A Congressional Budget Office report projecting annual deficits of $1 trillion or more for at least the next 10 years may have been drowned out by President Donald Trump’s impeachment proceedings, but it did not escape the notice of U.S. Sen. James Lankford.
“The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office’s latest report on our nation’s skyrocketing debt and deficits continues to paint a picture of what my team and I have been trying to address for years — our nation’s debt,” Lankford said in a written statement.
“Deficit is not something that we can continue to say that we will address ‘someday.’ We need to get on top of our spending problems now while our economy is growing.”
Lankford maintains the deficits are not tied to the 2017 tax cuts. He cited record projected revenue for this budget year of $3.64 trillion, about half of which comes from income taxes.
Many economists disagree with Lankford about the 2017 tax measure. They say revenue would have grown faster without the reductions, particularly to corporate income taxes, which have fallen sharply in real terms. No one, however, claims the tax cuts alone account for the deficits, which have risen from 2.4% of gross domestic product in 2015 to 4.6% now.
Historically, deficits have been under 2% except during recessions and major wars, according to the watchdog Taxpayers for Common Sense.
“As Congress prepares to start discussions on how we will fund the government for the next fiscal year, I remain committed to actually solving our federal debt and deficit issues with real, tangible solutions to eliminate waste, fraud, and abuse in our government,” Lankford said.
Back to work: U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe said he expects the Senate to resume normal operation as soon as the Trump impeachment trial is over.
“People are assuming we’re now enemies for life,” said Inhofe. “We’re not. ... We’re all good friends.”
War powers: Oklahoma’s House Republicans fussed about the Democratic majority’s efforts to limit President Donald Trump’s ability to wage war on Iran.
Democrats and a handful of Republicans passed measures repealing a 2002 authorization of use of military force in Iraq — which Trump and his two immediate predecessors have interpreted broadly — and barring the administration from spending money to attack Iran.
“This is just the latest attempt by Pelosi Democrats to undermine President Trump at every turn,” 2nd District Congressman Markwayne Mullin said in a press release. “While the AUMF may need some updating and enhancing, repealing it without providing updated authority puts our national security at risk and ties our president’s hands.”
“I have long been supportive of having a debate about how Congress can reclaim its constitutional power to authorize and declare war,” 4th District Congressman Tom Cole said in a press release. “To be clear though, President Donald Trump has not waged war with Iran — nor does he want to do so.”
Democrat Kendra Horn said the measures were about Congress acknowledging its responsibilities.
“The 2002 AUMF we voted to repeal today needed to be taken off the books,” Horn said. “It was enacted to confront the Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq, a regime that hasn’t existed for more than 15 years. ... Regardless of who holds the title of Commander in Chief, Congress must fulfill its constitutional obligation to set the course for where and when our Armed Forces are used.”
Final frontier: A rare situation occurred last week when two Oklahomans — Horn and 3rd District Rep. Frank Lucas — led the subcommittee markup of the reauthorization bill for an agency headed by yet another Oklahoman, former 1st District Rep. Jim Bridenstine.
Horn chairs the Science, Space and Technology subcommittee that oversees the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, which Bridenstine now runs. Lucas is the ranking Republican of the full committee, but offered opening remarks in favor of the proposed bill.
Lucas said the bill isn’t everything Republicans would have wanted, but it includes elements important to him and the administration.
“During the drafting of this bill, I made clear my top priority is to ensure that this committee supports the (moon) program and that nothing in this legislation would be a roadblock to NASA putting astronauts on the moon by 2024,” Lucas said in his opening remarks. “I would not have joined this bill as a cosponsor if I believed it inhibited NASA’s efforts to achieve this goal.”
That doesn’t mean all was harmonious among the three. Republicans are miffed that Horn’s bill is geared more toward Mars exploration than reaching the moon by 2024, as advocated by the Trump administration.
Bridenstine, meanwhile, was disappointed by the measure’s ban on private development of lunar landers, as were many scientists and space industry interests.
Horn told Quartz her position on the matter is at least partially informed by her experience with the private contractors who have made such a hash of on-base housing at Tinker Air Force Base and other military installations.
Dots and dashes: Lucas, as the senior Republican on the House Science committee, continued to push his party toward acceptance of climate change and the need to address it, saying, “As a farmer and rancher, I have seen firsthand the impact of the changing climate. Our continued economic growth requires us to address it. But we have to do so in a way that doesn’t raise energy prices and hurt American families and businesses. We need to invest in research that produces next generation technologies, ensuring America is the leader in producing cleaner and more affordable energy for the world.” ... Inhofe may be a fan of Trump’s overall military buildup, but he’s at odds with the administration over plans to reduce the United States’ already limited forces in Africa. Inhofe says terrorism is a continuing threat on the continent and Russia and China are poised to move into any void created by U.S. withdrawal. Inhofe protege Ryan Jackson left the Environmental Protection Agency, where he was chief of staff to director Andrew Wheeler, for a coal lobbying job. ... Oklahoma Teacher of the Year Jena Nelson will be Horn’s State of the Union guest on Tuesday.