STILLWATER, Okla. — Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., had few nice things to say about Washington politics at Oklahoma State University’s Wes Watkins Center Monday afternoon.
“There isn’t a thimble of sense in Washington right now,” he told the crowd of approximately 50 people.
As people asked about how to deal with immigration, the deficit, college tuition and health care, Coburn came back to one theme: Government is spending too much and doing too little to find real solutions to real problems.
“All of our problems are fixable,” he said, adding that one of the problems is a lack of bold, decisive leadership in Washington.
“Nobody wants to talk about the real problems,” the senator said. “Politicians are playing games to advance politics and not the country.”
People voiced their concerns about the Ryan budget possibly destroying Social Security and Medicare. Coburn said he does not know what presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin will do in regard to the budget.
“Let’s let it play out,” he said, adding that if Ryan is allowed to speak about the budget, it will be vastly different than what Democrats are saying.
Coburn consistently came back to spending. He said the country has lived the last 30 years on the next 30, taking away from future generations.
One woman said she depends on Social Security and Medicare to live and wanted to know the senator’s thoughts on the programs.
“We can fix them,” he said. Coburn added that the programs need to be made more efficient as trillions are being taken by those who give little in and this shackles the next generation.
“We’re going to have to make sacrifices — all of us,” Coburn said. “We’re not far from being Greece.”
When a young woman asked a question about pushing child sex laws, Coburn said laws are in place but are thwarted by cowards like those at Penn State.
Coburn said the woman should be upset about her generation having to bear this generation’s debt.
“It’s generational theft,” Coburn said. He said part of the problem is that the government has undermined self-reliance.
Coburn also sounded off on healthcare, saying it costs too much and the Affordable Healthcare Act did not solve the problem but made it worse. He said more important than repealing President Obama’s healthcare plan is solving the problem of healthcare.
A student asked about rising tuition costs. Coburn said this illustrates one of the main problems in America — the government has grown to big and is involved in too much.
“(Tuition) is going up because the federal government has gotten involved in it,” said Coburn, referring to student loans and pell grants.
Coburn urged the crowd, especially young students, to let Washington know what issues they care about and what they demand to be dealt with.
When asked about illegal immigration, Coburn said nothing can be done until the border is secure. He said there is no “grown up” managing the situation. The senator said he has met with border patrol who say the problem could be solved if they were allowed to do their jobs.
“A country that can’t protect its border won’t survive,” he said.
Coburn said he wishes other politicians could taste the freedom he has from his self-imposed term limits. Coburn has pledged not to seek a third term in 2016 as he is a supporter of term limits.
Hixson is a writer for Stillwater NewsPress.