Following my post on energy, Suzanne Curran has pointed me towards a speech that Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn, a Republican, gave on Saturday. In the speech, he slams his colleagues for inaction on this issue, accusing them of putting political positioning over making tough choices that will deeply affect the lives of the present and future generations of Americans. His two major issues are the mortgage bailout and energy, but the point remains. The full text is here, but here’s some key snippets:
So here we go, we are saying we are fixing the problem, but we are working on it only when it is in crisis. Then, when we have the political momentum to do what is right and fix the long term and the short term, what do we do? We run because we are more interested in our political futures, in our political careers than we are the opportunities and potential employment opportunities and lifestyles for our children and grandchildren.
Just as my colleagues have been talking about energy, the Senator from Tennessee very well knows that the time to address the problems we are talking about right now in terms of more production was 15 years ago. Now the Senate sits stuck because we are worried about the political fallout of perhaps having amendments to drill where the oil is and that might not fit one political party’s agenda.
But I will tell you what, it fits the American people’s agenda. So we have this debate and this division that is becoming partisan. It is all on the basis of how do we look good in November. I want to tell you, none of us look good to the American people, because we are not fixing the problems on a timely basis. We are not allowing the historical precedents of this body, which is debate and amendments, to mold and create legislation that adequately reflects the risks and problems that future generations are going to encounter.
This year, American taxpayers sent $700 billion of their money–a large portion of it–to countries that would like to see us done in. We are going to continue to do that until such time as we have a cogent energy policy, regardless of global warming or carbon problems. It is at least going to take 30 years. So we ought to take that out of the realm and say: How do we quit giving away our fortune, our future, and our assets to other people? Even if we all agreed on global warming, we can all agree it will take a long time to transition away from carbon-based fuels. Why would we not have a debate on every possible way in which we can find more American energy, American resources, American security, and use less foreign resources?
I noted on the floor on Monday that our national security is at extreme risk today. There is a historical precedent. When the Egyptians took over the Suez Canal, the British and French had a great amount of debt. We owned most of it. We were adamantly opposed to them attacking Egypt to bring back the Suez Canal under their control. We didn’t fire the first shot against the French and English. Do you know what we told them? We said: If you do this, we are going to put your debt onto the market. We will wreck your economy. We will create inflation and create a decreased standard of living. So you dare not do this. Do you know what. They knew it would happen and that we would do that. Consequently, a war was averted.
Think now, with China owning a trillion dollars of our debt, and another trillion dollars in the Middle East. What happens if they don’t like our foreign policy and they decide to dump our debt onto the market? How much national security do we have?
So the idea that we would not utilize every potential resource America has to solve this energy crisis, the fact we will not be allowed and are not allowed to have a true debate with true amendments that bring that forth to the American public, says we are highly dysfunctional, and that it is all about the next election, and it is never about the good and long-term interests of the country.
That has to stop in this body. It has to stop. It doesn’t matter if it is a Democrat or a Republican. It has to stop for future generations of this country. We need to quit worrying about whether we get reelected and start working on what is in the best long-term interests of this country.
So we are going to have $11 billion on the floor sometime next week, and we are going to talk about subhuman primate transfer and the War of 1812 Commission, but we are not going to work to solve the energy problems of the people in this country. We are going to talk about doing things the CDC and the NIH already have the power to do, but it doesn’t look good because we cannot have a press release or press conference and say we didn’t do something for a lobbyist’s special interest.
We are not going to create nuclear generation or go after the oil shale, and we are not going to go off the coast to find, in an environmentally friendly way, resources that will lessen that $700 billion of our Treasury we ship out of the country every year. Instead, we are going to do things that politically look good. If you oppose them, you might politically look bad. But we are not going to address the real issues in front of the country, as a whole. It is an amazement to me that when the figures were released, they reflected 9 percent of the people have confidence in the Senate. I wonder where those people are. If they are paying attention to this place, they could not have any confidence in it, because we are not addressing the real issues that are, in fact, impacting America today, American families today but, more importantly, national security today and tomorrow, and the wealth, health, and well-being of future generations.
Coburn is exactly the sort of conservative who will get this party moving again. Although he has suffered his share of controversy for his conservative social views in the past, he has moved beyond that and become a real leader on fiscal issues in the Senate. Coburn is also a man of integrity, being one of just a handful of Representatives who kept to their promise to keep their own term limits. Oklahoma rewarded him with a Senate seat; now, the conservative movement is beginning to notice him, and talk of veep or even Coburn ’12 or ’16 isn’t too far fetched…..
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