The Edmond Sun

November 1, 2012

5th District candidates clash on fed's role in economy

James Coburn
The Edmond Sun

EDMOND — Oklahoma’s Congressional 5th District candidates were asked how to improve the national economy at a recent forum hosted by the Edmond Area Chamber of Commerce.

Ballots will be cast Tuesday to decide who will represent the 5th District. Democrat Tom Guild  along with two Independent candidates, Pat Martin of Jones and Norman resident Robert T. Murphy, are vying to unseat Republican James Lankford.

“To be clear, jobs come from the private sector, not from the federal government,” said Lankford, R-Edmond. “And if we focus on federal policies, say to provide more federal jobs for federal money to supplement this program to create more jobs to stabilize us, we’ll get the same result we’ve had in the last four years.”

Guild said that government created Lankford’s job and creates the infrastructure to make business easier to conduct.

Americans received 43 months of unemployment above 8 percent as a result of the federal government’s attempts to remedy the economy, Lankford said.

The unemployment rate decreased to 7.8 percent in September, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Marketwatch.com reports that the October report set for release Friday will show the U.S. added 120,000 jobs last month. The unemployment rate also increased to 7.9 percent, according to the MarketWatch survey of economists.

Guild pointed out that an unpopular Congress has failed to pass a budget and that a partisan House and Senate share responsibility for the stalemate.

“If you combine the last 11 presidents you can find 43 months of unemployment above 8 percent,” Lankford said.

People are not going to spend their money or take capital risks to hire people when they are uncertain of the future health care laws and environmental regulations that impact the economy, Lankford said.

“We’re back to the problem where the federal government is actually the problem in this rather than a helper in this,” he said. “You have to have a consistent tax policy. Expiring tax policies without any reform raises instability. You can’t plan your business four years out. We don’t know what the tax rates will be four years out.”

International taxes are lower than in the U.S, providing incentive for business to invest overseas, he said.

“I think the most creative thing we can do to create jobs is to fully support public education,” Guild said.

Poor children and their families depend on public education, Guild said. Many families of middle class Americans cannot afford to send their children to private schools, he said.

“They need the public schools. That’s the most democratic institution we have in our country,” Guild said. “When we have a well educated population, then we have good employees for you.”

Guild said he favors increasing federal funding for Pell grants to assist young people through college. Loan rates to college students should be minimized to help them from entering the workforce with enormous debt, Guild said.

“Also the president has put forth the American Jobs Act. That would create jobs and infrastructure. We’d rehire teachers, policemen and firefighters.”

As a Libertarian, Murphy said he believes freedom is the genius of American civilization.

People either deal with each other voluntarily or they use force, Murphy said. Law should only be used against initiated force, he said. Laws build up until the federal government virtually has complete control of the economy, Murphy said.

“People have a hard time realizing is that government is nothing but raw force. Government is not persuasion,” Murphy said. “It is not talking to you in a friendly manner.”

Martin said he is expected to budget his finances to prevent spending more money than he takes in. A budget, however, does not mean making sweeping financial cuts in every aspect of his life.

“I prioritize. I might quit going out to restaurants five nights a week before I stop buying food altogether,” Martin said. “I’ll cut my satellite TV before I get my power turned off. But ultimately this is not how our government is conducting itself.”

Eliminating government waste, mismanagement and redundancy is a higher priority than cutting nutrition programs for poor women and infants, public broadcasting and closing poison control centers, Martin said.