Tom Coburn’s good, but late, question: ‘Where is the Senate?’


In an op-ed today in The Post about the problems negotiating a long-term deficit reduction plan, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) asks, “Where is the Senate?” Yeah, good question. I just wish he’d asked it months ago.

I can’t quibble with any of his criticisms of the Senate. “[T]he least deliberative ‘greatest deliberative body’ in the world”? Yep. “The lack of leadership and initiative in the Senate is appalling”? Sure is. “It is not realistic to expect six members to pull the Senate out of its dysfunction and lethargy.” True. So, then, why did Coburn spend so much time, effort and conservative capital trying working with five others to try to cobble together a plan to avert “the most predictable economic crisis in history”?

To his credit, Coburn isn’t walking away from the cause of putting the federal fiscal house in order. He promises to put forth his own plan that puts everything on the table and slashes $9 trillion in spending over the next decade. And he hopes his colleagues will step forward with their own plans so that the ensuing free and open debate will produce “the best solutions for America.”  With 68 days until the United States defaults on its obligations for the first time in its history, this free and open debate will be limited. How this enhances the Senate’s image and reputation escapes me.

Jonathan Capehart is a member of the Post editorial board and writes about politics and social issues for the PostPartisan blog.

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