| January 15, 2013

Coburn's courageous conservatism

During Blake Griffin’s sophomore (and final) season at Oklahoma, I made an effort to take my sons to Norman as often as possible to watch him play. As I told them at the time: What we’re seeing here doesn’t come along every day. We need to appreciate it while we can.

In like manner, I hope Oklahomans realize what they’ve got in Sen. Tom Coburn. Encouragingly, I think they do. Prophets have been known to be stoned or sawn in two, yet our own Jeremiah-with-an-accounting-degree somehow manages to be the most popular statesman in Oklahoma. Principled and practical, Dr. Coburn endeavors to vote his conscience (even if it’s not always popular), and he manages to be cordial to even his most liberal political opponents.

In typical fashion, Dr. Coburn gave a superb speech after the November election entitled “A Valley Forge Moment for Conservatives.” The speech is so important we decided to publish it in this month’s issue of Perspective. I encourage you to read the whole thing here. Here’s an excerpt:

Perhaps the greatest problem I’ve seen in the Republican Party since being elected in the Class of 1994 is the gap between our words and actions. We have two forms of conservatism in Washington. One is cheap or complacent conservatism; the other is costly or courageous conservatism. One is common, the other is rare.

Cheap or complacent conservatism is the conservatism of rhetoric, pledges and pandering. Costly and courageous conservatism is a conservatism of action, solutions and sacrifice.

Cheap conservatism looks for scapegoats to compensate for its failure to communicate and implement a limited government agenda. Costly conservatism is brimming with optimism and compelling solutions.

Cheap conservatism treats particular areas of the budget as sacred based on political expediency. Costly conservatism treats every tax dollar as sacred based on the principles of liberty and self-government.

In short, the problem is “the career politicians who say they are for limited government and lower taxes but make decisions that give us bigger government and higher taxes,” Dr. Coburn said. And as I’ve pointed out, it’s a problem not only in Washington but also in Oklahoma City.

Dr. Coburn, pictured above introducing Paul Ryan at an OCPA dinner in 2010, served on OCPA’s board of trustees prior to being elected to the U.S. Senate. “Over the years, I have relied often on OCPA’s excellent research to help me stay informed and serve my constituents,” he says. During last year’s state legislative session, Dr. Coburn said he was “following very closely the efforts by my friends at OCPA to eliminate Oklahoma’s state income tax and cut wasteful state spending.

“I strongly support this effort,” Dr. Coburn said. “I know that eliminating our state’s income tax will be a great economic boon. It will allow Oklahomans to keep more of their hard-earned money, allow the private sector to develop the economy, and it will help us compete with other states (that) don’t have state income taxes, like Texas, Tennessee and Florida (Kansas is considering eliminating its state income tax as well).”

With the new year now upon us, OCPA will again endeavor to exemplify the same courageous conservatism in Oklahoma that Dr. Coburn exemplifies in Washington. We already have excellent research products lined up in the areas of pension reform, Medicaid, education, taxes, government spending and more. Rest assured, we will continue to promote “limited government and lower taxes” in Oklahoma as Dr. Coburn does the same in Washington.

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