Yesterday I spoke with the terribly smart, tough, fiscal conservative Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) about why he walked out of the "Gang of Six" bipartisan budget talks.
In short, what he told me was that the "Gang of Six" budget-cutting package was simply too small. It was not up to the needs of a brewing financial crisis.
He highlighted Medicare, but he also called for a pro-growth tax reform package, plus a regulatory rollback to promote economic growth.
KUDLOW: All right, so let me ask you the obvious question. Why specifically did you walk out of the Gang of Six bipartisan budget talks in the Senate?
Sen. COBURN: Well, specifically, I didn't think we were making the progress in the areas that we needed to make the progress, and I had a frank conversation with Dick Durbin, and he thought we were at impasse, I agreed that we were in impasse, and his words to me is, `We've been at impasse for a couple of weeks.' And so what I've done is take a sabbatical, and I'm going to produce a document that's going to show you how we can get out of the trouble, and then we'll let everything else be compared to that. My staff and I have the capability of doing that. And we'll just see. And I'm not abandoning it completely, but whatever we come up with has to solve the very real problems. And it can't be light, it's got to recognize that entitlements are a significant portion of our problem, and if you don't really address those, you haven't fixed the problem.
KUDLOW: So let me ask you, you're using the word sabbatical. What would it take to get you back in? Is it an issue of Medicare? Are there other entitlements? Are there tax issues? What would get you to go back into the talks? Because, potentially, that was a very powerful group.