Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) defended his vote for Sen. Rand Paul’s (R-Ky.) budget proposal that would have eliminated four cabinet departments and slashed funding for others during a chat with bloggers Tuesday at the Heritage Foundation.
Paul’s budget proposal, which only received 16 votes would have eliminated the Departments of Education, Energy, Commerce and Housing and Urban Development.
But Coburn was the most adamant in his support for eliminating HUD, which provides Section 8 rent subsidies for approximately 2 million families.
The Senator declined to explain how what he would do to replace the department and its programs in the event recipients would no longer be able to afford to pay their rents under Paul’s proposal.
“HUD is one of the most ineffective, inefficient agencies in this town,” Coburn said. “[Housing] is not a federal responsibility; I read the Constitution very clearly and there’s a section in there called the enumerated powers.”
Coburn’s solution, transfer the power and money over public housing subsidies back to the states because he suggests they can do it cheaper and more efficiently.
Instead, the Senator chose to discuss the culture of dependency in our country that he says has hurt the poor and undermined their ability to be self-reliant.
“We have taken away the ability for them to flower as a human being and reach aspirations and goals that the all have,” Coburn said. “Learned dependency is the exact opposition of earned success, and when we have a programs enable us to create more learned dependency rather than earned success, I would say we are in a hole we are not going to get out of.”
Coburn suggested that the nation was better in the days before public welfare when localized community-based poverty solutions were the norm because they enabled people to succeed rather than keep them down.
On the Bureau of Indian Affairs, another federal agency Paul’s budget sought to eliminate, Coburn denounced it as an “incompetent” agency.
The Senator’s home state of Oklahoma has the second largest Native American population in the country after California.
“It’s not functioning,” Coburn said. “It’s hard to have a sovereign nation inside a sovereign nation … We are going to have lots of conflicts over the next 20 years over those issues.”