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Thursday, October 27, 2005

Coburn Sees Progress on Porkbusters Effort, Vows Fight for the Long Run, Wants Spending Sunshine

Oklahoma's most familiar gift to America for many people is Will Rogers, the New Deal era humorist who was also at one time the most popular newspaper columnist in the country. The day may soon come, though, when Tom Coburn will also be widely considered as among the Sooner State's most important contributions to the national life.

I just participated in an extremely informative conference call with the Oklahoma Republican senator and a group of fellow bloggers, with the latter offering suggestions on how to build on the progress made on Capitol Hill in recent weeks toward implementing the concept behind the Porkbusters project.

It was clear virtually from the outset of the conversation that Coburn is absolutely serious about continuing and expanding this effort, which he began in the Senate last week with a blizzard of amendments transferring funds from well-known pork barrel projects like "the Bridge to Nowhere" in Alaska to paying for Hurricane Katrina recovery and reconstruction.

The Coburn amendments were decisively defeated, but markers were laid down in the process and millions of Americans were watching closely (due in great part to the Blogosphere) as senators cast their votes on the proposals. As a result, those votes may well have more to do with the future career prospects of a number of senators who opposed Coburn than any of them, or the mainstream media, now realize.

Among the suggestions offered to Coburn from the bloggers participating in the conference call were posting appropriations bills on the internet before they are voted on in Congress, opening up proposed legislation for public review and comment via the internet and requiring detailed explanations in bill reports of individual pork barrel projects.

If you want to know more about Coburn, go here. For a description of the Senate's previous experience with allowing public comment on proposed legislation, check out this Glenn Reynolds column. And if you have suggestions for what should be the next step for the Porkbusters campaign, please post them right here in the comments for this post.

The importance of the Porkbusters campaign is not limited to getting rid of wasteful federal spending. Coburn will be doing the Republic an immense public service if that is all he achieves, but there is much more to it. He knows getting the fat out requires far greater transparency in the legislative process, and indeed the entire government, as well as a new attitude of honesty in the budget process and the politics of the budget.

That's why for those who recognize in Big Government the most serious threat to individual liberty, spreading the good word about Coburn's campaign ought to be Priority One. Like Lincoln said, "let the people know the facts and all will be well."

UPDATE: 3:00 p.m.

Here are posts from other bloggers on the Coburn conference call, as I see them appearing on the sites. Instapundit, Wizbang, Townhall.com's Capitol Report, Right Wing News and RedState.org.