Calling it “a new day of politics in our country,” Coburn expresses optimism that Americans are ready to “cheat history” and meet fiscal challenges facing U.S.

But cautions that cuts will be painful and require something that has been lacking – Presidential leadership

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Calling it “a new day of politics in our country,” U.S. Senator Tom Coburn (OK) delivered a speech to The Ripon Society this morning in which he expressed optimism that the American people are ready to “cheat history” and meet the fiscal challenges facing our country. At the same time, he also cautioned that the spending cuts that will be needed to meet these challenges will not only be painful, but will require something that, he says, has thus far been lacking – leadership by the President of the United States.

“The problems in front of our country are tremendously big,” Coburn stated. “It gets depressing when people talk about the real facts. We all know that we have lived beyond our means for a long period of time. People ask me what the problem is. The problem is for the last 30 years we lived off the next 30 years. And that’s exactly where we find ourselves today. The best news I have is that the ship has been turned around through the last election. We are no longer talking about how much we are going to increase spending. We are talking about how much we are going to cut spending. That is a significant change.

“The last time we had any significant cut in spending was in 1995. So the fact that the subject matter has changed and we have everybody talking about a different hypothesis – that is, rather than growing government, we’re talking about shrinking government — you can’t overstate the importance of that. I really think we are in a new day of politics in our country. The reason is that American families are living within their means, and that’s what they desire for us to do. You have seen this big Tea Party movement. But you have also seen the polling in the Democratic Party that 74 percent of registered Democrats want government spending cut. Now think about that — that is a tidal wave shift in their base. We need to remember, no matter what we’re doing, that their supporters also want us to live within their means.

“And so the question comes: ‘How do we sort out the conflicts of living within our means and still protecting those who need our help?’ History has not been kind to nations like ours. The average age of the world’s republics is about 212 years. We’re past that. And almost every republic has fallen for exactly the same reasons — they have fallen because they have lost control of their fiscal matters. They weren’t defeated first and then lost. They lost control of their fiscal matters. Will Durant said, ‘a great nation is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself from within.’ And if you really think about where we are in terms of our potential, if we continue down the path and don’t right the ship in a way, we have a limited history. And what I think we need to do — and I know what the American people, no matter what their political persuasion, want us to do — is cheat history. We can cheat history. What has happened to other republics doesn’t have to happen to us.”

Coburn pointed to the costly and redundant programs that currently exist within the federal bureaucracy as one area that needs immediate attention. “We can cut a trillion dollars tomorrow out of the federal government and nobody will know the difference except for the people that lose their jobs working for the federal government. That’s how much waste there is. If you look at what the GAO put out after looking at the first third of the federal government and the waste and duplication that they found, there is $600 billion a year that we can save just through duplication. We are putting out a report on the National Science Foundation this week, and there is $2 to $3 billion a year in waste and duplication just within the NSF. And that’s a small little agency. The way you get rid of the $1.5 trillion deficit is $2 or $3 billion at a time.”

That said, the Oklahoma Senator added that: “You cannot fix the problems in front of us without addressing Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. It is absolutely impossible. And so the choice for us and the country is to recognize that we are either going to fix these things now, or not fix them and be forced to fix them later, not through our own choice but through the international financial community.”

“We have to downsize not just the government, but our hopes and aspirations of what the government can do. Because we have assumed it can do a lot of things that it’s not capable of doing either efficiently or effectively. What we can do efficiently or effectively at the federal government level is waste money — and we do a wonderful job of that. The military is highly effective, yet highly inefficient. We have $50 billion at least of waste at the Pentagon that Secretary Gates hasn’t even accounted for or identified yet.”

Coburn concluded his remarks by making reference to a speech last night by Speaker of the House John Boehner about the need to cut spending, and to the lack of leadership coming from the White House as Republicans and Democrats in Congress try to achieve this goal.

“The only thing that I would disagree with what the Speaker said last night is that there is going to be pain,” he observed. “We cannot do this without pain. But that pain ought to be shared equally across America at every level, by everyone. What that will do is pull us together. When America gets focused on a problem together, we can accomplish whatever we want to accomplish. The disappointing thing about our President is that he failed to lead to bring us together. What he has done is divide us through his most recent speeches, and hurt the effort to solve the very problems that are in front of us.

The Ripon Society is a public policy organization that was founded in 1962 and takes its name from the town where the Republican Party was born in 1854 – Ripon, Wisconsin. One of the main goals of The Ripon Society is to promote the ideas and principles that have made America great and contributed to the GOP’s success. These ideas include keeping our nation secure, keeping taxes low and having a federal government that is smaller, smarter and more accountable to the people.