Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Rick Perry, Meet Tom Coburn

Two Southwestern stars of the GOP, the Governor of Texas and the Senator from Oklahoma, are riding off in opposite ideological directions.

Rick Perry, who keeps falling off his horse in the Republican debates, has now mounted a bucking bull by proposing a radical and, in some respects, clearly unconstitutional tearing down of the federal government, which includes making Congress work part-time with half pay and ending lifetime tenure of federal judges. (Lots of luck with those!)

The Perry plan would give him less to remember in answering questions publicly but is not likely to pull him out of the pits of the nomination polls, where he now resides. It could, however, provide a good stepping-off point for someone like John Huntsman Jr., if he decides to distance himself from Tea Party nuttiness.

At the same time, Oklahoma’s Tom Coburn affirms his maverick conservatism by issuing a report titled “Subsidies of the Rich and Famous” to illustrate how, “under the current tax code, the federal government is giving billions of dollars to individuals with an Annual Gross Income (AGI) of at least $1 million, subsidizing their lavish lifestyles with the taxes of the less fortunate.”

Dr. Coburn’s indictment even outdoes what his sometime friend Barack Obama has been saying for months:

“All Americans are facing tough times, with many working two jobs just to make ends meet and more families turning to the government for financial assistance. From tax write-offs for gambling losses, vacation homes, and luxury yachts to subsidies for their ranches and estates, the government is subsidizing the lifestyles of the rich and famous. Multi-millionaires are even receiving government checks for not working.

“This welfare for the well-off--costing billions of dollars a year--is being paid for with the taxes of the less fortunate, many who are working two jobs just to make ends meet, and IOUs to be paid off by future generations. We should never demonize those who are successful. Nor should we pamper them with unnecessary welfare to create an appearance everyone is benefiting from federal programs.”

Perry will disappear from the national scene, but Coburn’s conversion to at least one tenet of tax sanity augurs well for the deficit reduction impasse. How do you say “strange bedfellows” in Spanish?

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