Tom Coburn Objects to Bill to Provide Benefits to Homeless
In his zeal for deficit reduction, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) has objected to Sen. Patty Murray’s (D-Wash.) bill to provide benefits to homeless woman veterans and homeless veterans with children:
Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) asked for unanimous consent to approve a $3.4 billion bill to help homeless women veterans and homeless vets with kids. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell objected on behalf of Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), who is taking a stand against any measure that adds to the deficit.
“If we don’t start paying for new programs and continue on our path to bankruptcy we’ll have a homelessness problem beyond imagination,” Coburn spokesman John Hart told HuffPost. “The old Washington excuse that it’s too hard to cut spending is undermining our troops, our veterans and our future.”
It goes without saying that $3.4 billion represents a minute percentage of this year’s $1.4 trillion budget deficit. Of course, Coburn’s stance doesn’t represent some sort of hatred toward the homeless; it’s just that his party has long since committed to a strategy of unanimous opposition to Democratic initiatives, particularly if they cost any money. The goal is to deny Democrats any legislative victory that could aid them in the midterm elections, and a bill to provide benefits to homeless veterans falls squarely into that category.
Of course, that’s not to excuse Coburn’s opposition — tens of thousands of people will be further hurt by homelessness if this bill fails — but to note that you can explain a lot of behavior on the part of GOP senators if you understand the political incentives.