The Edmond Sun

Local News

April 19, 2011

Lankford prepares for budget battle

EDMOND — Congressman James Lankford said he will not support Congress going to the American people with the message, “We spent way too much so you need to pay for it.”

President Barack Obama’s deficit reduction plan calls for $4 trillion worth of budget cuts in the next 12 years without gutting Medicare or Medicaid. Spending cuts and tax hikes on families making more than $250,000 a year are part of the Obama debt reduction plan to Congress.

“That’s where the battle’s going to be,” Lankford said Tuesday before the Edmond Area Chamber of Commerce membership at its quarterly luncheon. “It’s very interesting to watch the number of people that are in Congress that will basically be willing to cut any area of spending you want to cut as long as you will also increase taxes.”

Lankford derided the term “balanced approach” used by his opposition to the 2012 GOP budget proposal.

“They are saying our budget is completely imbalanced because we don’t tax major corporations more and we don’t tax wealthy individuals more,” said Lankford, R-Edmond. “I’m thinking the top 1 percent already pays 40 percent of the taxes in America.”

Lankford said that he and other Republicans were accused by a Houston congresswoman of wanting to throw elderly people off of a bridge. Lankford has offered to have further conversations about Medicare and Medicaid, he said.

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., was the House author of the GOP House budget. Ryan’s plan calls for the government to stop direct Medicare payments for senior citizens in 2022. This means that citizens who are currently 55 or older would not experience changes in Medicare, Lankford said.

“Lets start with the facts. In 10 years Medicare will be in default,” Lankford said. We will have dramatic tax increases or dramatic decreases in Medicare itself unless we solve it.”

After 2022, the Ryan plan calls for the federal government to subsidize a plan for Medicare recipients to shift into premium support. This budget proposal is not a voucher program or the privatization of Medicare, Lankford said. The House plan would take the success of Medicare Part D, the prescription drug plan, to Medicare parts A and B, he said. Medicare recipients would be able to choose what they need from a group of health insurance companies, he said.

“Those that are in poverty — it would be fully covered for them,” Lankford said. “For those that make more money, wealthier senior adults, we’ll have an anticipation that you will also pay part of your health care coverage.”

Medicaid would be changed into a series of block grants to the states with few restrictions, Lankford said. States could develop the best plan for their needs, he said.

“Poverty in Oklahoma is different than poverty in New York, West Virginia or in Hawaii,” Lankford said. “We want to give the states flexibility.”

jcoburn@edmondsun.com | 341-2121, ext. 114

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