The 'Coburn Omnibus'

Coburn Omnibus

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) has angered Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) so much that Reid is planning to force through a vote on a so-called “Coburn Omnibus” bill before the August Recess.

The “Coburn Omnibus” is a package of about 100 bills. Coburn is blocking passage of them because of the million-dollar price tag and the fact that many of them would use taxpayer funds to buy up private lands and enrich developers. Much like the late conservative hero “Senator No” (Jesse Helms), Coburn seems to be the only conservative willing to block legislation that would exacerbate the $9.3 trillion dollar debt this Congress is passing on to future generations.

In the past two years, the Senate has attempted to pass by unanimous consent legislation that would authorize hundreds of new government programs and authorize million of dollars in new spending. Most legislation the Senate passes is done by unanimous consent, meaning that one senator can stand up and say “I object” to stop passage. Coburn has been that senator — and conservatives should rally behind him.

Attorney-Client Privilege

The attorney-client privilege is one of the most fundamental protections enabling innocent Americans to defend themselves against unjust criminal punishment, but federal law enforcement has nearly eviscerated it. The Justice Department, most notably, has engaged in very aggressive tactics for investigating and prosecuting alleged corporate crime, to the point of effectively forcing companies to waive the attorney-client privilege.

Groups ranging from the American Civil Liberties Union to The Heritage Foundation have been working to restore the idea that the attorney-client privilege is an important tradition in American jurisprudence — one necessary to insure that all investigations and trials are fair. Legislation pending before Congress — the Attorney-Client Privilege Protection Act — would preserve this important tradition. This legislation passed the House unanimously and is sponsored in the Senate by Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) with the support of the 2004 Democrat nominee for president, Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and conservative Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas). Conservatives who believe in limited government should applaud the bipartisan efforts to restrict the almost unlimited powers of the feds in investigating businesses and employees.

Drilling for Carbon Reductions

As gasoline settles above $4.10 a gallon, the American people are increasingly supportive of domestic energy exploration. According to a recent Pew Research Center survey, support for American energy exploration is at the highest point this decade. Despite the desire for less expensive energy, the president and members of Congress are advocating schizophrenic policies that would, on the one hand, lower the price of gas in the name of reducing America’s dependence on foreign oil, and — on the other — raise the price of gas in the name of reducing greenhouse gasses and slowing global warming.

Last month President Bush unveiled a four-part agenda that would tap America’s valuable energy resources. He would expand domestic drilling, expand the use of oil shale to produce more than a trillion new barrels of oil and allow for the building of new oil refineries. This plan would lower energy prices and reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil coming from volatile regions. In April, however, Bush outlined the parameters of a plan to cut America’s greenhouse-gas emissions — a plan that would push energy prices higher and increase government regulation.

John McCain has traveled a similar road. He has long supported capping greenhouse gases. Just recently, though, he reversed his long standing opposition to tapping the oil and natural gas that lies deep in the waters off America’s coasts.

Liberals are also promoting contradictory legislation to lower the price of gas.  Last month Senate Democrats voted overwhelmingly to cap greenhouse gas emissions and Democrats in the House have expressed support for an even more punitive legislative scheme.  Implementing any of these cap and trade programs would result in higher energy prices for the consumer.  These liberals are the same ones clamoring over the “devastating” impact of high energy prices on the average American family.  Over the past month, more liberals have been paying lip service to lowering the price of oil, though their solutions are merely gimmicks that range from tampering with the strategic reserve or punishing oil companies.

Too many politicians want to have it both ways – you cannot lower the price of energy and stop global warming – and ordinary Americans wind up losing out.