James Lankford seeks reelection to Congress – his key issues are still “budget and debt”
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Published: 14-Apr-2012

U.S. Rep. James Lankford of Oklahoma City, a conservative Republican, is seeking reelection to the Fifth Congressional District seat he now holds. In an interview with CapitolBeatOK, he explained why he wants another term – and addressed a broad range of fiscal policy challenges facing the nation.

Lankford said, “I don’t think anyone can look at the House of Representatives right now in the United States Congress right now and say, ‘Gosh, the job is done, there’s nothing left to do.’ 

"It is still a tremendous mess. 

“We’re trying to work through the process of cleaning up some very distorted systems and an inoperable process between the House and the Senate. There is still a great amount of work to be done to try to move that forward. I’m a subcommittee chairman ...; we’re trying to make progress on the Oversight and Government Reform side of things.”

He continued, saying he and colleagues are “trying to repair systems and structures, and trying to focus on the singular, largest issue of our day. That’s our debt and our budget.:If we can not resolve our budget and our debt, nothing else is going to matter, long term, for us.”

Asked if those issues sublimate every other policy challenge right now, he responded: 

“Budget and the debt will definitely be the key features not just for this year, not just for the next, but it’s going to be a 10-year battle to fight back our debt. We have $15.6 trillion in debt right now – and just this one year it’s $1.3 trillion.

“We have got to be able to work with the House and the Senate, and the president, together to be able to find a solution, to say we can all agree on this, this is a plan to be able to move forward. 

"Because if we don’t ever get a plan, it doesn’t matter how big the debt is, or how fast it’s growing – if there’s no plan, it’s just an auto-pilot acceleration from here on out. We cannot do that as a nation. Obviously, that kind of debt and deficits that exist are not sustainable. So, we’re gotta fix that.”

As for the federal budget, Lankford discussed the Ryan Plan (named for U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin – a proposal vigorously opposed by Lankford's Democratic opponent in this November's election. Lankford said: 

“I’m on that Budget Committee. I was one of the authors of that plan. … It’s a good process, if anyone looks at it. It has general headings and general ideas, and lays the specifics out underneath to say ‘here’s how we fix things.’ It deals with issues like our taxes.

“It takes us from a six-tier tax plan to … going back to a 10 percent and 25 percent tax tier. That’s much simpler, much flatter and fairer of a system. It changes our business taxes to 25 percent, so that economically we are able to compete across the world. We have the highest tax rate in the world right now with our business taxes. We can’t compete worldwide with that kind of rate. 

“We have to figure out how to do this so that we’re not encouraging our businesses to go overseas with it. So, we’ve got plans not only on the social safety net, not only on our tax rate, but also in real specific ways to be able to get our debt back down and get us back to balance."

As in past interviews, Rep. Lankford expressed frustration over the lack of a budget plan from the U.S. Senate, which is controlled by Democrats. It has been about three years since the upper chamber of Congress submitted a budget proposal. 

Lankford reflected, “The Senate has already said they’re not going to do a budget. They are taking last year’s debt reduction deal and that’s a top line number, so we’re going to work from that number with no specifics.

“The problem is, there are two areas. A budget accomplishes not only your number, but also it accomplishes what is the plan. 

"Where do we go 10 years from now? How do we get this down? With the Senate saying we have a number and that’s all we need, they’re ignoring the fact that we have $15.6 trillion in debt and no plan to get out of it. 

“So, that budget is very important in developing a plan. We hoped the Senate would do it. They’ve already said they’re not going to do it.” The chairman of the Senate Budget Committee has “said they don’t plan to do it again. We’re hoping, obviously, that Americans will turn the Senate over so that we can actually get a budget plan from the Senate, and then have some reconciliation between the House and the Senate.”

Challenging the incumbent in November will be Tom Guild, a Democrat, and two independents: Pat Martin of Jones and Robert T. Murphy of Norman. 

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