"Apocalyptic pain" from an out-of-control debt could cause 18 percent unemployment and a massive contraction in the economy that would destroy the middle class, a leading Republican deficit hawk said in an interview that aired Sunday.
Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., who recently issued a report on government waste, warned that the U.S. only has about three or four years to get its fiscal house in order or it could find itself facing austerity measures seen in Greece, Ireland, Spain, Portugal and earlier in Japan.
The senator, who was recently elected to a second -- and he pledges -- final term in Congress, said he's not trying to scare anyone, but eliminating waste in the federal government's ledgers is imperative not just to prevent default but a massive implosion that he defined in catastrophic terms.
"I think you'll see a 15 to 18 percent unemployment rate. I think you will see an 8 to 9 percent decline in GDP. I think you'll see the middle class just destroyed if we don't do this. And the people that it will harm the most will be the poorest of the poor, because we'll print money to try to debase our currency and get out of it and what you will see is hyperinflation," Coburn said.
"If we didn't take some pain now, we're going to experience apocalyptic pain, and it's going to be out of our control. The idea should be that we control it," he said.
Coburn said he can come up with $350 billion off the top of his head in inefficiency and waste that could be eliminated without impacting anyone in a practical sense. He noted $50 billion in programs that are duplicative and $100 billion in Medicare and Medicaid fraud that was not addressed in the health care law.
"We have 267 job training programs across 39 different agencies. Why do we have 267 of them? We have 105 programs to encourage people to go into science and technology, engineering and math. That's 105 sets of bureaucrats. None of them have metrics on it," he said.
"The Pentagon can't even audit its own books. It doesn't even know where its money is going. And we refuse to have the tough forces go on the Pentagon so that at least they are efficient with the money they're spending," Coburn added. [...]
Government has no respect for the money it spends, because it doesn't earn it. That's why they waste so much, and why it's important to limit their power to spend. It's pathetic that it's gotten this bad already.