The Edmond Sun
OKLA. CITY —
The campaign for the congressional 5th District geared up this week as Democrat Tom Guild welcomed supporters to his new campaign office.
More than 100 people yelling “Go Tom go” packed Guild’s office, located at the Stoneway Office Center, 2401 N.W. Interstate 44 Service Road, Suite 206, between Pennsylvania and May Avenue
Republican Congressional 5th District Congressman James Lankford was challenged by Guild in 2012 when voters elected Lankford for a second term. Lankford has not made a formal announcement that he will run for re-election in 2014.
“I take Mr. Lankford’s vote to cut food stamps by $39 billion over a 10-year period of time — I take that very personally,” Guild said.
Lankford was one of 217 House Republicans in September who voted for House Resolution 3102, a measure to cut the Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) by $39 billion within 10 years. All five of Oklahoma’s U.S. congressmen voted for House Resolution 3102.
The Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma reported that “more than 675,000 Oklahomans are at risk of going hungry every day” and that “1 in 4 children in Oklahoma struggles with hunger.”
Guild said that he was born to a poor family. He and his brother would not have survived if it were not for the government commodities provided to his family, he said.
“So Mr. Lankford with his cuts, which recently took effect, is doing that to millions of Americans, including millions of children,” said Guild, 59. “You can have the rest of your lifetime and you’d never convince me this is what Jesus would want.”
Lankford said the bill requires beneficiaries to qualify for food stamp benefits. The legislation lets states mandate a work requirement for able-bodied workers without dependents to receive SNAP benefits, Lankford said.
Able-bodied adults without dependents are required to work a minimum of 20 hours a week to receive SNAP benefits, said Mark Beutler, Oklahoma Department of Human Services spokesperson. The measure became effective Oct. 1.
The term “able-bodied adult” is considered to be a person from 18-49 years of age who lives without a disability or a dependent. Whether somebody has been actively looking for employment without success is not taken into account by the new law, Beutler said.
“SNAP is intended to be a transitional safety net for needy Americans,” Lankford said. “People who are fraudulently receiving benefits are taking resources away from the families who need them most.”
The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported that the new law will cause a family of four to receive $36 less each month in nutrition assistance. Families with eight have their benefits reduced $65 a month. The average monthly benefit per household in the U.S. was $278 last year.
Retired United Methodist Minister Jim Gragg said he strongly endorses the progressive platform that Guild would bring to Congress.
“His upbringing had clear training ground for the compassion that he has for Oklahomans who struggle to make ends meet, who need a hand up,” said Susan McCann, representing the group Change Oklahoma. “And who today are looking for a representative who will preserve the programs and opportunities our government offers to Oklahoma’s working and poor families.”
Guild is the progressive alternative to what Lankford brings to Congress, said Elizabeth Overman, a professor of political science at the University of Central Oklahoma
“Tom would not shut down the government. Tom does care about people,” Overman said. “He does care that the Affordable Care Act is actually implemented and that people have access to health care.”
Congress needs to resolve the $17 trillion national debt now in order not to burden future generations, Lankford said at a recent speech at the Herbert W. Armstrong College. Lankford told the students there will be campaign commercials that say, “This guy is running the poor out.”
“Will we focus right now on ourselves, or will we have two eyes looking two different directions towards what is happening in the next generation and towards right now?” Lankford said. “That will require difficult decisions. Those decisions have to be made now because they don’t get easier.”
Guild, an educator, said that depriving children today of the nutrition will hinder their intellectual development, depriving them of an opportunity to compete effectively as adults in the labor force.
“It makes no sense to deprive children today of the nutrition they need to stay healthy and stay alive for some hypothetical future time,” Guild said. “And if you put these cuts in today — it will not only hurt children today — it will hurt children tomorrow.”
Guild is a retired Oklahoma City professor emeritus of legal studies and political science. He was awarded the title of Professor Emeritus after serving as professor of business legal studies and political science at the University of Central Oklahoma for 27 years.
“We need to take steps to stimulate the economy, repair our infrastructure, create jobs which will increase the amount of money that is subject to taxation, and which will continue to make a bigger dent in the deficit in the next few years,” Guild said. “And that in turn will cut down the projection for the long-term accumulation of more national debt.”
Candidates for office will become official when they file April 9-11, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day for state-wide elections. A primary election date will be June 4. Election day is Nov. 4.