Coats says bye, with a warning

KPC News Service

In a city of big egos and loud voices, U.S. Sen. Dan Coats provided a welcome dose of humility and quiet wisdom in Washington.

The Republican senator “doesn’t always feel the need to speak up, but when he does, people pay attention,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a tribute to Coats.

Coats, from Fort Wayne, represented Indiana for 16 years in the Senate. Between his Senate terms, he served as ambassador to Germany.

Coats gave his farewell address in the Senate recently, noting that it was his second goodbye speech — he thought he was leaving for good in 1998, before returning in 2011.

‘“I’ve felt nothing but gratitude for the incredible privilege of serving,” Coats said, calling his career “the adventure of a lifetime.”

Coats said the United States is “a divided country with two very different visions for America’s future.”

Coats spoke with respect for his colleagues from both parties. “We are all united in the common cause of making our country a better place, a safer place and a more prosperous place,” he said, “even if our means of getting there differ.”

Coats then issued a final warning about “two transcendent issues that I believe jeopardize America’s continued existence as the world’s leading nation.”

He consistently has worried about a national debt that has grown to $19.5 trillion, and he believes programs such as Social Security and Medicare are “creeping ever closer to insolvency.”

He added, “America’s looming fiscal storm is bearing down upon us … One day, if not addressed, this ‘debt bomb’ will explode and have a devastating effect on our country’s economy and our children’s future.”

Coats then turned his concern to actual bombs — terrorists’ bombs.

“We must ensure that the world’s most dangerous weapons stay out of the hands of its most dangerous people,” he said.

America also must guard against cyber attacks that could shut down financial systems or electric grids, he added.

Coats called on his fellow senators to rise above political consequences and make hard decisions to protect the nation.

Coats ending by recalling President Ronald Reagan’s reference to life in America as a “precious gift.”

“This gift has been earned and preserved by those who have fought in defense of our freedoms and especially those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice,” Coats said. He said senators have “an obligation and solemn duty” to preserve that gift for future generations.

Coats’ service reflects well on Indiana, setting an example for Indiana’s new Sen. Todd Young and all those who follow.

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