Monday, October 4, 2010

Sen. Coburn: Screw Haiti

In March, the United States pledged more than $1.5 billion in long-term aid to help Haiti rebuild from the devastating earthquake that struck the impoverished island nation on January 12. Ten months later, do you know how much of that aid has been disbursed? If you answered none, you are correct, and the man to thank for that inaction is Oklahoma's Senator Tom Coburn.

Coburn insists that he's taking his stand against releasing the reconstruction funds for Haiti as part of his fight against government waste, namely the $1 million that would go towards paying for a manager and staff to oversee the dispersal of the Congressional funds. Coburn asks why can't the United States' ambassador just serve in this role – a statement that shows that Coburn not only lacks basic human compassion but also a knowledge of how the US foreign service actually works. An ambassador's duties are to represent the American state to a foreign government and to provide assistance to American citizens and businesses in a foreign land, not to manage the installation of US-funded sewer pipes in Port-Au-Prince.

Of course Coburn's real motivation is to be able to show his politically conservative base that he's fighting against “government waste”, and Haiti provides him with a golden opportunity for some top-flight political grandstanding without inconveniencing any Americans – the only people who are suffering are the thousands of Haitians forced to live among their own filth and the rubble of their former lives because the funds America promised are not available to help them rebuild. It's worth noting here that paying for a project manager and staff (whose salaries would amount to less than one-one thousandth of the total aid package) would ensure that the Congressional assistance funds were used as intended and not skimmed off by Haiti's notoriously corrupt government – ironically its an effective way to fight against government waste just like Coburn alleges he wants to do.

Perhaps the best way to resolve this situation and fight against waste would be to rescind Coburn's Senatorial salary, this would not only help pay for the aid management staff in Haiti it would also be a worthwhile stand against government waste since the man certainly isn't earning his money.
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