Oklahoma's junior Senator Tom Coburn and Illinois' junior Senator Barack Obama are unlikely to have many shared causes. Politically, the two are at polar opposites and their districts couldn't be more different.

But they have teamed up to introduce legislation aimed at ensuring financial integrity in the Hurricane Katrina relief and recovery effort. The federal government will spend an estimated $62 billion on Katrina and Sens. Coburn and Obama want to make sure the money goes to relief and recovery and not to line the pockets of those who would profit from the disaster.

Their proposal comes just after the Associated Press reports that the government's loan program following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, contained some rather unlikely recipients. A few Oklahoma companies were aided by such loans.

The Coburn-Obama bill establishes a chief financial officer to oversee all Katrina expenditures before they are made. That's different than an appointed auditor who comes in after the money is spent and decides if it was proper. The "Katrina czar" would be appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate.

"This bill is vital because it will allow Congress and the president to conduct effective oversight upfront. We need to know these dollars will be well-spent before the fact, not after the fact," Dr. Coburn said in a press release.

Under the bill, the CFO position would terminate one year after the enactment of the bill but could be extended for an additional year by the President.

We think this kind of pro-active management of our tax dollars makes good common sense. Americans certainly don't mind making sacrifices to help out disaster victims but we sure get frustrated when the funds get diverted along the way.

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