The congressman spoke June 20 at the Edmond Republican Women’s Club “Sundaes on a Monday” event, which also featured singer, gay rights opponent and former Miss Oklahoma Anita Bryant.
Lankford, a Republican, was elected in November to fill the 5th Congressional District seat vacated by now-Gov. Mary Fallin, and prior to that served as director for the Falls Creek Youth Camp from 1996 to 2009.
“We’re really honored to have such a courageous man at the national level. He really exemplifies courage and faith,” Bryant said as she introduced Lankford.
Lankford said his political career is a product of dutifulness.
“This is not courage; this is just obedience. This is what we (Lankford and his wife) sense God calling us to do, and we’re just doing it,” Lankford said. “We came to a point about a year and a half ago where we knew we would be grandparents one day telling our grandchildren about the time we didn’t follow God if we don’t do this. We determined we did not want to be that couple.”
Lankford told the group about several important issues coming up in Washington, and later expanded on his thoughts in an interview with Oklahoma Gazette.
The first topic to arise at the meeting was the involvement of the U.S. military in the NATO bombing campaign in Libya. Under the War Powers Act, the president has 90 days after military action begins to bring the issue to Congress for approval, a time threshold that has passed for the military action in Libya.
“Our president is saying to us, ‘We are not at war with Libya because we don’t have ground troops, so there’s no reason to ask for the War Powers Act.’ My response to that has been if someone parked a boat off the coast of California and started launching missiles into the United States, even if they didn’t have troops on the ground, I would consider that an act of war,” Lankford said. “Regardless of our perspective of whether we should or shouldn’t be in Libya, there is a constitutional crisis that is currently occurring on how we handle our troops and how we engage and what path we engage in.”
Lankford, who sits on the House Budget Committee, also spoke about the federal government’s debt ceiling. Failure to raise the debt ceiling could result in the government defaulting on some of its debt and putting the country’s credit rating in jeopardy.
The debt ceiling eventually will be raised, Lankford said, but not without an effort by him and others in Congress to curb deficit spending. Lankford said he hoped to see immediate, significant spending cuts, changes to entitlement programs and a balanced-budget amendment.
“We will eventually have to raise the debt ceiling or we will collapse,” Lankford said. “There is no quick fix. I wish I could stand in front of you
and say we’ll cut off the U.N. and we’ll shut down this program and shut
down that program and solve it. That’s not true. We’re $1.5 trillion in
deficit spending this year. This is the equivalent for most Americans
if I went to them and said, ‘You need to pay off your mortgage next
When asked whether raising taxes along with spending cuts could help solve the budget deficit, Lankford said it would not be wise to do so, that spending was the problem and that economic stability and job creation would generate more income tax revenue.
never gone to a boss ever in my life and said, ‘I ran up a big credit
card bill at home, you need to pay me more,’” Lankford said. “I don’t
think Americans have confidence that their government is spending wisely
and efficiently. It’s the wrong time to go to them and say, ‘We’ve been
such good stewards with the money you gave us; you ought to give us
Lankford said all options should be on the table in terms of cuts, and praised President Obama and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates’ effort to cut $178 billion from defense spending in five years.
Lankford is a supporter of the budget plan offered by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., that would significantly change the way Medicare operates. The plan has come under intense fire by Democrats and organizations such as AARP, and has been described as turning Medicare into a voucher program, while offering significant tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations.
Lankford said the plan would not turn Medicare into a voucher program, but would use the premium-support model found in the Medicare Part D prescription drug plan as a template for how other parts of Medicare would operate. The plan would send money from the Medicare program to private insurance companies to provide medical coverage for the elderly, and would affect those 54 years old or younger.
“It’s not a voucher program. That’s a pejorative term and it has a meaning. A ‘voucher’ is when I send you a check and say, ‘Go out on the free market and try to buy insurance’ — that’s not what this is,” Lankford said, adding that the plan would not ration care or kick Medicare recipients out of the program. “The status quo is the worst thing we could do. If we do nothing but argue about it, we go insolvent and go into panic mode by 2020.”
Lankford said although the partisan divide in Washington is wide at the moment, he had confidence that his party could come together for solutions to many of the major issues.
“If we can work out our differences as Republicans, we can do some really significant things in our nation,” he said. “This is a time our nation needs us to be entrepreneurial and do significant things again. We are not too far gone.”