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U.S. House budget reflects Republican core values, Oklahoma Rep. James Lankford says

The House Republican budget largely resembles one from last year. It won't clear the Democratic Senate, but it lays out the party's election-year priorities.
by Chris Casteel Published: April 2, 2012
/articleid/3662798/1/pictures/1685049">Photo - U.S. Rep. James Lankford <strong>PAUL HELLSTERN</strong>
U.S. Rep. James Lankford PAUL HELLSTERN

This year, House Republican priorities are well known. And there are few expectations that anything will be done about spending reductions, tax policy and entitlement reform until after the November elections.

Oklahoma lawmakers said the relatively subdued reaction to the Republican budget means more acceptance of its approach.

“I think seniors at home that I talk to understand there are serious problems in the funding of Medicare,” Lankford said.

Cole said, “The fact that it's not as violent a reaction this year suggests we were wise to be strong and forthright and bold from the very beginning.

“That's the kind of politics the country really wants. Voters really understand that decisions that aren't very easy need to be made, and I think they're looking for someone to do it.”

Cole said that even with the tax hikes proposed by President Barack Obama, the president's budget wouldn't come close to the kind of deficit reduction needed.

“We're willing to have this debate: How big do you want the government to be?” Cole said.

“The worst thing is to do nothing. We know that Medicare and Medicaid are going to collapse under the own weight unless there are real changes.”

Bipartisan alternative

Rep. Dan Boren, of Muskogee, the only Democrat in Oklahoma's five-person House delegation, voted last week for the only bipartisan alternative offered during two days of debate on various budget blueprints.

That one, based on recommendations from President Barack Obama's fiscal commission in 2010, got only 38 votes out of the 420 members voting.

Boren was among the Democrats who said last year that the Republican budget would “end Medicare as we know it.”

He didn't go that far this year since the traditional Medicare program would be one of the options seniors could choose with their government premium support. But he said the budget this year would still “change what the program means to people.”

Boren said Medicare must be reformed to survive.

But, he said, “We can do it in a way that doesn't turn it into a voucher system.”

Boren is not running for re-election this year, but he had some advice on whether the six Republicans vying to replace him should publicly support the House Republican budget.

“My advice would be not to do that,'' Boren said. “Medicare is a big issue in my district.”

by Chris Casteel
Washington Bureau
Chris Casteel began working for The Oklahoman's Norman bureau in 1982 while a student at the University of Oklahoma. After covering the police beat, federal courts and the state Legislature in Oklahoma City, he moved to Washington in 1990, where...
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