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Tom Coburn Won’t Let Us Help Haitians

October 2nd, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

Prepare to experience a fierce bout of righteous indignation. Keith Olbermann brought this to my attention on Thursday’s show, and I knew I had to pass it along to anyone who might not have heard about it.

Remember the earthquake in Haiti last year that killed hundreds of thousands of people and left millions homeless? Remember how proud we were when our government generously pledged $1.2 billion in emergency aid to help the victims? Remember when that money got to Haiti and those people finally got some relief?

You probably don’t remember that last part because it never happened. That’s right—while we did pledge the money it never actually got to Haiti because the authorization bill that directs how the money would be spent has been held up by a single Republican senator.

After calling dozens of senators’ offices, the AP discovered that the senator holding up the bill is Tom Coburn (R-OK). Coburn spokeswoman Becky Berhardt explained that the reason he is holding up the bill is because he objects to the creation of a senior Haiti coordinator — a position that would cost a paltry $5 million over five years — when the United States currently has an ambassador to the country.

According to the article from which this quote is taken, less than 10% of the planned shelters have been built and more than 1.3 million Haitians are still homeless.

They could really use that money, the money we already agreed to give them, but apparently Tom Coburn has decided that those people should continue to suffer needlessly because of a little wasteful spending. Think of all the billions of dollars that have been wasted in Iraq and Afghanistan (remember the $12 billion that just vanished into thin air?) and consider letting millions of people suffer for the sake of a mere $5 million.

I bet Tom Coburn has at least a few dozen personal friends who could write a $5 million check to the government to make up for that cost without batting an eyelash.

Instead, he’s telling these people that his personal conservative principles are more important than getting a roof over their heads.

haitians-left-homeless_3column00_nospace_landscape

He’s telling Haitians that because he objects to a tiny little bit of wasteful spending, they have to keep living like this:

haiti-earthquake-homeless

Most importantly, he’s doing this on behalf of all Americans. Just one elected leader from one little state (a state with less than half the population of New York City) can stop our entire country from doing something truly good in the world.

Maybe you agree with Coburn that saving $5 million out of a billion-dollar aid package is more important than getting the Haitians the help they need. Maybe you even agree with people like Pat Robertson that the Haitians deserved what they got and so we shouldn’t help them at all.

But if you disagree, you can write to Senator Coburn by following this link, or call his Washington office at 202-224-5754. Tell him thanks but no thanks on letting Haitians suffer just to save us $5 million. He may not be capable of experiencing shame, but the people who work for him might be.

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