Official Portrait

Former U.S. Senator, Tom Coburn, who also served in the House of Representatives from 1995 to 2001, believes so strongly in term limits he imposed a limit on himself.

The 67-year-old Republican from Oklahoma upheld his campaign pledge to serve no more than three consecutive terms in the House, and publicly announced that he would not pursue a third term in the U.S. Senate in 2016. “I term-limited myself,” Coburn said. “My goal never was to rise in the power structure, it was to recognize problems and fix them. If you self-impose term limits — or impose term limits — you minimize the natural human tendency to benefit yourself at the expense of everybody else.”   He added, “If your goal is to get re-elected, you’re going to do things that help you get re-elected . . . If, on the other hand, your goal is to represent your constituency, you have the freedom to do what our founders wanted you to do.”

Though the media reported Coburn stepped down from the Senate in January owing to medical reasons, the former Congressman took the opportunity to set the record straight on The Costa Report. “The reason I left the Senate early,” he explained, “is because I’m convinced that we cannot fix Washington in Washington. We have to fix Washington the way our founders told us to fix it.”

A practicing physician who has treated more than 15,000 patients and delivered 4,000 babies in private practice, Coburn compares the behavior of elected officials to drug addiction. “Power is like morphine: It dulls the senses and leads politicians to make choices that damage their own character in the machinery of democracy,” he observed.

Coburn was quick to remind the public that the addiction to power is bipartisan: He calls the craving “Potomac Fever.” Referring to former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (who has also announced his retirement) Coburn said, “The former leader of our Senate just admitted that everything he said about Mitt Romney was a lie, and he didn’t apologize for it. What does that tell you about career politicians? It’s not because he’s a Democrat. It’s because he played the partisan game to the ultimate. What mattered to him was power.”

As a physician, Coburn claims he has been trained to identify and “solve the disease.” According to Coburn, “Eighty percent of the character actors in Washington are treating the symptoms, much to the demise of our future, and certainly to the demise of the financial future of our children.”  He worries that Congress is focused almost exclusively on catering to the individuals, organizations, and corporations who fill their electoral war chests, and, as a result, fail to take the measures necessary to address the nation’s most pressing problems – including the current $18 trillion debt. Coburn predicts the U.S. will likely turn to hyperinflation to reduce the size of the debt and warns that this would have dangerous ramifications including losing the dollar’s status as the reserve currency of the world.

To hear the full interview with Senator Tom Coburn visit