Democrat 5th Congressional District candidate Tom Guild of Edmond said Wednesday neither the Congressional Republicans or the Democrats are willing to cooperate to even make a small start to improve the economy.
Guild will face off in the Nov. 6 election with incumbent Congressman James Lankford, R-Edmond, as well as two Independent candidates, Pat Martin of Jones and Robert T. Murphy of Norman.
Lankford is an ideological candidate who lacks flexibility in negotiations, Guild said. Congress talks about unsustainable deficits but lacks interpersonal communications skills, Guild said.
He said the House has wasted time voting on redundant issues that are already the law of the land, one being in support of “In God We Trust” as the national motto. Guild said he favors the motto.
“I don’t think they need to vote on that three or four more times,” he said. “The only reason they conceivably did that was for political advantage. …That was already the law well before they spent some of their precious time in session,” Guild said.
Fewer people are going to need government services as the economy continues to grow and creates jobs at a steady pace, Guild said.
“That takes the pressure off the budget deficit because people are working and paying taxes,” Guild said.
Lankford has failed to write legislation to create jobs, but instead voted against job-creating bills submitted by Democrats, Guild said. Lankford instead decided to be partisan by voting in favor of the sequestration option, Guild said. Sequestration will occur on Jan. 1 if the Senate and House fail to stop it, Guild said.
“That would be somewhere in the neighborhood of $500 billion in domestic cuts and about $500 billion in defense cuts,” Guild said. “Nobody is really happy with that, but it was created by this Congress.”
Federal spending was prominent among the concerns of Oklahomans who questioned Lankford at a community forum this week. Lankford spoke at the University of Central Oklahoma.
Audience member Dennis Caplinger said he is concerned with the cost of the U.S. budget. Caplinger said he fears that the $16 trillion U.S. debt has become too burdensome for the economy.
Caplinger said he was optimistic when Republicans came into control of the House with John Boehner as speaker.
“I felt real good about John Boehner when he took over as the Speaker. I thought maybe we are going to see a trend and expect some change. From where I’m sitting it really hasn’t changed. It seems like he’s not doing much.”
Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia and Republican vice presidential contender and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin went into office with a push to limit federal spending, Caplinger said.
“Yet our spending continues to grow,” Caplinger said. “And since all of our spending bills start in the House, I don’t understand why something can’t be done to stop some of this frivolous spending.”
Lankford pointed out that in 1994, two-thirds of the budget was discretionary spending while one-third of the budget was mandatory spending. Mandatory spending includes Medicare, Medicaid and all entitlements. Now two-thirds of the federal budget is mandatory spending and one-third is discretionary spending, Lankford said.
“So when we do a budget, it’s on that much smaller slice,” Lankford explained. “All of the push we’ve had on budget sequestration was all about getting to mandatory spending.”
There has been a dramatic increase in the cost of every entitlement but not in discretionary spending, he said. Discretionary spending has decreased slightly, he added. Lankford said the growing population of older Americans, the baby boom generation, is causing entitlement spending to go up greatly.
“There’s been a dramatic increase in things like food stamps, all of the welfare programs …,” Lankford said. “Those are issues you can’t turn off with budget unless you’ve got a full agreement in the House and Senate. The Senate will not do anything on it.”
Lankford said the Senate would like the government to shut down and then blame the House for the problem.
Federal revenue for this fiscal year is $2.5 trillion, while spending for the year is $3.7 trillion, Lankford said. Federal spending was $2.7 trillion in 2007, he added.
“That’s why I say this is a spending-driven issue, not just a tax-driven issue,” Lankford said. More jobs with taxpayers paying taxes and controlling mandatory spending are the only ways to decrease the federal deficit, he said.
“We’ll never be able to do that with this Senate,” Lankford said.
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