Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Understatement of the Week: Joe Biden

Vice President Joe Biden attended a Democrat fundraiser in Tulsa last night, and made the understatement of the week. The Tulsa World reports this quote coming as Biden was speaking of the Democrat Party's past in Oklahoma:

"The proud history is there," Biden said, "but there's 
been quite a bit of a drought." 

Yep, that's right, Joe.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Pinnell: Flyover State Blues? Not in Oklahoma!

Flyover State Blues
by Oklahoma Republican Party Chairman Matt Pinnell

Seems like every time a Presidential race heats up midwestern states get the 'Flyover State Blues'. The term "Flyover Country" refers to the part of the country that many Americans only view by air and never actually see in person at ground level. When Presidential campaigns start mapping out campaign stops- Flyover Country usually gets the same flyover treatment.

Some states (Arizona, Michigan and Florida to name a few) are so fed up they've flirted with the idea of jumping to the front of the line. Problem is, New Hampshire and Iowa have automatic triggers in their state statues that would move their Presidential Primary if a state tries to jump them. The RNC supports the current calendar too, and is threatening to slash National Delegates if states do in fact cut in line.

I wish states would simply take care of their own business at home and stop worrying about where they are in line or if they are labeled a flyover state. Oklahoma is the reddest state in the country. We got that title and our State House and Senate majorities in Presidential election years. Ricky Bobby from Talladega Nights would tell you "If you aren't first, you're last!" Well, Oklahoma isn't first, but we are doing just fine with our placement in line!

While states need to play by the rules, there are ways to make your state more appealing to Presidential candidates, and I believe we accomplished that this past weekend at our OKGOP State Committee Meeting.

The way OKGOP rules defined a proportional state was not how the RNC defined a proportional state. Therefore, we needed to change this party rule to be in compliance with the RNC. The change makes OK a proportional state statewide (with some minimum requirements). Therefore, if no presidential candidate receives more than 50% of the statewide primary vote, then Delegates would be awarded proportionally, just as is currently done in our congressional districts. This rule passed overwhelming last Saturday.

This new rule is not only a more fair way to award our statewide at large Delegates, but it also changes the game for GOP Presidential hopefuls.

If you remember, four years ago John McCain was the winner of our statewide at-large Delegates because OK was a winner-take-all state in regards to the statewide vote results. However, he had only received 36% of the statewide Republican vote, far from a majority of the will of Oklahoma's primary voters. Mike Huckabee, who received 33%, and Romney who received almost 25%, didn't receive any at large Delegate votes. Under the new rule, since McCain didn't receive more than 50%, any candidate receiving more than 15% of the statewide vote would've received delegate votes. I believe that type of proportional setup would be very intriguing to this large and very deep field of GOP candidates.

Flyover blues? Nah, not in Oklahoma.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

State of the Race: My Take

The Ames Straw Poll is over. Tim Pawlenty is out. Rick Perry is in. The debates are taking place. Sarah Palin is still hinting. Candidates are pounding pavement in the early states.

What does the race look like right now for the GOP presidential primary? This post is my take on the landscape as it currently stands, divided into three categories of candidates.

The Contenders

I view the nomination as a battle between three individuals - Mitt Romney, Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann; or, another way to put it, Mitt Romney versus 'Not-Romney'.

Mitt Romney

After falling short in 2008, Mitt Romney finds himself at the head of the pack - and with that comes the added attention and criticism the lead man gets. Four years have given his opponents ample time to sharpen their knives, and Romney's embrace of his Massachusetts health care program (which ObamaCare was modeled after) has done little to help him on what is sure to be one of the hottest topics this cycle.

Romney is in the same position as John McCain was in 2008; almost every other candidate is to the right of him, and he is the one they all love to hate. Nevertheless, due to his large war chest, well-oiled campaign machine and experience gained in 2007-2008 on the campaign trail, he is the leader - for now. Romney's best chance is for the rest of the field to continue to be diluted, but if the grassroots begin to consolidate behind one candidate, he will be in trouble.

Rick Perry 

The big Texan has burst on the scene, and in a short time has taken this race by the horns. But does Perry have the staying power to wrestle it to the ground? Only time will tell.

As the newest kid on the block, Perry has not undergone as thorough a national vetting as the others. Expect him to hit some rough patches. However, his organization is top-notch, and has the advantage of running numerous races in one of the largest states in the Union. The transition from gubernatorial to presidential campaigning will likely be much smoother for Perry's team than it was for any other candidate.

At the moment, Perry may have the aura of the conservative's best hope to beat Romney, but the longer he is in the race, the more his record will be scrutinized, and there will be controversial issues some conservatives may find troubling. Also, Perry will still have to keep other 'Not-Romney' candidates at bay to secure the nomination.

Michele Bachmann

The feisty congresswoman from Minnesota may have been passed up by the surging Perry, but underestimate Michele Bachmann at your own peril. Bachmann is to the right of both Romney and Perry, and is well connected with the Tea Party movement, which will benefit her.

However, she does face several hurdles. First of all, nobody has gone straight to the White House from the U.S. House since James Garfield was elected in 1880 (Gerald Ford was appointed Vice President, then became President when Nixon resigned; Ford was never elected to either office). Secondly, the winner of the Ames Straw Poll rarely becomes the winner of the Iowa Caucus, or of the nomination. Her path to the nomination relies almost entirely on winning in Iowa.

Bachmann has lost some steam as the 'Not-Romney' focus has been moved to Perry for the time being, but I think she can bounce back. Perry's entrance will force Bachmann and her campaign to work harder (with Perry in, if Palin also ran it would be devastating to Michele's chances). At this stage, Bachmann is still in the top tier, and very much in the running.

The Man who will not go away

Ron Paul

The libertarian-leaning congressman from Texas almost defies categorizing. There is a definite gap between Romney/Perry/Bachmann/Paul and the rest of the crowd, with Paul in the rear of the top four. Nevertheless, I do not include him in my Contenders category.

I'm sure I'll catch some flak from the Paul crowd, but I see little room for Paul to grow, and I don't see him even getting close to winning the nomination. He holds many views that are outside the mainstream of Republican and conservative thought, and will only appeal to a limited slice of the primary electorate. Ron Paul will not be going away, but he has little room to grow.

Paul has attracted a very obsessed and zealous following, from which he raises large sums of money. However, I don't think he can spend enough money to gain enough support to win in the Republican primary. I don't see him becoming anything other than a niche candidate.

The Background Noise

Some of these candidates appeared as if they would break into the top, or at one time actually led in polling, but have since dissipated to the degree that they will have little impact on the race. Others never had a chance at all.

Herman Cain

Cain is done. It's unfortunate, because I thought he might have a shot at becoming a very serious contender, but shallow support, serious gaffes, and sub-par debate performances seem to have done him in.

Herman is a very charismatic individual and can energize the Republican base, but his political inexperience has caused problems for him on the campaign trail, and as a result, the campaign is suffering. Polling has shown a sharp drop for Cain, and I don't see him recovering.

Rick Santorum

The former senator never really had a chance to begin with. His only shot at the nomination is to win in Iowa, and that simply will not happen with Perry, Bachmann, Romney and Paul all taking significant portions of the Hawkeye electorate.

Newt Gingrich

Newt Gingrich may be an intelligent individual, but he has offended too many conservatives and been out of politics too long to be a viable candidate. His debate performances, particularly at the most recent one, have been atrocious, with Newt coming off as a grumpy old man who can't handle tough questions. Newt should hang up his hat and go home before he makes an even greater fool of himself.

Jon Huntsman

If Jon Huntsman thinks playing the moderate in the race will secure the nomination in this climate, he is sadly mistaken. Enough said.

Thad McCotter

Thad McCotter is a great guy with a dry sense of humor, but honestly, the congressman never had a remote chance at getting anywhere near the top in this primary. I don't know what he was thinking when he decided to get in.

Gary Johnson

Gary Johnson is a non-candidate for numerous reasons, the biggest of which is Ron Paul. Johnson is even more libertarian than Paul is, and that will not fly in a Republican primary. Gary would be better suited running on the Libertarian ticket - where he would meet with equal electoral non-success.

The Palin Wild-card

Sarah Palin

If Palin jumps in, which I consider unlikely, the primary game could change dramatically. Palin is immensely popular with the grassroots, and can raise a ton of money, but does popularity translate into votes? Sarah no longer polls as well as she once did, but that could change if she gets in.

Candidate Palin would immediately join the top-tier, most likely pushing Michele Bachmann out at the same time. I do think Palin has a harder time convincing people she can beat Obama; her brand has been damaged (unfairly so) that I don't know how viable she really is as a general election candidate. Nevertheless, like I said, if Sarah Palin gets in, everything changes, and that could be very positive for her.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Coburn holding Muskogee town hall this evening

U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, M.D., has been holding a series of town hall meetings in Oklahoma this week, and will be in Muskogee for an event this evening. Dr. Coburn will take questions and address important issues for Oklahoma and the nation at each meeting.

“I encourage everyone to attend and participate in these town halls. These settings give me an important opportunity to hear directly from the Oklahomans I am representing, and they provide a chance for Oklahomans to hear my views on current legislation in Congress,” said Dr. Coburn.

The Muskogee Town Hall will begin at 5:00pm, and will be held at the Muskogee Civic Center, Room D (425 Boston/5th and Okmulgee). Note: from past experience, it would be wise to show up early in order to get a seat.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Tulsa Tower Standoff: 127 Hours, 40 Minutes [finally over]

UPDATE: After 127 hours and 40 minutes, Tulsa Police finally talked William Sturdivant out of the tower.

A standoff has been ongoing for the past 123 hours, after a man climbed onto the FOX 23 communications tower in Tulsa on Thursday morning. The individual, who has a criminal record and a history of mental illness, has been sitting about 100 feet above the ground for several days.

More on the story here.


KOTV has a live feed here. The negotiator is getting closer to "Tower Guy".

Poll: Perry leads in Oklahoma

Perry Leads GOP Field in Oklahoma
Pat McFerron, CHS

In a survey conducted just days before he formally entered the race, Texas Governor Rick Perry holds a 5-point lead over Mitt Romney in the Sooner State. In the survey of 215 registered Republicans in Oklahoma. Perry is the choice of 22% while Romney claims support from 17%. Michele Bachmann is a distant third in the state (8%) and is followed by Herman Cain (6%) and Newt Gingrich (5%).

In 2008, Romney finished third with just under 25% of the vote in Oklahoma’s primary, trailing both John McCain (37%) and Mike Huckabee (33%).

In addition to leading the overall ballot, Perry shows strength among key elements of the Oklahoma primary electorate. Among the most active Republican primary voters (the 24% who have voted in the last four partisan primaries), Perry’s lead is even greater (20% Perry vs. 12% Romney), though Bachmann does make a stand (19%). Perry also has a strong lead among the 20% of Republicans most interested in moral issues (21% Perry vs. 7% Romney) and the 61% who describe themselves as “strong conservatives” (30% Perry vs. 12% Romney vs. 11% Bachmann).

Romney’s most significant lead is among the 20% of Oklahoma Republicans living in households with annual incomes in excess of $100,000 (31% Romney vs. 19% Perry).

In another way to test the strength of the national candidates, Republicans were asked a follow-up question about if they would support either former Congressman J.C. Watts or U.S. Senator Tom Coburn as a favorite son in the state. In this instance, 58% of Republicans said they would support one of the “favorite son” candidates, while only 23% said they would support one of the national candidates. When looking at this question, we see that Perry’s support is slightly stronger than is Romney’s, as 68% of Romney’s supporters would opt for one of Oklahoma’s favorite sons, whereas only 54% of Perry’s would do the same.

The survey, conducted August 9-11, 2011 was the Republican portion of a 500-sample survey of voters statewide. Subscribers to Cole Hargrave Snodgrass & Associates’ publication The Sooner Survey will get the results of the full survey. The Republican sub-sample has a margin of error is +/- 6.7%.

Also of interest is the fact that Perry’s lead is not solely in those areas bordering Texas. In fact, in the Oklahoma City and Tulsa media markets (which do not cover Texas news or politics) Perry’s lead is almost identical to what is seen statewide.

“Despite the small sample size and the time before Oklahoma’s primary, it is clear Rick Perry is the candidate to beat in Oklahoma. The cross-tabulations indicate he is already the choice of the most prolific voters, and one could expect his strength to grow in this neighboring state,” stated Pat McFerron, Director of Survey Research for Cole Hargrave Snodgrass & Associates, a position he has held since 1994. “When looking at the large number of undecided voters, there is no reason to think they would break against Perry.”

It should be noted, Tim Pawlenty was included in the study, as interviewing occurred prior to his withdrawal.

Text of questions and percentage responses follow.

1. If the Republican primary for President were held today, would you be voting for:
Rick Perry - 22%
Mitt Romney - 17%
Michele Bachmann - 8%
Herman Cain - 6%
Newt Gingrich - 5%
Ron Paul - 3%
John Huntsman - 2%
Tim Pawlenty - 2%
Undecided (vol.) - 33%

2. As you may be aware, in the past, some states have run candidates known as favorite sons for President. If either JC Watts or Tom Coburn ran for President as an Oklahoma favorite son, would you vote for one of these two candidates or one of those running nationwide?
Would vote for national candidate - 23%
Would vote for Watts or Coburn - 58%
Undecided (vol.) - 18%

NOTE: in the 2008 Oklahoma presidential primary, Romney received 24% of the vote, and Ron Paul received 3%. This CHS poll shows Paul at the same level, and Romney seven points down. None of the other candidates have run for president before.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Bachmann wins at Ames

The Ames Straw Poll was held today at the Iowa State Fair in Ames, Iowa. While the Straw Poll doesn't always accurately predict the victor in the Iowa caucus, or the eventual GOP presidential nominee, it is the first big test for most campaigns, and poor finishes tend to cause some candidates to pull out of the running (this is especially true for second- or third-tier candidates).

So, without further ado, here are the results.

2011 Straw Poll Full Results (courtesy of the Iowa GOP)

  1. Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (4823, 28.55%)
  2. Congressman Ron Paul (4671, 27.65%)
  3. Governor Tim Pawlenty (2293, 13.57%)
  4. Senator Rick Santorum (1657, 9.81%)
  5. Herman Cain (1456, 8.62%)
  6. Governor Rick Perry (718, 3.62%) write-in
  7. Governor Mitt Romney (567, 3.36%)
  8. Speaker Newt Gingrich (385, 2.28%)
  9. Governor Jon Huntsman (69, 0.41%)
  10. Congressman Thad McCotter (35, 0.21%)
    Miscellaneous (162, 0.96 %) Includes all those receiving votes at less than 1% that were not on the ballot.

Romney, Gingrich and Huntsman skipped the Straw Poll, and thus their numbers were expected to be low in the first place. Rick Perry only announced his candidacy today, and thus was not included on the actual ballot; his votes came as write-ins.

Adam Graham at has a must-read summary on the winners and losers, which I completely agree with. This probably dealt a major blow to the Pawlenty, Santorum and Cain campaigns, but I think especially so to Pawlenty, who had so much resting on a good finish at Ames.

Don't be surprised if a few of these candidates begin to drop out.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

No Congressional Run for Corn

Former State Senator Kenneth Corn (D-Poteau) announced today that he will not be running to succeed Congressman Dan Boren in the 2nd Congressional District, following the recent death of his mother.

"After much soul searching and because of pressing personal matters brought on by the heart-breaking death of my mother only days ago, I have decided that I will not be a candidate for the 2nd Congressional District seat being vacated by Dan Boren," Corn said in a statement on Facebook.

"Previously I had indicated I would likely be a candidate and that was very true. However, my mother's passing has changed my needs and the needs of my family, and I know that the needs of my house far outreach the importance of a seat in the House."

Corn's exit leaves no visible Democrat candidate in the works; presently, there are nearly ten Republicans who have either announced their candidacy or are considering running for the seat (ironically, several of those individuals live outside of the 2nd District).

Back in June, Public Policy Polling conducted a survey of the district on behalf of Brad Carson, who at the time was considering running, but ultimately decided to not run. The poll found that Corn was essentially tied with State Rep. George Faught (R-Muskogee), even though Corn had built up name recognition from his 2010 statewide campaign for Lieutenant Governor.

With both Carson and Corn out of the running, things are looking bad for the Democrats.

Friday, August 05, 2011

A Blogging Milestone: Three Years on the Web

On July 31st, 2008, I launched this blog. That was three years ago (and yes, I missed The Day once again). 87,000+ hits. Over 845 comments. Wow. Time flies!

I've had a great time blogging these past three years. I've met people I would never have met, gone to events I would have had no reason to go to, learned about many issues I would have never looked into... needless to say, I'm glad I did it.

Have you ever thought of blogging? Let me take this time to encourage you to join the "club"! It really is much easier than you would expect, and will open up new doors for you. If you would have asked me three years ago that the Washington Post would list my blog, along with two others, as the best political blogs in Oklahoma, I wouldn't have believed you. Nevertheless, that is where I find myself.

I don't blog for a living, and you don't have to, either. Do it as a hobby - as a way to blow off some steam in this boiling political climate. Too intimidating to have a full-fledged blog? Join Twitter, and become a part of the 140 characters-or-less micro-blogging community! Get on Facebook and share information with your friends. Whatever you do, do something. Our republic depends on an involved and informed citizenry.

Oh, and be sure to have some fun along the way.

And while I'm at it, don't forget to keep reading Muskogee Politico! (and follow me on Twitter!)

WaPo lists Bates, McCarville, Faught top Oklahoma political bloggers

Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post's The Fix recently compiled a list of the "best state-based political blogs" in the country, based on recommendations from readers and political junkies.

Representing Oklahoma on The Fix's list are Michael Bates' BatesLine, Mike McCarville's The McCarville Report Online, and Muskogee Politico (authored by yours truly).

I am humbled to have been included with these two fine gentlemen on this list. Blogging has been a very good experience for me, and I hope I have been able to pass along good information to my readers, and given them reason to come back often!

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Coaches Poll: OU ranked 1st, OSU 8th

Aug. 4, 2011 - preseason poll

Team (first-place votes)
2010 record
Final 2010 ranking
Oklahoma (42)
Alabama (13)
Oregon (2)
LSU (2)
Texas A&M

For the rest of the Top 25, click here.

Column: Pity the debt-paying generation

Pity the debt-paying generation
By Bill Beach and Dustin Siggins
The Heritage Foundation

The outlook for the Debt-Paying Generation - those young Americans on the hook for our monstrous national debt - keeps getting worse.

Take two developments in just in the last two months: First, the Congressional Budget Office released an update showing that since last year the amount of debt it expects America to carry (as a percentage of GDP) in 2035 has jumped significantly.

Second, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker John Boehner each made it clear that they think cutting less than 10 percent of spending over the next 10 years is a responsible way to govern.

The CBO report continues a long series of annual warnings that the fiscal future is getting steadily grimmer: "Debt held by the public is now projected to grow even faster in the next decade under the alternative fiscal scenario than CBO projected last year. ... By 2021, it would exceed 100 percent of GDP, 10 percentage points higher than projected in 2010. In later years, debt would follow a path similar to what CBO projected last year, reaching almost 190 percent of GDP in 2035, effectively the same level as projected previously."

As columnist Peggy Noonan noted some months ago, part of the reason for the existence of the tea party is that compromise in Washington is often between moderates and liberals, not liberals and conservatives.

For example, the CBO said the initial phase of the Boehner compromise would take the debt per worker in 2021 from about $161,631 to about $156,324 - clearly, laughably inadequate. As one of us once wrote, "You can't balance the federal budget and stay inside today's policy lines. Rethink the lines, however, and you'll be amazed how quickly we could move toward fiscal sanity. It's all a matter of those tricky lines."

Thinking outside the lines is just why we are writing a book about the Debt-Paying Generation. It's also why Bill Beach was a lead author of a recent Heritage Foundation report on a plan to return to a balanced budget.

In that plan ("Saving the American Dream"), Heritage called for achieving permanent budget surpluses by 2021; pro-growth tax reform; and entitlement reform. While there is plenty of room for debating how we get to permanent total budget surpluses, the fact is that we need real solutions - and fast.

Heritage's plan is but one answer, but it is one that can work.

Unfortunately, except for rare exceptions such as Sens. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., and Rand Paul, R-Ky., both of whom have plans that would balance the budget sooner than anyone else on Capitol Hill, much of Washington would rather pay attention to the latest Washington sex scandal than worry about the real threat that is America's growing national debt.

When it really comes down to it, the budget debate can be reduced to the following points:

1. Reform our immoral and inefficient tax code, perhaps by replacing it with a flat expenditure tax, such as Heritage proposed. A strong period of economic growth will be needed to help lift us out of our fiscal mess, and the flat expenditure tax frees the economy to grow at its potential while supplying government with the revenues it needs.

2. Cut spending. To start, basically anything ending with "Department" or "Administration" should be closely scrutinized for need and effectiveness. Doubtless hundreds of billions in outlays each year could be saved by reforming broken programs and eliminating those that simply don't work. Entitlements, of course, must be reformed.

3. Shrink the size of government employee rolls. Fully one-sixth of America's workers are employed by some level of government, and when one adds the millions of defense and other contractors into the mix, more than 30 million people are employed by tax dollars. These are dollars that, instead of expanding the economic pie or tax revenue are simply recycled. We support cutting 10 percent of all government employees or contractors, to start.

As James Agresti recently noted in The Daily Caller, the longer that Americans bury their collective heads in the sand, the more extreme solutions will have to be. Today's seniors and near-seniors could have supported minor increases in retirement ages; partial or full privatization; or any of a number of other options 20 years ago to entitlements that would have made Medicare and Social Security better off today and in the foreseeable future. They could have voted for politicians who wanted a fair tax code instead of one riddled with special-interest loopholes.

Instead, the status quo was largely kept in place. Now solutions must be drastic if we are to prevent the Debt-Paying Generation from bearing the consequences of the decisions of their parents and grandparents.

About the writers

William Beach is director of the Center for Data Analysis at The Heritage Foundation. Dustin Siggins is a former policy researcher in the Center for Data Analysis at Heritage. Readers may write to the authors in care of The Heritage Foundation, 214 Massachusetts Avenue NE, Washington, D.C. 20002; Web site: Information about Heritage's funding may be found at

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Coburn: Why I voted against the debt deal

Why I voted against the debt deal
by U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, M.D.

The good news out of the debt debate is that Washington is now debating how much we can cut instead of how much we can spend. The American people deserve all the credit for forcing that change. Unfortunately, it’s still all talk in Washington. This deal is a victory for politicians but a defeat for families.

In spite of what politicians on both sides are saying, this agreement does not cut any spending over 10 years. In fact, it increases discretionary spending by $830 billion.

I voted against this agreement because it does nothing to address the real drivers of our debt. It eliminates no program, consolidates no duplicative programs, cuts no tax earmarks and reforms no entitlement program. The specter of default or a credit downgrade will still hang over our economy after this deal becomes law.

Politicians on both sides are misleading the country by calling a slowdown in the growth rate of new spending a “cut.” Spending will increase at a time when real cuts are necessary to make us live within our means, repair our economy and preserve our credit rating.

It is true that next year there will be a genuine cut of $7 billion when discretionary spending drops from $1.05 trillion to $1.043 trillion. But with our government borrowing $4.5 billion a day, that $7 billion is enough to fund the government for about 36 hours. And after our day and a half of restraint, spending will increase $830 billion over 10 years.

Supporters say the real savings will come when the joint committee the deal empowers makes recommendations to reduce the deficit by at least $1.2 trillion (as we increase the debt limit by the same amount). But the enforcement mechanism designed to force these hard decisions — across-the-board cuts to defense and nondefense programs — will never work. Congress will easily evade these caps. In the Senate, all it will take is 60 votes — the threshold for passing anything. Some have complained about defense cuts, but everyone in Washington knows those cuts can be avoided through supplemental or “emergency” spending bills.

I proudly served on the president’s debt commission and spent months negotiating with senators of both parties in the Gang of Six. But I took a break from the Gang of Six because we were not offering enough savings, especially in entitlements, to heal our economy. And the truth is that the joint committee is likely to be a step backward from the Gang of Six and the Bowles-Simpson commission.

I am the first to admit that, with this plan, the commission process in Washington has become a farce. The plan’s joint committee has been called a “super” committee because it is anything but.

For our country’s sake, I hope I am wrong. Nothing prevents the congressional committee from recommending deficit reduction far in excess of $1.2 trillion. For that to happen, however, both sides will have to sacrifice their sacred cows and embrace real entitlement reform and tax reform.

Experience has taught me that to achieve real savings, there is no substitute for being specific. In Washington, however, wide is the road that leads to pledges, commissions and caps, and narrow is the road that leads to cuts. That’s why I have targeted specific excesses such as the “Bridge to Nowhere” and the ethanol tax earmark. It’s why I recently released a 620-page report, “Back in Black,” that makes hundreds of recommendations and calls for $9 trillion in deficit reduction. Congress could spend a year eliminating no-brainer examples of waste and duplication, such as our government’s policy of directing unemployment benefits to millionaires.

I understand that Congress is not ready to accept $9 trillion in deficit reduction even though changes of that magnitude are necessary to heal our economy. Congressional leaders are probably correct that this is the best deal they could have gotten. The only recourse the people have, then, is to elect lawmakers who will produce better results.

I was among the first members of Congress to call for using the debt-limit debate as leverage to force spending cuts. I’m glad I did. Even though the cuts didn’t materialize, the debate informed the American people of the scope and magnitude of the problem.

The real debt crisis is not a debate that has been imposed on Washington by Tea Party activists. It is a crisis Washington has imposed on the American people through laziness, incompetence, dishonesty and political expediency. Politicians can talk all they want about how they did something to address the problem. But when the flaws of this plan become apparent, another change election will be coming.