Lankford Talks to Voters
Oklahoma US Representative James Lankford is speaking tonight at his third and final town hall meeting while back in Oklahoma for the Congressional August recess.
Tuesday night he got a chance to talk to fifth district constituents in Northwest Oklahoma City at Francis Tuttle’s Portland Campus.
Two years ago record crowds showed up at Francis Tuttle Technology Center to hear then Congresswoman Mary Fallin speak at a town hall.
Back then US lawmakers had recently passed the controversial health care bill and Fallin was running for Governor.
On Tuesday, it was her successor’s turn.
Congressman James Lankford talked with 225 at his town hall meeting, but not all of them approve of his voting record.
The outburst of “Why’d you vote for it” came during the Q and A session.
Ken Hartin asked about the Congressman’s vote to raise the debt ceiling.
“I wasn’t disappointed. I was mad,” says Hartin.
And, that’s from a man who voted for Lankford last November.
Hartin says the support of the debt ceiling was just more of the same from Washington.
“He campaigned on he’s not going to add any more debt or any more problems to our children and grandchildren and the first major piece of legislation to come down the pike he voted for it.”
The crowd had no shortage of people who supported Congressman Lankford.
Charlie Potts was also disappointed in the debt ceiling decision, but says he understands the reasoning behind the vote.
“I think given that there are 536 people involved in this process, we got the best thing we could hope for now. We can’t just cut off everything in one year.”
Opponents argue removing tax breaks for the wealthy would go a long way to solving the deficit problem.
But, Lankford says he can’t support a tax increase in light of a U-S government which needs to be cut.
“It is difficult for me to go back to people and say I’d like for you to spend more money on a very inefficient federal government. I’d like to rather say we’ve got a lot of things to be able to solve where we’re duplicating federal programs that we need to start dealing with our house first.”
Speaking of opponents, members of the progressive groups Change Oklahoma and MoveOn.org sat on the second row at the Town Hall, but didn’t get a chance to ask any questions.
Change Oklahoma Chair Susan McCann holds a sign which reads “Where are the jobs?” and says she was disappointed in all the talk of the debt and deficit.
“We never really spoke about what his plan was in terms of creating jobs and how many jobs he had been personally responsible for: jobs bills that perhaps he’d voted on, or if as he goes back in September if there’s something that he’s going to introduce that’s going to help produce jobs.”
And, MoveOn.Org’s Jeanine Ridener says all she hears is Lankford defending the Bush-Era tax cuts.
“If you’re going to use the rationale that job growth comes from giving wealthy people tax breaks than you need to be able to back up that rationale with evidence based truth.”
Lankford agrees that the lack of jobs is a serious issue in the United States, but it’s not because of tax breaks.
He says the problem is too many restrictions on businesses.
“We try to over regulate every single issue and the more we over regulate we can stand up and say well this protects workers or this protects this or this protects that or migratory birds or whatever it is but every time we do that we also need to understand we’re turning down the number of jobs in our government”
Lankford also managed questions from the crowd dealing with everything from the Clean Air Act to English Only legislation to Warren Buffett.
Tonight’s meeting is at the Citizen Potawatomi Nation Cultural Heritage Center in Shawnee from 6:00 to 7:30.