Senator Tom Coburn held a town hall meeting for Altus citizens on Tuesday, Aug. 5, in the Western Oklahoma State College Herschal H. Crow Fine Arts Auditorium, to field questions regarding activity in Washington, D.C., before his term ends on Jan. 3, 2015.
Following a brief introduction and welcoming to Senator Coburn, WOSC President Dr. Phil Birdine presented Coburn with a WOSC lapel pin, to commemorate his service and the early retirement from his term.
“We thank you and appreciate you for all the work you’ve done in Oklahoma,” Birdine said as he gave Coburn the WOSC pin.
“It is a tremendous privilege for me to be able to say in Washington, ‘I am from Oklahoma,” Coburn began. “It’s really different here than a lot of places in the country. I think sometimes Oklahomans don’t really appreciate how different we are, where in a combination of faith and hard work, we follow that faith in our daily lives and see the tremendous benefit that comes when were living together, working together, and trying to solve problems together. When I get to say I am from Oklahoma, I couldn’t be prouder. So thank you for that privilege.”
There were several audience members who presented Coburn with questions for discussion.
Dr. Joe Leverett, Chairman of the Altus Military Affairs Committee, asked Coburn if he felt that the US was safe now compared to when he first took office. Coburn said that from a world-wide perspective he feels the US is “somewhat less safe,” and in the future there will be another terrorist attack.
“Al Qaeda is not on the run, they are growing daily,” Coburn said. “And it’s a fanaticism that is disconnected from common sense that disregards life, and we’re basically their number one enemy.” Coburn explained that he hopes that the US is able to use force for good purposes rather than withdrawing troops. “When the world’s lone super power withdrawals, mischief begins, and we’re seeing it.”
Another audience member, the Altus Chamber of Commerce President Brian Bush, posed a question. “I hear over and over about some of the challenges facing our business owners, our banks… Are there people there [Washington] that can be worked with that can make changes that are positive for businesses here and places like Altus, or do you see that we’re going to need some change in personnel up there before we see that change?”
Coburn said that the US is experiencing a historic low for new business formation for two reasons. “One is, people don’t have confidence in the future, and number two, the cost of starting a new business now,” Coburn said. “And it’s very difficult with all the rules and regulations.” Coburn said that there is more ability to change things at the state level rather than the Federal level. “There are a lot of good people in Washington but most of them are conflicted. They want to do the right thing, but they also want to be reelected. And when those two meet, guess which one wins?”
Corburn also said that turnover in Congress is good for progress. “I think we ought to have a whole lot more of it, because fresh connection to individual states is positive for the country. Connection to Washington is negative for the country.”
Senator Coburn took several other questions ranging from term limits, a constitutional convention, the Environmental Protection Agency, water issues, abuse of the Executive branch, solutions for Federal funding of the “status quo”, unheard and unamended bills, drought legislation, and Veteran’s Affairs expenditures.
“The best thing to do for our Country right now is pray for it,” Coburn said in closing. “Pray for great leaders. Pray for courage. Pray for transparency. I try to read all sorts of news because I find the news on the left is biased, but I find the news on the right is biased. And I actually find the truth somewhere in between that. But I think the best thing we can do, you guys are representing that here in the middle of a busy work day when you should be somewhere else, is participating in this. I appreciate it. God bless you.”