Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Bad Government in Action - US Senate Edition

Senator Tom Coburn is not the most popular man in the US Senate to put it gently. His refusal to accede to the typical "unanimous consent" requests necessary to the chamber's operations under its archaic rules, his use of the filibuster, insistence on transparency and his war on government spending have aroused a lot of ire, and not just on the Democratic side of the aisle.

Still, the Senate's refusal to grant Coburn permission to practice his profession (Coburn is an OB-GYN) is a true low in good government.

The Senate Ethics Committee has warned Coburn that delivering babies in his home state of Oklahoma is a violation of the Senate's rules on outside employment and gave him until June 22nd to cease and desist. Although Coburn doesn't charge for his services (he says he wants to keep his professional skills up because he doesn't plan to stay in Congress until he can't chew his own food the way several unnamed members (on both sides) have), his practice is under the umbrella of a "for profit" entity, which, one infers from the Politico's story, is the problem.

Given that several Members of the US Senate apparently received sweetheart loans (see here and here for just a few samples) from the very company whose mortgage practices helped to get the economy rolling downhill, you'd think it would have better things to do than chase a doctor who is providing free medical care to poor and at risk populations.

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