Americans have five years to fix the country before it is too late, said U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn during a town hall meeting Monday in Guthrie's City Council Chamber.
Coburn, R-Oklahoma, addressed the concerns Oklahomans voiced at the event. With more than 70 citizens in attendance, some stood outside the chamber to ask questions concerning health care, unemployment and immigration.
Immediately opening up the town hall meeting for questions, Coburn expressed a desire for the federal government to become more fiscally responsible.
"Every republic in the history of man has died of fiscal issues; go back and study it," he said. "If things do not change, 20 years from now, those 25 years of age and younger now will be paying more than $60,000 a year before they pay for their first income tax. That kind of drag will kill our economy, and that's why fixing the spending problem should be our No. 1 problem. We should not lessen the future and pay for it ourselves."
DEBATE AND DISPUTE
Throughout the meeting, individuals expressed disdain for the leadership in Washington. One man called U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi "not high school evil, but evil evil," and one woman asked how to impeach President Barack Obama.
To this, Coburn said citizens need to focus on the issues and not the people, citing Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wisconsin, as one of the best people he has worked with in the Senate because how "absolutely, intellectually honest" Feingold is.
"(The president) comes from a totally different frame of reference. He sees things in a different light; it doesn't mean that it is wrong to have that position, and we shouldn't be critical of that," Coburn said. "One of the things we can't lose in our country is the idea of a legitimate debate over the issues."
However, he said the news media outlets have made the debate into a fight between people on two opposing sides.
In terms of health care, Coburn was critical of the Oklahoma Legislature's lack of "common-sense reform" to keep doctors from leaving to go to Texas, where they have already started reforming.
As citizens are seeing the consequences of the past 2008 elections, Coburn stressed to attendees that there will be another election.
"There is no problem too big for us to whip, but how we are going to do it is thinking about the long term, the long-term vision, a vision that will create the same kind of opportunities for our children and grandchildren that were created for us," he said. "We can't think inward. We have to think outward toward the future. ... I will not be a part of a fix, not if it is on the backs of our grandkids." "LeighAnne Manwarren