, extending the period of time that young adults can reside on their parents’ coverage and providing relief for small businesses and employers who share the burden of sky-rocketing insurance costs with their employees. Halting progress on this historic legislation would deny every American – young or old, wealthy or poor, those with coverage or without – access to critical benefits that would improve their quality and access to health care.

Certainly, this is a political statement, and the pending health care legislation is far from perfect. Even some progressives oppose it because it doesn’t do enough to make health care more affordable, and it gives too much to the insurance industry. But it’s clear Coburn, who is physician, has done nothing seriously to try to change the broken health care system. Why? Oklahoma has some of the worst medical outcomes in the nation as documented by report after report. According to one government report, health insurance premiums have risen by 77 percent here since 2000. The same report argues that health care reform would allow 639,000 uninsured Oklahomans to get insurance.

Again, you might think Coburn, as a physician, would be concerned about poor medical outcomes and access, but he’s turned his back on Oklahoma families once again.

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Newspaper Urges Celebration For Millionaires, Billionaires

Image of Picasso painting

Some folks are born silver spoon in hand,
Lord, don't they help themselves, oh.
But when the taxman comes to the door,
Lord, the house looks like a rummage sale, yes,

It ain't me, it ain't me, I ain't no millionaire's son, no.
It ain't me, it ain't me; I ain't no fortunate one, no.--from the Creedence Clearwater Revival song “Fortunate Son”

In a time of massive taxpayer bailouts of the banking and automobile industries, high unemployment and a staggering state budget crisis, The Oklahoman editorial page want us to take some time to “celebrate” millionaires and billionaires.

That’s right. You may be laid off and broke while the same Wall Street scammers—millionaires themselves--who gave us the national recession are getting bonuses, but, hey, put aside that job search for a moment and give credit to the local rich people. If you don’t, well, then you must have that awful class envy.

A recent editorial, titled “Fortunate Sons: State policy should encourage success” (January 12, 2010) laments the fact that Oklahoma is “under-represented” on the Forbes magazine list of wealthiest America and points out the philanthropic work of state billionaire George Kaiser. Then comes this gem:

Kaiser’s political leanings perhaps make his success more acceptable to the class-envy crowd, which should be celebrating the success of all Oklahoma millionaires and billionaires, even those who are conservative Republicans.

What an inane argument. Certainly, people can and do admire particular financial successes, but to urge a sweeping, general celebration of the “success” of rich people is simply ridiculous. What about people who earned their money by gouging people through business monopolies? What about people who inherited their money? What about people who use their money to promote hatred and discrimination against certain groups of people? What about bankers and mortgage brokers who made millions off the recent housing bubble? What about people who make their money illegally?

Yes, state policy should encourage people to locate and start businesses here, but misguided worship of money without critical inquiry is not in the best interests of anyone, except those who have it.

The Oklahoman editorial page continues to show its disdain, maybe even a growing distaste, for middle-class people, who have to be the newspaper’s primary readers. Its opinions mainly reflect the vested interests of the state’s corporate power structure and its wealthiest residents.

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Who Will Oppose Coburn?

Image of U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn

Will a major candidate step up on the Democratic side to oppose U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn in the 2010 election? The question is an important one now that we’re only about 10 months away from the general election and even less from the primary.

Yes, Coburn, a Republican from Muskogee, will be a formidable opponent. He’s tapped into the anti-Obama, teabagger sentiment in the state, and, as an incumbent, he will probably raise more money than any of his opponents. His political stunts have given him massive name recognition here and elsewhere.

But that doesn’t mean Democrats should just concede the seat. There are two approaches here. Democrats could run a well-known candidate and try to out raise Coburn in campaign money or run a lesser-known candidate, who can try to chip away at Coburn’s dismal record when it comes to supporting Oklahoma families and children. Even if the candidate loses, more Oklahomans might see through Coburn’s antics.

What will the economy be like in November 2010? Will there still be high unemployment here because of the terrible recession President Barack Obama inherited from the Bush administration? Will anything “stick” to Coburn if a candidate tried to educate Oklahomans about his record and, say, the Ensign spectacle? Will an independent run for the position and perhaps draw votes away from Coburn? The answers to these questions could determine the election’s outcome.

Let’s speculate. Here are five well-known Democratic Oklahomans, who might or might not consider the race: (1) Gov. Brad Henry, who has said he’s not interested in running, (2) Former Gov. David Walters, (3) Vince Orza, a former gubernatorial candidate and current dean of the Meinders School of Business at Oklahoma City University, (4) State School Superintendent Sandy Garrett, and (5) State Treasurer Scott Meacham.

Could any of these potential candidates beat Coburn with a specific campaign and decent funding?

Is there a state Democratic Senator not up for re-election this year who could run while not jeopardizing their current position? Are there any term-limited Democrats in the House? What about a former legislator or someone outside of politics altogether?

Obviously, it takes a lot of energy, people and time to get a major campaign up and going. Someone needs to step up quickly.

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