by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Washington Examiner: Now that you’re out of Congress, what advice would you like to give your former colleagues?
Tom Coburn: My advice is come home. You’re more likely to fix the problems at home than you are there. Until the American people see transparently what’s going on, what we have is a charade going on in Washington.
Examiner: Do you see any current members of Congress continuing your watchdog role?
Coburn: I think Sens. Ben Sasse, Jeff Flake, several members of the House are working on it. I think they all ought to work on it, it’s the No. 1 problem in front of us. You can’t just hand those reins over, because it’s a combination of leadership and skill set. A member of Congress has to make that their priority, because you don’t get attaboys for it, for doing that kind of oversight work. But it’s important for the rest of the country to see it. …
… Examiner: What’s the best thing about leaving Congress?
Coburn: My time’s my own.
Examiner: The Affordable Care Act has been in effect for five years now. Do you think Republicans should stop talking about repealing it?
Coburn: The only way healthcare is going to get solved in our country is, let markets allocate the resources. The Affordable Care Act is anything but affordable to the country as a whole, unless [people] have a subsidy. Healthcare doesn’t have to be screwed up the way it is. Healthcare was doing really well until the government got involved.
I just spent six weeks practicing medicine, and it is the most screwed-up system in the world. It’s so much worse than it was when I went to the Senate, because so many of the dollars are consumed in non-healthcare acts. I had two nurses working for me, and 90 percent of their time was consumed with paperwork. We’re generating paper that nobody’s reading.
Examiner: In your opinion, why doesn’t Congress reform Medicare and enact other government reform measures?
Coburn: It’s totally tied to people who are in Congress for a career. If they truly were patriots, they would have fixed Medicare already. Common sense would say, if you’re up here and this is the biggest problem, why don’t you fix the biggest problem? They’re more interested in elections than they are in fixing the health of the country. That’s the disgusting part of Washington, that’s part of the reason I left.