Earmarks were supposed to be a thing of the past, but a tone deaf GOP decided to vote today on bringing them back --- that is until the American people got wind of it.
"They were supposed to vote on bringing earmarks back today, but then you heard about it, and Paul Ryan said, Oh, well, we're not going to vote on that right now. Oh, that's good," Glenn said Thursday on his radio program.
Even after the unprecedented election of Donald Trump, establishment politicians failed to receive the message: The American people are fed up with big government and deal-making politicians. If they don't get the message, the only recourse left to the people is a Convention of States, brilliantly added as Article V in the U.S. Constitution.
Former Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn, who spearheaded the effort to stop earmarks and currently serves as a senior advisor to the Convention of States, talked with Glenn about tone deaf career politicians, completely out of step with the American people.
"It's laziness. It's careerism. It's elitism. And it's contemptuous. ...Even having a vote on it tells you that they're totally not connected with the American people and that they're connected with the next election," Sen. Coburn said.
Read below or watch the clip for answers to these questions:
• What step would actually make Congress start doing its job?
• Did November 8th give spinal transplants to career politicians in Washington?
• How many more states must come on board before Convention can take place?
• How many billions of dollars does Washington waste annually in duplication and fraud?
• What three areas only are addressed in a Convention of States?
Below is a rush transcript of this segment, it might contain errors:
GLENN: Welcome. Former Oklahoma senator Tom Coburn to the Glenn Beck Program. How are you, sir?
TOM: Oh, I'm fine, Glenn.
GLENN: When you saw the G.O.P. yesterday starting to go and put earmarks back in as a way to direct pork barrel spending back into their districts, what went through your mind?
TOM: Oh, careerism. Career politicians. You know, it's important people understand how earmarks work: Earmarks work because the city wants something, which is really not in the enumerated powers of the federal government to do in the first place.
They hire a lobbyist, or somebody hires a lobbyist. They give to your campaign. And then they ask -- the city needs this. You'll look good at home. This has got to be a priority for you because you represent these people.
So it's -- it's the old idea that people are -- you know, as soon as you know you can buy -- you can get anything you want from the federal government, you lose your freedom. And so this arrogance of power that says I will supply what my district needs, rather than what's in the best interest of the country -- which is their oath -- has nothing to do with their local district, which is their oath, is the thing that will spell disaster for a country. And it has already.
You know, they -- the career politicians will tell you, we need this to get things through Congress. It greases the skids. You know, so you have to buy somebody's vote by giving them money to spend at home?
Number two is, if we eliminated all earmarks -- which we still haven't, even though they say they have -- if you eliminated all earmarks, actually Congress could start doing their job.
The other thing you hear from members of Congress is, "Well, the administration has the power to do this." No. All you have to do is put in your appropriation bills that they won't do any of this stuff without getting approval from Congress. But they won't do that.
So, you know, it's laziness. It's careerism. It's elitism. And it's contemptuous, in terms of what -- even having a vote on it tells you that they're totally not connected with the American people and that they're connected with the next election.
GLENN: Former US senator Dr. Tom Coburn.
Tom, when you're looking at what's happening now -- I heard Paul Ryan who was not for Donald Trump, now ecstatic -- he said yesterday that this is a new dawn in America. And the Republicans are -- are -- it's a new day for even the Republican Party.
And it sounded pretty excited. A lot of people are really excited. Is this something you would look on and say, "Man, it would be great to be in the Senate right now," or are you expecting more of the same? What do we expect -- what do you think is happening with the Republican Party?
TOM: Oh, I don't think much. I'm hopeful that the president-elect can give the leadership that causes people to make hard decisions, instead of easy ones for their reelection.
But I don't know that anything happened on the 8th of November to do spinal transplants in most of the career politicians in Washington.
You know, what -- what the earmarks vote is, is cowardice. It's about me. And not about our country. That's -- you know, and to me, it is so disappointing -- and, first of all, are they tone-deaf? Did they not hear what this election is all about? Draining the swamp?
GLENN: I don't think anybody did. I really don't. I don't think the media --
TOM: Well, that just tells you why we have to have a Convention of States to offer amendments to limit the scope, the power, and jurisdiction of the federal government.
You know, here you have the party that is in control, wanting to vote to restore one of the corrupt systems there ever was, that only really benefits the politician. Because for any earmark I might have gotten -- I had to give an earmark to 99 other senators, and I had to look the other way to be able to do that. And I never got an earmark once for Oklahoma or my district. I refused to do that. I refused to fall into that. So, you know, to me, it's the corruption of careerism. And when I'm talking about corruption, I'm talking about not upholding your oath to the US Constitution, to understand that there are enumerated powers for the federal government, and those powers are supposed to be limited. There's no reason for a member of Congress or a US Senator to be directing money to be spent in their state. What they should be doing is lessening the tax burden and let the states figure out where they want to spend the money.
GLENN: So you're looking at the Convention of States, and do you believe that the Trump presidency has made this more likely or less likely to happen?
TOM: Well, I don't know, Glenn. I don't think it's less likely because you just saw -- here's the greatest example in the world of why we need it. Here's -- the supposed fiscal conservatives now who want to reintroduce earmarks. So I don't know the answer to that. What I do know is that if, in fact, there's not big change over the next two years in the behavior in Washington and liberty is lost again and money is spent that we don't have that we're barring from future generations, the election two years from now is going to be very difficult for those in charge.
GLENN: Tom, you know, I look at the situation -- you had a story out of Australia today and 12 days ago out of India where Citibank is doing what India just did. And they're limiting cash. And they're getting rid of the, you know -- the 10-dollar bill in India.
Citibank announced yesterday or tomorrow that in Australia, many of their banks will be entirely cashless. And the world seems to be going to a cashless society because, quote, it's good for business and good for the banks and security. I -- I just have this fear, as we -- we start going down this road, all this stuff is going to collapse. And the people are not going to go for another bailout. The banks have already worked it out with the government to have a bail-in. Things can radically, radically change quickly.
Do you agree with that?
TOM: Well, I think they can. The question is, is how do you prevent that? And the way you prevent it is you start right now with the new president and a new Congress not spending money that you don't have on things that you don't need.
And so whether they manipulate whether we have a currency or not, that's a symptom of the underlying problem.
Right now, Glenn, the unfunded liabilities for America is $144 trillion. This grew about 4 trillion last year. That's a million dollars per taxpayer. That's $24 trillion more than the entire worth of the country.
So when people say there's no problem, we can borrow money -- you can borrow money as long as people are willing to loan it to you. But history shows us that both democracies and republics that borrow money at a rate greater than their GDP failed.
And so has every other republic before us failed? Yes. Will we fail? Yes.
If, in fact, we don't have real courageous, moral leadership --
GLENN: Well, we don't have that --
TOM: -- that says you don't spend the future's money.
GLENN: Well, we don't have that. We don't have that. So that's why the project of states is so important -- the Convention of States is so important. The Constitution gives us a way out.
I am a full-fledged backer of this. I can't -- I mean, I think this is the answer. There's a lot of Republicans at least here in Texas that say, "Oh, it's not bad enough to use, you know, Article V."
I don't know what they would be waiting for. But there's a lot of people that are -- you know, the -- the business-as-usual people don't want this to happen.
We are now in a situation where we're one state away from making this happen.
STU: There was a report -- maybe you know this fact, Senator, but we're one state away from having enough Republicans in control of legislatures that if they all passed it -- you could do it essentially without any Democrats stopping it.
TOM: Right. But it really is a bipartisan thing.
TOM: You know, we have a lot of Democrats supporting what we're doing.
GLENN: Right. And you have a lot of Republicans that are stick in the muds.
TOM: Well, but, again, that's what a grassroots movement is all about, is changing that.
GLENN: Right. Right. Right.
TOM: So here's the point: You have this example, right after Election November 8th, that the status quo, elite careerists in Washington all of a sudden want to bring back a tool of corruption. So they're tone-deaf. So the only thing -- the only tool America has that's big enough to fix the problem that we have is an Article V convention of amendments, where amendments are made that brings power back to the states, that limits the stupidity that's going on in Washington today.
Remember, every year, every year, $500 billion is thrown out the window in Washington. Total waste, total duplication (phonetic), total fraud. That's a half a trillion dollars a year.
TOM: Had we had really strong members of Congress -- I don't care what party they're from -- that took their oath seriously, we wouldn't have that. We would have $500 billion more a year that we wouldn't be taxed for or we wouldn't be barring against for our kids.
So the only tool we have is an Article V Convention of States. And the American people have to know that here's the greatest example you can see. Here's the tone-deafness, the elitism, the careerism. We want to enhance our own personal power by using earmarks to look good at home, to collect money for campaigns, to enhance our future as a career politician.
I mean, listen, Mitch McConnell, first thing he said after the president-elect said about term limits -- he said, "We're not bringing term limits up." No, he's not going to bring term limits up. He's been there 30 years. Why would he bring term limits up? And he's part of the problem
GLENN: And so the people that say -- well, especially now, the Democrats are freaking out, and they would love to open up the Constitution. What -- what do you --
TOM: Well, they don't have the power to do that. An Article V Convention by law and Supreme Court precedent, has only the power to discuss what's in its application.
So Convention of States has an application for the financial aspects of the federal government; i.e., a balanced budget amendment, using generally accepted accounting principles. Number two, term limits on members of Congress and appointed members of the government. And number three, limiting the scope, power, and jurisdiction of the federal government. So there's only three areas. So you can't open it up. And it's not a constitutional convention. It's a convention for amendments to the Constitution that we have.
GLENN: Right. But we couldn't do what -- let's say what they did in the last Progressive Era. And I'm not suggesting anybody wants to do this. But you couldn't come in and say, "I want prohibition."
TOM: No, you couldn't do any of that because it doesn't have anything to do -- you can only have a meeting by precedent, by history, and by common sense, what is listed in your application. And all the applications have to match. So there's no -- there's no risk whatsoever, zero, nada, of a, quote, runaway convention. And there never has been one.
PAT: I don't think you make that point --
TOM: But that's what people against us always use, oh, well, we'll probably lose some of our rights -- well, that's the elitist power-hungry group that wants to continue things the way it is that have us bankrupt as a nation. You know, look at median family income. Median family income dropped $7,000 under this president.
TOM: That means 50 percent of the people are making $7,000 in real dollars less a year than they were before he became president.
GLENN: My gosh.
PAT: But it's also a lot of frightened conservatives, Senator because they are worried -- which is why you can't make the application point enough -- because they're worried that they're going to try to, you know, eliminate the Second Amendment. Or --
TOM: Well, here's the thing they ought to worry about, we have a runaway federal government right now. Why don't you worry about that?
TOM: And the people that are promoting the fear, they lack courage. There is no --
TOM: There is no fear in doing the right thing.
TOM: There's a lot of fear hunkering down saying, "Oh, I'm afraid. I'm afraid. I'm afraid." And consequently, we go down the tubes.
So you get a choice. You can either stand up and fight for your liberty and fight for your rights and fight for a limited federal government like was intended, or you can continue let the federal government control 70 percent of everything in our economy and in our states.
GLENN: I can't -- I can't recommend highly enough that you get involved with the Convention of States Project. I think this is the answer. This is the way to give the power back to the people. This is what we've been looking for. And time is of the essence. And we're making great progress. If -- we sure need you on the battlefront here in Texas.
If people want to get involved, Tom, how do they do it?
TOM: They go to ConventionofStates.com. They can find out -- they can volunteer there. They can find out -- they can ask any question they want. It's already been answered on that website.
We address all these things that people are worried about and talk about why those can't happen. And they allow you to hook up with somebody locally in both your county, your district, your voting district, your congressional district, or your state House district or your state Senate district. And then become involved so you can actually influence your legislator to vote for this.
GLENN: Tom, thank you very much. Tom Coburn, former senator.
TOM: You're welcome. God bless you, Glenn.
GLENN: God bless you. Have a good Thanksgiving, sir.
It is -- it's critical. You really want to drain the swamp? They're not going to do it in Washington. They will do it this way. ConventionofStates.com.
Featured Image: Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) questions witnesses about military equipment given to local law enforcement departments by the federal government during a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing about at the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill September 9, 2014 in Washington, DC. In the wake of the Ferguson, MO, police response to peaceful protests, senators on the committee were critical of the federal grant programs that allow local and state law enforcement agencies to buy armored vehicles, assult rifles, body armor and other military equipment. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)