Deficit hawk Coburn rejects benefits for homeless women veterans

In his zeal for deficit reduction, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) has objected to Sen. Patty Murray’s (D-Wash.) bill to provide benefits to homeless woman veterans and homeless veterans with children:

Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) asked for unanimous consent to approve a $3.4 billion bill to help homeless women veterans and homeless vets with kids. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell objected on behalf of Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), who is taking a stand against any measure that adds to the deficit.

“If we don’t start paying for new programs and continue on our path to bankruptcy we’ll have a homelessness problem beyond imagination,” Coburn spokesman John Hart told HuffPost. “The old Washington excuse that it’s too hard to cut spending is undermining our troops, our veterans and our future.”

It goes without saying that $3.4 billion represents a minute percentage of this year’s $1.4 trillion budget deficit. Of course, Coburn’s stance doesn’t represent some sort of hatred toward the homeless; it’s just that his party has long since committed to a strategy of unanimous opposition to Democratic initiatives, particularly if they cost any money. The goal it seems clear is to deny Democrats any legislative victory that could aid them in the midterm elections, and a bill to provide benefits to homeless veterans falls squarely into that category.

Even Coburn didn’t argue that tens of thousands of people might be saved from falling deeper into the spiral of homelessness if the bill were to pass.

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Jamelle Bouie

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