Coburn willing to block debt limit increase to force spending cuts

Jon Ward Contributor
Font Size:

Sen. Tom Coburn said Wednesday that if President Obama fails to cut spending by hundreds of billions of dollars, he may block an increase in the debt limit and risk federal insolvency.

“I can give you a list of $350 billion that needs to be conceded and programs that need to be eliminated,” Coburn, an Oklahoma Republican, said in an interview. “I think you’re going to see all sorts of amendments attached to that debt limit increase.”

Coburn said that if Obama opposed spending cuts attached to such a bill “we may not have a debt limit increase.”

Asked whether that would bring the federal government to the brink of default, Coburn answered in the affirmative.

“Sure, and that’s the whole point. That’s why the leverage is there to actually make the changes that need to be made for the country,” Coburn said.

The federal debt is currently at $13.7 trillion, and the debt limit is $14.2 trillion. Congress raised the limit to the current level from $12.4 trillion in February.

“We’re in deep trouble, and you don’t get out of that with timid solutions … We can’t do everything everyone wants us to do,” Coburn said. “At a minimum, $350 billion is a great starting point and it ought to go higher.”

Coburn also said he thinks the Congress can cut enough spending to alleviate the need to raise the debt limit.

“The American people think the budget ought to be balanced, even taking hard choices, even with some personal sacrifice on their part,” Coburn said. “So I don’t think it’s impossible for us to cut enough government spending with which we don’t have to raise the debt limit. I think we can do that.”

E-mail Jon Ward and follow him on Twitter