We all remember former First Lady Nancy Reagan’s anti-drug campaign, “Just Say No!” But it seems that message really stuck with U.S. Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma. According to the New York Times, he has “holds” on more than 80 bills, stonewalling any further progress on these issues without a full debate or discussion of the bill. Coburn’s tactics have come under fire by his colleagues, who say his shenanigans are unproductive and distract from real issues.

“But Mr. Coburn, as is his wont, begs to differ,” the article explained. “He said the Senate was shirking its duty by failing to give closer review to the hundreds of bills that slide through by unanimous consent. And he said Congress should not be clearing the way for billions of dollars in potential new spending – even on meritorious projects – without making reductions elsewhere. Fearful of the public debt piling up, he said he wanted the opportunity to at least propose those cuts.”

Good for him! Too many bills are passed with little regard for their impact on the budget and instead are approved simply because they seem like the right thing to do. Most often, these bills expand government programs and build on new bureaucracies that are already operating on an inflated budget or a deficit.

Senator Coburn wants to be sure the financial impacts of proposed legislation are given due diligence and are the most valuable use of taxpayers’ dollars. “We ought not be borrowing and expanding the federal government unless we get rid of stuff that is not working,” he said. That should hold true for state governments as well; let’s concentrate on fixing the problems we already have rather than create more of them.

– Kalese Hammonds