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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  • As education, good jobs falter, violent crime rate will go up

    As April winds down, and with it Child Abuse Prevention Month, it’s worth again noting that the rate of violence in Oklahoma has been creeping up in recent years. And it’s time for our state’s top leaders – who wear blinders when it comes to anything negative – to discuss what we’re going to do about it.
    Late last year, the FBI listed Oklahoma as the 10th most dangerous state in the union, based on statistics from 2012. Violent crimes are rape, murder, robbery and aggravated assault. Some Okies might find it a bit disconcerting to learn that our state ranked above California and New York in this data. Topping the list was Tennessee, followed by Nevada, Alaska, New Mexico, South Carolina, Delaware, Louisiana, Florida and Maryland.

    April 23, 2014

  • Ban on wage hikes by municipalities a mark of hypocrisy

    The words “God” and “governor” may share the same first two letters, but the two are hardly interchangeable.
    But let’s assume Gov. Mary Fallin really isn’t deluded enough to place her powers on the level of a deity. What rationale would a woman who has championed smaller government and local control use to explain her hypocrisy in banning individual Oklahoma cities from raising minimum wages in their jurisdictions?

    April 18, 2014

  • Community cleanups a good way to ensure our collective success

    This is our community – and it’s no better than what we make it. Let’s make it look great.

    April 16, 2014

  • Attack at school in Pennsylvania: Mental illness root of problem

    Washington’s crusade against guns was dealt a severe blow on Wednesday. No, it wasn’t the Supreme Court curtailment of the Second Amendment right of all Americans to own firearms. It wasn’t an executive order handed down by the administration. It was the brutal assault by a high school student in Pennsylvania against his fellow students – with a knife.

    April 14, 2014

  • People with faulty zippers should be booted from office

    We may forgive, but we shouldn’t forget, because there’s serious work to do in Washington. That work will never be accomplished as long as flawed zippers - literally or figurately – are a pervasive problem.

    April 11, 2014

  • Do your part to fight animal and child abuse

    It’s hard to change the habits of an abuser, especially when mitigating factors – such as alcohol or drugs – are involved. And these patterns tend to repeat themselves in successive generations. But all of us can take one small step to help eradicate this epidemic, and that is to report it when we see it.

    April 9, 2014

  • NSA head lies to Congress, and seems to get away with it

    Is there an obvious pattern of criminality within these governmental agencies? If so, why isn’t the Judicial Department investigating?

    April 7, 2014

  • Pass for rich kiddie rapist proves that justice isn’t blind

    Someone in Wilmington, Del., needs to keep an eye on Superior Court Judge Jan Jurden for the next few months, because she might improve her standard of living due to a sudden influx of cash.
    There’s no other way to explain why Jurden would have sentenced an ultra-wealthy heir to the du Pont fortune to probation for raping his 3-year-old daughter. It’s an outrageous miscarriage of justice that once again proves when it comes to the U.S. justice system, the elite get a pass almost every time.

    April 4, 2014

  • Maybe it’s not $3.2B, but state should still account for tribal cash

    In an editorial published last week, the Daily Press said that through tribal compacts, the state of Oklahoma received about $3.2 billion in annual revenue, partly attributable to the 117 casinos (or 118, in some reports) run by 33 tribes in the state. The information we accessed for that piece was confusing, and had a typo or two, which may have led us to overstate – to a considerable degree – how much money the tribes actually give the state.

    April 2, 2014

  • Tribal compacts should mean state has money to perform its functions

    Oklahoma should be rolling in the dough. The statistics bear that out. Thirty-three American Indian tribes operate 117 casinos in this state. Thanks to “compacts,” these tribes have been sharing the wealth with the state of Oklahoma. And thanks to the casinos, that wealth is substantial.

    March 28, 2014


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