ICYMI: Securing the Blessings of Liberty
Distinctly Oklahoma Magazine
By Keith A. Eaton
The preamble to our constitution spells out the core values of America. Upholding those values just happen to be the guiding principles that motivate Senator Jim Inhofe in his quest to be the best Senator he can be, for Oklahoma and the nation.
Securing the blessings of liberty for our posterity and ourselves reflect Inhofe’s sense of urgency as he conducts his duties with an eye to directness, efficiency, clarity and pace while incorporating the long view in his legislative proposals. No quick fix, knee-jerk legislation is likely to gain his support.
“The constitution spells out only a limited number of duties that the central government is to perform, certainly not the myriad of actions currently undertaken, particularly by the current administration, that seek to intervene in the lives of everyday citizens at great cost to their liberty.” - Inhofe states his concern.
The Senator performs his duties, not based on polls, but on information he personally gathers by visiting his Oklahoma constituency every weekend in direct face-to-face meetings with business men, civic leaders, blue-collar working people, farmers and ranchers.
Inhofe has served in Oklahoma’s state legislature, both house and senate and served three mayoral terms in his home city of Tulsa, where he executed a successful business career and completed a B.S. degree from the University of Tulsa. This extensive resume of life experience complimented with a tour in the U.S. Army has proven invaluable to his twenty years in the U.S. Senate. But those twenty years have not made him victim to Potomac Fever, as his schedule makes clear.
“The reason I’m not constantly seen on the Sunday television talk shows is that I’m either in Oklahoma, the middle-east or Africa assessing for myself the issues I need to address in behalf of the American people and Oklahoma in particular.” – Jim explains.
As the Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services committee Inhofe is positioned to influence policy, budgetary, and legislative actions that directly affect his primary interest, the defense of our country through a strong, well financed, trained and equipped military.
“The current administration had consistently sought to diminish our military readiness in every aspect through the cancellation of weapon systems, retrenchment of our offshore installations and lowering morale among both enlisted personnel and our career leadership.” - Inhofe pulls no punches in his assessment.
An examination of the administrations record supports his position considering the effort in the president’s first budget to kill the F-22 Raptor jet fighter, opposition to continued production of the C-17 military transport plane and cancellation of the ground based interceptor installation in Poland.
Intercepting such budgetary proposals designed to diminish our capability and capacity to defend our freedoms and protect our allies is not the first time Jim has acted decisively to thwart such attempts. First in 1995 and continuing periodically the dovish members of congress, usually with administration support, attempt to act under the umbrella of the Defense Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC) to accomplish their downsizing of lour military. Inhofe led the successful fight against another round of closures in last year’s congressional session.
Inhofe’s efforts have resulted in creating 4,000 new military and civilian jobs based in Oklahoma installations, including a 3.8 million square foot hanger for the Tinker Aerospace Complex, KC 46A aircraft maintenance facility improvements and moving Boeing C-130 contract work from California to Tinker resulting in the relocation of some 500 engineering and technical jobs. Additionally, Inhofe’s efforts have directly benefited Vance AFB with funding for a $10 million dollar traffic control tower. Ft. Sill benefited from dollars for barracks, firing range infrastructure and modernization of the Paladin mobile artillery system.
The Senator’s second major focus is national infrastructure. Maintaining our national interstate highway complex, interchanges and bridges is another job that is a responsibility of the federal government in partnership with state authorities. Again our Senator’s efforts achieved results benefiting Oklahoma and the nation’s economy.
As a major supporter of the TEA-21 legislation Inhofe’s efforts rewarded Oklahoma by moving the state from a net tax donor to the National Highway Trust Fund to a net receiver. In concrete terms Oklahoma went from a decade average receipt of $269 million to a six-year average of some $400 million, an increase of fifty-six percent. Similarly as author of TEA-LU, the Senator’s work sent three billion in taxes back to Oklahoma for road and bridge improvements.
Not one to relax, Inhofe has continued his fight to make Oklahoma a net receiver of funds. As so-sponsor of MAP-21 legislation, Inhofe indeed accomplished that goal with Oklahoma’s receipt of $600 million annually for the period 2012-2014 to support the continued repair of our state’s roads and bridges.
Traveling the state on a regular schedule, visiting Oklahoma’s farmers and ranchers has given Jim the information he needs to fight the EPA’s regulation overreach (attempting to regulate DUST in farm country). The input from constituents has focused Jim’s efforts to make water supply and distribution adequate to the demands of our state agricultural community. His persistence in the effort to reauthorize the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) is evidence of his commitment to the Oklahoma Agra community. In particular, he has directed the Army Corps of Engineers to reduce regulation and increase water supplies to critical areas of Oklahoma farming and ranching in Southwest Oklahoma.
Beyond domestic affairs, Inhofe keeps his finger on the pulse of the Middle East by traveling to the various hotspots of the region every fifth weekend to assess personally the morale of our troops, the state of unrest in the Iraqi and Afghan governments and remain prepared to make knowledge based decision in his various committee roles.
Africa has occupied Inhofe from a geopolitical, economic and humanitarian perspective for the last decade. During one of his many trips to that continent he encountered a small, malnourished child who was subsequently adopted a compassionate and loving Arkansas family. The child Zagita Marie Inhofe is now twelve and has spoken at the senator’s annual Africa Dinner.
“There are hundreds of American families willing to adopt one of these African orphans and provide them a loving home. The political and bureaucratic red tape bordering on corruption and bribery stands in the path. It’s a human tragedy that I care deeply about.” - Inhofe relates.
The senator has made clear his intention to seek another term to continue the work he has dedicated a significant part of his life to accomplishing.
“I have more to do to restore America’s national defense, military and economy.” – Inhofe affirms.
Inhofe has clearly and articulately stated his views on the current debate over climate change, previously known as global warming, on the floor of the senate and in his book, The Greatest Hoax.
“The EPA, White House and the environmental alarmists headed by Al Gore have proposed the most damaging tax and regulatory burden imaginable in the name of an unproven and highly contested scientific theory alternately called global warming or climate change. If cap and trade legislation were to be enacted, it would ultimately destroy our free market economy.” - Inhofe warns.
The efforts of the current administration to curb development of our natural resources, particularly oil and natural gas through the technological miracle of horizontal drilling combined with the sixty years of experience of fracturing denies America the opportunity to be energy independent. By opening up opportunities to develop fully these resources we can achieve a lowered cost per btu of energy. In turn, we can retrieve lost manufacturing jobs from overseas and avoid paying billions of dollars to countries hostile to our way of life. Jim would likely say it’s a no-brainer. But for the extreme elements of environmentalism even a no-brainer is a high bar to reach.
Oklahomans have historically supported traditional values, a strong military, limited government and have cherished personal and economic freedom.
Their confidence in Jim Inhofe is well placed and Distinctly Oklahoman.