Tahlequah Daily Press


June 3, 2013

Should we help them, or not?

TAHLEQUAH — The U.S. taxpayers may have gotten lucky. It appears congressional approval for a new infusion of disaster relief funds may not be needed for the May 20 tornado that devastated Moore, because some of the money left over from Hurricane Sandy is being put to good use in Oklahoma.

There’s some irony in that, because Oklahoma’s two senators – Tom Coburn and Jim Inhofe – voted against relief for Sandy victims. Most of Oklahoma’s delegation followed suit, except Congressman Tom Cole, who commented at the time that someday, Oklahoma would be asking for help. Moore is Cole’s home district, and he had said he would vote in favor of disaster relief, but that seems consistent with the pattern established by this true “compassionate conservative.” Though he’s held to his Republican roots in supporting smaller government, when it comes to folks who really need help, he’s in their corner.

To his credit, Coburn is also consistent: He voted against aid for Hurricane Sandy victims, and he planned to vote against it for tornado victims in Oklahoma. It’s not that he’s opposed to disaster relief in principle, but he feels that for every “new” dollar of federal spending, a dollar needs to be cut elsewhere in the budget. That sounds plausible, but in reality, it never happens, as any accountant will tell you. Coburn knows this, too, because his GOP colleagues in Congress are just as guilty as any of their free-spending Democratic counterparts when it comes to protecting their own private pork barrels.

While Coburn and Cole may be consistent when it comes to emergency spending, Inhofe is a study in contradictions. He said the Moore tornado was “totally different” than the Hurricane Sandy situation, because riders had been attached to fund unrelated projects. It’s hard to disagree with Inhofe that such clauses have no place in emergency funding, but one has to wonder if he’s using that as an excuse to be stingy with fellow Americans who need our help.

“Conservative,” for some politicians, has been redefined as “spartan” – stripping government to the bare bones and rendering it impotent. But austerity measures are wearing thin, not just in the U.S., but elsewhere. As most experts in the number-crunch game agree, it’s not possible to make drastic cuts over a span of a year or two without risking economic meltdown. We’re seeing pullbacks on the extreme belt-tightening in European countries for that reason – and these countries have been around far longer than the U.S. Poking fun at their “socialist” agendas or liberal philosophies seems juvenile when our own system hasn’t stood the test of real time. But if budget cuts are the name of the game, and we want to reduce the deficit, let’s hitch up a bandwagon most voters  would be happy to ride. Let’s cut the salaries of the do-nothing politicians in the Beltway, take away their honorariums, and let them – instead of taxpayers – foot the bill for their cherry health care policies. Then we might be able to help folks who have, through no fault of their own, become victims in the wake of a natural disaster.

It’s what the public wants. A poll conducted last week shows 59 percent of Americans think disaster relief for the tornado should be funded separately from existing programs, while only 23 percent wanted that spending offset by other cuts. Inhofe and Coburn might be surprised to learn 53 percent of Republicans feel that way. Cole probably wouldn’t be surprised. As he told NPR: “I actually think people are much more reasonable than politicians sometimes. And if you’ll come back and explain the issue to them, they usually understand.” Perhaps these same “people” will also come to understand the representatives they elected aren’t necessarily representing them.

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  • If you see a drunken driver, take the time to call in a report

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    July 14, 2014

  • City officials should stop squabbling and try to work together

    It’s bad enough that the Chamber of Commerce scandal has given Tahlequah a black eye. But if the bickering among city officials doesn’t stop, the community will have a complete set of shiners for its public face.

    July 11, 2014

  • Only full disclosure will restore trust in the chamber

    Despite pressure from some quarters, neither the Press nor anyone else who values full disclosure will be clamming up until all the facts are known, and those who are responsible meet with justice.

    July 10, 2014

  • Only full disclosure will restore trust in the chamber

    A few board members for the Tahlequah Area Chamber of Commerce are saying they’ve heard nothing but positive things lately – about the chamber itself, and presumably, about themselves.

    July 9, 2014

  • Employer-sponsored insurance may now be a ‘hostage’ situation

    When the fallout settles from the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision, many Americans might decide they’re better off with health insurance that doesn’t come from their boss.

    July 7, 2014

  • With confidence in Congress at 7 percent, time for a new slate

    Note to Congress: We don’t like you. Not at all.
    A Gallup poll released Monday, June 30 confirmed what most of us already know: the American public is disgusted with the House and Senate. The survey recorded the lowest level of confidence since Gallup began asking the question in 1991: a whopping 7 percent. That’s not a typographical error; it’s a single digit.

    July 2, 2014

  • New chamber head needs to be free from scandal’s taint

    Every time another layer is peeled off the unfolding saga of the Tahlequah Area Chamber of Commerce embezzlement case, those going through the records hope they might see a light at the end of the tunnel. So far, that hasn’t happened.

    June 30, 2014

  • Does fracking cause earthquakes? Just in case, get insurance

    There are no professional geologists on the staff of the Tahlequah Daily Press, so we can’t unequivocally say just how much damage fracking is causing to the environment.

    June 27, 2014

  • As chamber scandal expands, plenty of blame to go around

    If the proverbial buck being passed over the Tahlequah Area Chamber of Commerce scandal were a real dollar bill, it would already be worn so thin you could read this newspaper through it.

    June 23, 2014

  • Suicide prevention bill may solve other problems as well

    A bipartisan bill signed into law recently by Gov. Mary Fallin could give schools they leverage and resources they need to help thwart suicide.
    If the initiative works, it could make giant strides in reversing an alarming trend in suicide among teens, and increasingly, among pre-teens. That’s especially important for Oklahoma, where the suicide rate per capita is the 13th highest in the nation.

    June 20, 2014


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