Following the passage of the 9/11 Zadroga Health Bill to provide medical care for first responders, Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK), a big critic of the original bill, was pleased that its cost was reduced from $7.4 to $4.3 billion.
Regarding the Bush tax cuts, Coburn was not as careful about expenses, stating, "I often hear from my colleagues on the other side we need to pay for the so-called Bush tax cuts. ...anyone who thinks we oughta pay for tax cuts, oughta have to put up a list of programs that we oughta eliminate to pay for them." So-called? Coburn sounds like Senators Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and David Vitter (R-LA), who questioned whether we have to pay for tax cuts. (Amazing how these "deficit hawks" are ready to go $700 billion more in debt to pay for tax cuts for the rich over 10 years.) Media Matters refuted Coburn's logic:
Coburn is badly missing the point. Most Democrats don't want to extend tax cuts for the rich precisely because they don't want to cut vital programs to pay for it. There's no inconsistency there. Rather, the burden of offsetting the cost of tax cuts should fall on those who support them.
Examine, then, Coburn's–and the Republicans'–priorities. When it comes to caring for the heroes who rushed to ground zero, Coburn (who also fought extending unemployment benefits) and the GOP were ready to block the bill because they saw it as too expensive. But when it comes to tax cuts for the wealthy, a Republican goal, Coburn's argument to the Democrats is "If you think it has to be paid for, you figure out how to pay for it."