published Wednesday, July 20th, 2011

Sen. Coburn offers serious cuts

As the battle rages in Washington on how or whether to raise the debt limit before the United States faces a partial default Aug. 2, Sen. Tom Coburn, a conservative Republican from Oklahoma, has shown the courage to propose major spending cuts to reduce U.S. deficits over the next decade. But his efforts will not likely be welcomed by many in Congress.

Some of the things he suggests are politically "untouchable," and so some of his fellow senators would find it easier to stay our unsustainable current course than to embrace his solutions.

What does Coburn suggest? Here are some of his explosive ideas:

He would gradually raise the age at which one can get full Social Security benefits to 70. He would cut farm subsidies. Medicare spending would be reduced. Sacred-cow spending for housing for the poor, student aid and community development grants would drop. Even some medical and prescription benefits for veterans would have to yield to reductions, and Coburn would curb some tax breaks.

He likely will find more ardent opponents than enthusiastic supporters for his proposal. But reducing federal deficits by $9 trillion, as he wants to do, won't be possible without an honest assessment of the spending that got our nation deep in debt.

It's popular to offer a wide variety of programs to pay something to some people -- even if the money has to be borrowed. It's hard to cut red ink. And Coburn's $9 trillion reduction plan doesn't enjoy the support of even all the low-tax advocates in Washington, much less of liberals who want to tax, borrow and spend more.

We don't agree with every facet of his plan, but it is encouraging that someone is at least talking about serious spending reductions.

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