Certainty. U.S. Rep. Frank Lucas, R-Okla., says that’s what the American people need.
The American people are looking for certainty from Congress, even as they deal with election-year uncertainty. The 3rd Congressional District representative visited the Enid News & Eagle Thursday for an exclusive interview. The interview covered a wide range of topics.
The national electorate is skeptical because of excessive partisanship and gridlock, Lucas said. Voters need to know which way the wind blows, he said.
Currently, Lucas said the U.S. House is conservative, the president is liberal and there is no leadership in the U.S. Senate, so no one is in charge.
“Harry Reid is not Lyndon Johnson or Bob Dole,” he said. “Was I polite enough?”
President Barack Obama is campaigning in the Corn Belt, which includes several swing states crucial to this year’s election. How does Oklahoma’s congressman feel about Obama stumping in the drought-stricken fields?
“I’m proud he found them,” Lucas said.
Lucas said if GOP challenger Mitt Romney becomes president, Mitch McConnell becomes Senate majority leader with a Republican takeover of that chamber and John Boehner stays as speaker of the House, there will be a serious restriction of the amount of money coming from the federal government.
“If the rest of the economy is convinced the federal government will step back, I think there will be more money for investment and the economy will grow at a faster clip,” Lucas said.
“I believe we can turn it around, we just need help from the voters,” Lucas said. “It’s up to the voters to send a signal. Nobody is in charge of the process, and the voters need to pick a side.”
Other topics covered in Thursday’s interview included:
• The farm bill. America must have a farm bill, Lucas said, and he is waiting for Congress to come back into session.
Getting the bill done has been difficult this year because of the differing sentiments on the House Agriculture Committee, which he chairs. One group does not believe in spending any money on anything, he said, and another group wants to define what farming is and take control away from farmers.
Lucas said he must work with both of those groups, but has formed a consensus bill, while cutting back on the amount of money contained in each of the farm bill programs. Only about 20 percent of the bill actually funds commodities, the rest goes to food stamps, conservation programs and other areas that have little to do with production of food, he said.
The Senate already has passed its version of the farm bill, and Lucas said the House will file a conference committee report in September. However, the old farm bill expires Sept. 30, and that will affect crop insurance. Current insurance still will be good for crops that already are in the ground.
His constituents, though, are talking about the farm bill and about drought relief for livestock producers, which has not been funded.
The House Agriculture Committee is the least polarized of all House committees, despite the differences of some of the members, Lucas said. He was able to reach a consensus through open debate and the legislative process.
One of the problems Lucas has as chairman of the ag committee is members of his own party who do not want to spend money on agriculture programs. He called the farm bill an investment in the nation’s ability to produce food and fiber. Based on the farm bill of 1933, which established many of the current farm subsidies, the nation has the ability to produce crops, he said.
“We are the food backup, not only for our country, but for most of the rest of the planet,” Lucas said. “We make investments in the country and the farm bill is a good one. Farmers and ranchers are the original environmentalists.”
• Tax cuts. Lucas expects tax cuts approved under President George W. Bush will be continued in some form, although maybe not permanently. Currently, the debate is such high profile neither side will yield anything.
• Health care. Regarding federal health care reform, Lucas said a GOP-majority Congress can retroactively change it if Obama is defeated in November and the Republicans take control of the Senate. He said certain popular provisions, such as requiring insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions and allowing people up to 25-years-old to continue on their parents’ insurance, may be retained.
• The election. Employment will play a large role in how the election goes, Lucas predicted. If national unemployment goes as high as 9 percent, he believes there will be a Republican sweep of the presidency, the House and the Senate. If unemployment stays around 8 percent, the election is a toss-up, he said, but if the unemployment rate drops below 8 percent it could help Obama.
“That’s my gut feel as a fella that has been up and down the road a little bit,” he said.
In states like Michigan, where the unemployment rate is 22 percent, Lucas said he expects voters to wonder when something will happen and they can get a job.
Lucas predicted no action on sequestration before the election. He said federal contract regulations require employers to send workers advance notice if they are planning layoffs. If those companies are going to lay off because their contracts are not honored, those notices will go out before the election.
On Thursday, Romney named Lucas to his “Farmers and Ranchers for Romney” team as supporters of his election.
Certainty. U.S. Rep. Frank Lucas, R-Okla., says that’s what the American people need.
- Local News
SLIDESHOW: Freezing temps keep many at home Friday
Edmond residents awoke to a winter wonderland and the realities of getting to their vehicles and driving on snow-packed streets. Even though the storm system began moving out of Oklahoma Friday, a state official cautioned residents to not disregard safety measures too soon.
During the coming days, the Edmond area will experience sub-freezing daytime temperatures and nighttime lows in the teens and single digits.
The Salvation Army to host Fill the Truck Toy Drive
Walmart and The Salvation Army are hosting a “Fill the Truck” toy drive in Oklahoma, Cleveland and Canadian counties. Walmart customers can drop off new, unwrapped toys in a box that will be located at the bell-ringing stand at the entrance of Walmart from 12–5 p.m. today.
Logan Co. investigation nets 7 arrests
Logan County officers made seven arrests in an investigation stemming from the reported theft of a $45,000 John Deere Skid Steer, police said.
Friday morning, after a week-long investigation, Logan County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Richard Stephens said earlier in the week the agency responded to a complaint from a victim of a larceny who had his John Deere Skid Steer stolen from Oklahoma City.
VIDEO: World reacts to death of Mandela
Nelson Mandela spent nearly a third of his life as a prisoner of apartheid before leading South Africa in a relatively peaceful transition of power that inspired the world. The iconic figure died Thursday at the age of 95.
Slick, hazardous streets cause more cancellations
Thursday's snow and sleet fall in Edmond and across the metro continues to impact schedules and events planned for this weekend.
South Africans mourn Nelson Mandela's death
South Africans flocked to the Johannesburg home of Nelson Mandela to mourn his death and pay tribute to a leader who led the nation out of racial discord by encouraging reconciliation.
Snow chances, bitter cold continue for Edmond
Snow chances and bitter cold temperatures continue for Edmond on the heels of the storm that created slick and hazardous streets.
The National Weather Service forecast called for a 40 percent chance of snow tonight and a 20 percent chance Sunday.
In addition to the slick and hazardous streets and highways, residents dealt with bitter cold temperatures. Highs were expected near 22 degrees on Friday, 20 on Saturday, 26 on Sunday and 22 on Monday. Lows were expected near 5 degrees Friday, 17 Saturday, 15 Sunday and 8 Monday.
Thursday evening, slick, snow-covered streets created havoc in Edmond as commuters and other motorists traveled to their destinations. Edmond Police Department spokeswoman Jenny Monroe said police officers were responding only to injury crashes.
Planners look at retail/urban housing mixes in downtown
A presentation by Freese Nichols consultants of Fort Worth was made Wednesday to city staff and leaders regarding the Downtown Master Plan.
The Central Edmond Urban Development Board has revisited plans made in a 1998 Downtown Master Plan through public meetings and presentations to protect the future development of Broadway.
“Right now we are at the point of providing an assessment of not only the physical environment, but also the market conditions,” said Wendy Shabay, an associate urban planner with Freese Nichols. The next meeting in January will focus on recommendations.
Volunteers keep HOPE Center afloat
HOPE Center of Edmond is the community’s compassionate response to families needing a helping hand. Giving of one’s time is valuable when it comes to helping the HOPE Center of Edmond fulfill its charitable mission.
The food and clothing closet for Edmond area residents offers a health clinic and limited emergency financial assistance for rent and utilities, said Chris Sperry, executive director. The HOPE Health Clinic focuses on pre-natal and obstetrics care for women.
The annual Edmond Sun Samaritan Fund Drive has set a goal of raising $165,000 for HOPE.
Nearly 14,000 hours were donated by HOPE volunteers in 2012, Sperry said. Their hard work has a lasting impact on the community, she said. Many HOPE volunteers were themselves clients at one time needing temporary assistance.
St. Anthony announces new outpatient behavioral health facility in Edmond
St. Anthony is pleased to announce the opening of the new Outpatient Behavioral Health Edmond facility which will offer partial hospitalization programs as well as Intensive outpatient programs for both adult and senior patients.
These programs are designed to help those dealing with grief, trauma, depression, anxiety, anger control problems, panic attacks, poor overall functioning and other mental health issues.
- More Local News Headlines
- SLIDESHOW: Freezing temps keep many at home Friday