OKLAHOMA City has done it again. People in this generous city wasted no time rallying to save the annual Red Andrews Christmas Dinner, which just a week ago seemed headed for oblivion when it was announced it wouldn't be held this year due to health issues involving leading organizers.
Early this week, one of Red Andrews' nephews, Larry Cassil, said he would take on the challenge of hosting the dinner, a fixture since 1940s and which last year fed about 6,000 less-fortunate Oklahomans. By Wednesday, it was announced a foundation had been formed to make sure the dinner continues.
“Collectively we have implemented a plan to ensure the dinner's success in perpetuity,” said attorney Robert Goldman, whose family has long been involved with the event. He said response to the original announcement had been “overwhelming.”
Goldman is chairman of the foundation's board. Other board members are Cassil and attorney John Yoeckel, a member of the Oklahoma City Planning Commission.
“Many citizens in this city found the news of the discontinuation of the Red Andrews dinner unacceptable,” said Teresa Rose, director of community relations for Chesapeake Energy Corp. “Calls were made, and we discovered that a lot of people felt the same way.”
So the needy in our community still have a place to go on Christmas Day for a hot meal and a gift. Kudos.
in the House
It hasn't taken long for U.S. Rep. James Lankford to make an impression on fellow Republican members. In April 2011, four months after taking office, Lankford, R-Oklahoma City, was chosen to give the Republican response to President Barack Obama's weekly radio address. He continued to shine as chairman of a House subcommittee on intergovernmental relations and with his work in helping craft a federal highway bill. This week his stock rose some more when he was elected chairman of the House Policy Committee, the No. 5 spot in the House Republican hierarchy. The committee helps craft GOP positions on issues and makes sure members are up to speed on them. Two of Lankford's Oklahoma colleagues saw this coming. Rep. Tom Cole, R-Moore, recently raved to us about Lankford's first two years, and Rep. Frank Lucas, R-Cheyenne, who's about to begin his 19th year in the House, called Lankford “the most unfreshman freshman I've ever seen.” Congratulations!
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has grown weary of Republicans using filibusters to block legislation. So instead of forwarding better legislation, Reid is considering a vote in January to change the rules of the Senate — and doing so with the backing of a simple majority of members. It normally takes a two-thirds vote to change Senate rules. Reid says he doesn't want to end the filibuster, “but we're going to make the Senate a more meaningful place, we're going to make it so that we can get things done.” That's comical coming from a man who hasn't seemed to mind that the Senate he controls hasn't submitted a budget proposal in three years. Changing the rules by simple majority is called the “nuclear option” for a reason. If he follows through, Reid is sure to feel the heat from that blast.
Hope over experience?
Critics have warned Oklahoma officials who are considering expansion of the Medicaid program in order to obtain Obamacare subsidies that the cost of the program is already unsustainable and will only get worse if more people are added to the rolls. Evidence for that argument can be seen in neighboring Arkansas where that state's Medicaid program has a shortfall of $358 million. Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe is proposing a combination of new spending (including one-time funds) and budget cuts to address the problem. And that's the situation without an expansion of the program. In Oklahoma, lawmakers in recent years have raided the Insure Oklahoma fund, which is meant to help citizens obtain private insurance, in order to prop up Medicaid. Medicaid's Oklahoma costs continue to escalate even without the Obamacare expansion. In both Oklahoma and Arkansas, an expansion of Medicaid could be the triumph of hope over budget experience.
Eating their own
Want a glimpse of what happens to businesses reliant on government regulation to stay viable? Take a look at California, where cheese makers benefit from a state law governing the price they pay for milk. The price has been so low that many dairies are now going out of business — an estimated 100 out of roughly 1,600 this year. Dairy owners obviously favor raising the price. Cheese makers argue a milk price increase could drive them out of business given the high cost of operating in California due to its other excessive regulations. To offset the impact of overreaching government regulations, cheese makers are forced to promote ... other overreaching government regulations. Instead of competing through the marketplace and letting consumers ultimately determine price, California's dairies and cheese makers must compete in lobbying state lawmakers. That's no way to run an economy.
Could be worse
Oklahoma Democrats, having further lost seats in the Legislature, may be licking their wounds but things could be worse. In Arkansas, Democrats lost a seat to a Green Party candidate due to self-inflicted wounds. Fred Smith won a state House race after a judge ruled that votes for his Democratic opponent could not be counted. Democratic Rep. Hudson Hallum had pleaded guilty to a federal charge of conspiracy to commit election fraud and resigned from office after his name was placed on the ballot. Since no Republican filed for the seat, Smith won by default. Smith previously held the same seat as a Democrat before resigning when facing legal charges of his own. Still, losing to a Green Party candidate at the same time Republicans won control of the Arkansas Legislature had to be salt in the wound for Natural State Democrats.
In the Oklahoma House of Representatives, lawmakers take their oath of office in November, but the House speaker isn't formally elected until January. State Rep. Mike Reynolds, R-Oklahoma City, suggests that means the House Speaker-elect may not be authorized to expend funds during those two months. That's nonsense, because the House budget was authorized in July. Taken to its logical extreme, Reynolds' argument would have House employees go without pay for two months and then get back pay in January. What public purpose would that serve? Such pharisaical legalism is pointless, but then Reynolds often specializes in such objections. He once debated against his own amendment on the House floor. Reynolds' actions appear united not by ideological commitment, but by the unseemly desire to disrupt orderly operation of the Legislature — even when it's to the detriment of citizens and the cause of good government.