Senator Tom Coburn is the bane of Majority Leader Harry Reid's existence for relentlessly and fiercely opposing wasteful spending. For example, as FRC reported yesterday:
Repeatedly... Reid... has decided to ramrod legislation through the chamber.... He attempted this - unsuccessfully - with a massive $11 billion spending bill last week. Mockingly called the "Coburn Omnibus" because it contained several programs and expenditures that the OK Senator opposed, Reid's bundle of fiscally irresponsible projects failed.
And now see this most pathetic display of revenge. Reported The Hill July 28:
Sen. Tom Coburn's (R-OK) office hit back Monday at new attempts to prevent him from delivering babies for free, arguing the Ethics panel might as well investigate Sen. Patrick Leahy's (D-VT) cameo in The Dark Knight.
Speaking of, a commercial break with the aforementioned...
Back to The Hill piece...
Coburn has come under new pressure from the Ethics panel for delivering babies at the Muskogee Regional Medical Center, which changed from a public to a private institution in April last year....
In May, Coburn received a strongly worded "final determination" memo threatening him with a Senate censure if he did not stop delivering babies for free....
Coburn spokesman John Hart... called the Ethics panel's logic "absurd" and its argument "inane."
"Just as parents don't choose him hoping to sway his vote, parents don't choose to receive his services at a particular hospital because Dr. Coburn has somehow endorsed that hospital because he is a senator," Hart said in a statement.... "The committee has shown us zero empirical evidence to back up its flimsy claim.
"Has Sen. Leahy provided an improper endorsement to Warner Brothers for appearing in Batman?" Hart asked. "Will millions of Americans now see Batman not because it features stars like Christian Bale or the late Heath Ledger, but because Patrick Leahy, a distinguished U.S. senator, has offered his illustrious endorsement to this motion picture?
"If Sen. Coburn can only deliver babies for free at a public hospital, shouldn't Sen. Leahy only be allowed to donate his notable thespian skills to a public entity like PBS?"
Leahy spokesman David Carle pointed out that his boss gives any proceeds he receives from movie appearances to the Kellogg-Hubbard children's wing of the Montpelier Public Library....
The new fight comes as Coburn is engaged in a battle with Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) over the Senate's legislative agenda. Reid was forced to dedicate the majority of the Senate's time this week to overpowering the holds Coburn has on 35 bills....
Hart also said the Ethics panel should investigate Reid and Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), who chairs the Ethics panel, for book signings they've had at privately owned bookstores if they are going to investigate Coburn's baby deliveries.
"If the committee wants to walk down this path, we would expect they will investigate Sens. Reid and Boxer, who have both held books signing [sic] events at privately owned book stores," Hart wrote. "After all, their events endorsed one book store over another. If Dr. Coburn can only deliver babies for free at public hospitals, Senators should only be permitted to sign books at public libraries."
Reid's and Boxer's offices declined to comment....
Hart estimates that Coburn has delivered dozens of babies since last receiving an ultimatum from the Ethics panel in 2005. Coburn has received no compensation for his work and paid "tens of thousands of dollars" out of his own pocket for medical malpractice insurance and other costs related to his medical practice, Hart said....
Coburn... wants to remain a true citizen-legislator and has long argued that the Senate should allow him to keep serving his patients because he plans to return to the practice when he leaves the Senate in 2016, consistent with his pledge to serve only two terms. He would like to keep up his medical skills if he is going to continue being able to earn a living in his chosen profession....
Asked about the recent Ethics Committee action, Coburn said he doesn't believe he is in violation and will continue to fight any action taken against him.
"All I'm going to say is that's a fight I would relish," he said.
Hart said Coburn has no intention of abandoning his medical oath to his patients under threat of censure....
Were Tom Coburn aborting babies free instead of delivering them free, there would be no investigation; there would be an awards ceremony. This is ridiculous on so many levels, not the least of which is the Democrats' disregard for the poor, unless they control the dole so as to get the credit.
I love this summation of the entire fiasco: "Were Tom Coburn aborting babies free instead of delivering them free, there would be no investigation; there would be an awards ceremony. This is ridiculous on so many levels, not the least of which is the Democrats' disregard for the poor, unless they control the dole so as to get the credit."Posted by: Doyle Chadwick at July 30, 2008 7:34 AM
What can I say? I really like like Dr. Coburn. I wish there were more senators like him.
I really appreciate the fact that the Senate is not his career.
Thanks for highlighting this, Jill.Posted by: MInTheGap at July 30, 2008 7:38 AM
Boxer chairs the Ethics Committee? I didn't realize that. Boy, shouldn't you have to HAVE some Ethics to chair that committee?Posted by: Kristen at July 30, 2008 8:11 AM
What if he only charged $1.00. Is the hospital allowed to tell him how much he's worth?Posted by: mk at July 30, 2008 10:35 AM
Min, hi! Thanks for the wave.Posted by: Jill Stanek at July 30, 2008 11:17 AM
I loved the Dark Knight! I usually don't like those kinds of movies, I hated Spiderman, but I saw this with my parents and we all thought it was really good.
Although I did find these two similar and wonder if this movie is where they got inspiration,
I loved that movie too!Posted by: prettyinpink at July 30, 2008 2:37 PM
It gripes the hell out of the democraps that a Senator has an identifiable skill of value to society.
Other than a very few of their number, politicians have no marketable skills and would be best suited as used-car salesmen, employed only until their stocks of friends and acquaintances as possible "leads" are exhausted.Posted by: Ziggy at July 30, 2008 2:54 PM
"This is ridiculous on so many levels, not the least of which is the Democrats' disregard for the poor, unless they control the dole so as to get the credit."
There was a joke about a conservative and a liberal walking down the street and coming upon a homeless man. The conservative hands him his business card invites him to come into his office to talk about a job, then he hands him twenty dollars. The liberal, not wanting to be outdone, points the man to the nearest welfare office and then hands him fifty dollars from the conservative's pocket.Posted by: Jasper at July 30, 2008 4:57 PM
Jasper I always carry fresh fruit with me. I would have given the homeless man an apple. It's delicious and nutritious!Posted by: Jess at July 30, 2008 8:05 PM
"Who wants to see a magic trick? Watch me make this pencil disappear!"
-The JokerPosted by: Rae at July 30, 2008 11:16 PM
Adam West = "The Man."Posted by: Doug at July 30, 2008 11:40 PM
As far as "wasteful spending" we need look no further than Senator Ted Stevens, a Republican (recently indicted).
Look, both parties are full of fiscal idiots.Posted by: Doug at July 30, 2008 11:43 PM
Ziggy: Other than a very few of their number, politicians have no marketable skills and would be best suited as used-car salesmen, employed only until their stocks of friends and acquaintances as possible "leads" are exhausted.
Right on, Ziggy. This is non-partisan, but look at the average politician and you'll see somebody who has done little truly useful work in their life versus running their big mouth and taking public money for their pay and much else....Posted by: Doug at July 30, 2008 11:45 PM
Posted by: Doug at July 30, 2008 11:49 PM
BEST part of the moviePosted by: prettyinpink at July 30, 2008 11:59 PM
It gripes the hell out of the democraps that a Senator has an identifiable skill of value to society.
I think it bugs them when anybody has an identifiable skill of value to society. You don't need a Nanny State if you can take care of yourself and help your neighbors.Posted by: Christina at July 31, 2008 6:30 AM
The liberal, not wanting to be outdone, points the man to the nearest welfare office and then hands him fifty dollars from the conservative's pocket.
You nailed it, Jasper!Posted by: Christina at July 31, 2008 6:32 AM
Wait, I thought that our health care system was so awful that we needed doctors to take less money! I thought that free health care was what we were all pushing for!
This is just a disgusting ploy here. Harassing Dr. Coburn for this just proves that it's more government power they're after. I mean, there are actual problems they can go after that are actually their responsibility, and they're trying to stop a man from practicing medicine for free?Posted by: Christine the Soccer Mom at July 31, 2008 6:47 AM
Mothers Tell Harry Reid to Read Up On FDA Antidepressant
by Amy Philo, firstname.lastname@example.org, 214-705-0169, 817-793-8028
The Food and Drug Administration has issued 25 warnings concerning the use of antidepressants ranging from the increased risk of suicide to the danger of premature births, birth defects, and giving birth to babies with respiratory problems. Existing studies show a doubled rate of suicide, spontaneous abortion, and stillbirth, a five times higher rate of preterm birth, six times higher rate of persistent pulmonary hypertension (PPHN), and similar increases in heart defects and other life-threatening complications. Based on MedWatch data, over the past four years an estimated 2,900 babies died via spontaneous abortion caused by SSRI exposure during pregnancy, 4,360 were born with birth defects, 3,000 were born prematurely, and 4,160 developed heart disease. MedWatch reports also include sudden infant death as a consequence of antidepressant exposure via breast milk alone.
On July 28, the U.S. Senate convened for a showdown on the so-called "Coburn Omnibus," considering Majority Leader Harry Reid's motion to invoke cloture on the 398-page bill. The vote would set a precedent demonstrating the relative importance of the Constitution over special interest groups' priorities. Senator
Reid (D-NV) urged Republicans to vote against deliberating on the package, which contains 35 bills and at least $10 billion in potential taxpayer expenditures.
Reid had sought to hotline the majority of the bills in the package and therefore pass them with no debate or formal vote, which Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) objected to. As reported by the New York Times, Reid stated, "Not a single one of the 35 bills in this package are partisan or controversial," He went on to remark that anyone voting "no" would have to explain to his or her constituents. "These bills have been passed by the House of Representatives and their respective Senate committees with overwhelming support from Democrats and Republicans."
Section D of the omnibus bill is The Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS Act, which has never even been discussed in a Senate committee, much less approved by the majority of Senator Kennedy's HELP committee, where it has stalled since February.
There has been ongoing public outcry regarding new efforts by drug makers to expand their market for antidepressants and other top-selling psychotropic medications by pushing to enact laws requiring screening for mental illness on all sectors of the population from newborns to school children, on up to the military and elderly. But this outrage has been especially vigorous with regard to the hotly contested Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS Act, which would increase the number of pregnant and new mothers taking these drugs.
Critics of the bill fear what repercussions there would be for everyday Americans if the bill were ever to pass, and many expressed vehement objections to Reid's statement that not one of the bills was controversial. Perhaps Senator Reid can explain to the American people why he supported a bill that would increase cases of spontaneous abortions and fatal birth defects while causing more mothers to kill themselves or their children.
Neglecting to mention The MOTHERS Act during his speeches Monday, Reid emphasized the need to pass some of the most sympathetic-sounding bills in the package, such as paralysis and pornography legislation. Yet in a comment given to the Washington Post, Reid accused the Senators who had shot down the cloture motion of voting against mothers suffering from postpartum depression. Reid's seemingly intentional failure to bring up The MOTHERS Act during the debate and his false statements that the bills in the package are all non-controversial and that they have all passed the appropriate Senate committees should arouse much suspicion.
On the floor, MOTHERS Act cosponsor Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) alluded to the bill but incorrectly described its background, stating that Melanie Stokes had killed herself just a few days after giving birth. Durbin also said, "This bill really tries to help women with postpartum depression." In fact, Melanie Stokes took her life 3 1/2 months after her daughter Sommer was born, but only after she was given four successive cocktails of antidepressant, anti-anxiety, and antipsychotic drugs as well as electroshock.
Melanie Stokes is not alone. The FDA issued the first-ever black box warning for suicide on antidepressant drugs in September, 2004. The warning stated that antidepressants double the risk of suicide according to clinical trial data. Since 2002 there has been a 6,300% increase on antidepressant warnings from drug agencies around the globe. Mathy Milling Downing, whose 12-year-old daughter Candace hanged herself from the valance of her bed in 2004 after being placed on Zoloft for test anxiety, told the FDA at their hearing immediately preceding the
issuance of the suicide warning, "The blood of our children is on your hands."
Downing objected to Reid's recent tactics, stating, "It's deplorable that Congress continues to support the drug companies over constituents. In no way should Congress be involved in medical decisions. That should be between the doctor and the patient."
Numerous media stories have surfaced about objections to The MOTHERS Act and controversy surrounding it. The bill's lead sponsor Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), who accepted more than $300,000 from pharmaceutical donors during the last election cycle, even went so far as to tell a reporter from the New Jersey Record that he considers the opposition "wrong-minded."
At least for now, the "Coburn Omnibus" seems less of a threat, since Dr. Coburn's hold could not be overcome by Senate Democrats. They fell eight votes short of the required 60 to break the filibuster. But victims and survivors are left wondering if Senators Reid, Durbin, and Menendez intentionally disregard
matters of life and death for everyday Americans who are vulnerable and uninformed about the FDA-documented risks of antidepressants, or whether these Congressmen are simply ignorant and out of touch.
Julie Edgington's son Manie turned blue at birth and had to be transported by helicopter to a hospital with facilities equipped to give him life-sustaining treatments. One procedure involved ripping a hole in his heart with a catheter and balloon inserted through an artery in his leg. Manie almost had to have his leg amputated, but on day eight doctors detected a pulse in his foot just before starting a twelve-hour open heart surgery to correct a condition called Transposition of the Great Arteries, in which the aorta and pulmonary arteries in the heart are switched. Manie scraped through with his life, his leg, and lasting
physical and emotional scars.
According to FDA MedWatch data from the past four years, Paxil use during pregnancy was reported as the primary suspect cause of approximately two thirds of all drug-precipitated cases of Transposition of the Great Arteries. It wasn't until Manie was about two years old that Julie finally discovered the Paxil-TGA link. She now has a lawsuit against drug maker GlaxoSmithKline.
Edgington said, "I want Senator Reid to think about how he would feel if he were in my place or Manie's place. Manie will have to suffer for the rest of his life. I think if you were to ask Manie how he felt about this legislation, if he were old enough, he would consider this far worse than simply controversial." Julie doesn't understand why Congress would want to do anything to the people that could result in more birth defects and death. "The guilt and the heartache I feel is unbelievable. Sitting there looking at your baby and wondering if he is going to live or die, I don't think a person can feel any worse. The way I felt when I was popping Paxil while I was pregnant was nothing compared to this. Nobody should ever take these pills, not even as a last resort."
Kim Witczak, founder of WoodyMatters.com found Reid's attempt to slip the MOTHERS Act through without hearings, discussion, or debate "insulting." Kim has made more than 30 trips to Washington, D.C. in an effort to educate Congress and reform policy on drug safety. Her late husband Woody hanged himself after taking Zoloft for insomnia for a total of five weeks.
Witczak said she wonders why the same Congress that appeared concerned about drug safety during last year's hearings on the PDUFA legislation would attempt to pass a bill like The MOTHERS act without any consideration for the effects it could have on the public. "This bill would really set new mothers up for depression by convincing them it's likely to happen. As a woman, if someone offered me this sort of screening, I would say "No way," and "No thank you." I feel very strongly that with the potential effect of death, this sort of legislation deserves serious investigation."
Kim Crespi, whose husband David killed their twin daughters in 2006 after taking Prozac for seven days, called the actions of the cosponsors who tried to bypass normal procedure irresponsible. Kim said she feels Prozac caused David's psychotic break, and she doesn't think that our current mental health system takes the adverse effects of the available medications into account at all. "Without acknowledging these effects, we are treating people beyond their levelof control and then holding them completely responsible when all hell breaks loose. Congress needs to carefully pursue and consider the truth before even thinking of passing The MOTHERS Act."
Caroline Gammell, who had suicidal thoughts after three days on Celexa, contacted various government agencies and officials including members and committees in Congress after her drug reaction in 1999, but has never received any response. She said she is worried about anything that could enable someone to pump her full of drugs that could be deadly, adding that since she hasn't yet had children, she considers the proposed legislation especially scary.
Drug-sponsored groups have worked hard for the past several sessions of Congress trying to pass The Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS Act via deceptive P.R. and pharmaceutical contributions to members of Congress, and are likely to continue their efforts indefinitely. With the demonstrated lack of concern from so many doctors over the recent revelation that antidepressant effectiveness is no greater than that of a placebo, patients are left all too often ignorant and accepting of medical advice to use these drugs. When politics and profits take precedence over human life, and drugs that can kill are pushed on patients like candy, it becomes the responsibility of the public to protect themselves.
Viva La Evolucion ;)
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