OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – A U.S. senator from Oklahoma is back in the Sooner State to discuss what if happening at the U.S. Capitol.
Sen. James Lankford, (R-Oklahoma), says as lawmakers at the United States Capitol talk about the debt ceiling, there will be tough discussions about excess spending.
“We’re not gonna default on our debt. No one wants to default on our debt, but we do need to have real, adult conversations about what are we gonna do on our spending. We’re over $1 trillion in overspending each year, not $1 trillion in total spending, overspending $1 trillion every year. There’s a moment that we’ve got to be able to pause and say, ‘OK, what are we going to do?’ We can’t fix it in a year but we’ve gotta change the trajectory of how we’re doing our spending and then see if we can get back in the balance over the course of several years,” Lankford said.
Lankford says cuts don’t necessarily need to be made to assistance programs, adding that there are plenty of items that can be considered wasteful spending.
“For all the folks who say, ‘There’s nowhere to cut, the government’s totally efficient;’ I always respond and say, ‘No, there’s lots of areas of waste in government.’ We put out every year a book called ‘Federal Fumbles’ This is our seventh of them where we won’t highlight every area of waste but we’ll pull some examples and say, ‘This is an area that federal tax dollars are spent. Is everybody OK with this?’ And try to release that out for people to see and just hopefully start a dialogue about it. And it’s things like, we did a study of butchers’ language in Paris. Apparently, butchers in Paris have their own secret language and so we did American tax dollars to do that. We did a study of German butterflies and paid a Swedish scientist to be able to go do that study. We spent $4 million on putting a new wine trail through Napa Valley, California, one of the wealthiest communities in the world. And I just asked the question, ‘Why do the people of Oklahoma, working two jobs, having to pay taxes to be able to pay for the wine trail through Napa Valley, California?’ So they’re just practical things that we put out there; some are small, some are large. But we wanna say, ‘Ok, let’s look at how we’re spending, the process of how these decisions get made’ so we can do this better to actually focus on national defense and education,” he said.
Lankford says wasteful spending is not something that can be attributed to one particular party or politician.
“This is not a partisan issue. This is a government waste issue and it’s a decision-making issue. When I look at it and say, ‘There are key things that everyone expects us to do; national security, infrastructure, water systems. I mean, all those things, distinctly governmental entities. Let’s do those and do those well and then ask the question, what can we afford after that? But right now, there are all these grants, all these earmarks and things that are put out that I look at and I go, no one can explain why that’s there other than just someone felt like I had some extra money, I’m going to do it. That extra money is actually our money and it needs to be saved or put towards deficit reduction,” Lankford said.
When asked about the particular projects in Oklahoma that might be considered wasteful, Sen. Lankford said the Sooner State has a different philosophy.
Lankford says the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame received $1 million in federal funds, while the New York Metropolitan Opera received $750,000.
That funding paid for the opera’s fire suppression system, even though it is one of the most prosperous venues in the nation.
“But you look at the Bob Dylan Center in Tulsa. We need federal dollars for that. We can get federal dollars for these sorts of things. We paid for those things. Those communities, New York City, I guarantee you has enough money they can pay for the fire suppression system there. And people may say, ‘Well it needs to be done.’ And I understand it needs to be done but does it need to be done by the people of Oklahoma, paying for the fire suppression system there.”