November 2, 2012

U.S. Rep. District 4 debate

The Express-Star

OKLAHOMA — What new issues do you plan to tackle if reelected or elected?

Tom Cole (R): If reelected I will work to avoid the sequester, which is an across the board budget cut that will devastate domestic and defense spending.

I will also work to keep taxes low for small businesses and middle class Americans by working to extend the Bush tax cuts.

I’d like to see the passages of the Farm Bill. Our own Frank Lucas has worked extremely hard to craft a bipartisan piece of legislation, it deserves to be voted on before the end of the year.

In the 113th Congress, we have a genuine shot at significant tax reform. I would like to see a lowering of rates via expanding the base of taxpayers and eliminating loopholes.

Donna Bebo (D): While I certainly don't consider jobs legislation to be a "new issue", I feel that our current Congress has failed to deliver on their 2010 promises of "jobs, jobs, jobs".  We need to set aside partisan differences and work to pass meaningful jobs legislation.  I would make it a priority to cut incentives for companies who ship our jobs overseas and support legislation that promotes job growth here, at home.  I also believe that it is vital for us to permanently extend tax cuts for working Americans.

What areas do we need to make cuts in at the Federal level?

DB: The key to cutting Federal spending is to be found in streamlining our government and trimming waste across the board.  But, I also believe we must protect programs which are vital to our nation's most vulnerable citizens.  Programs which help our elderly, disabled, veterans, low income families, and children must be safeguarded.

TC: We are making cuts in a variety of areas.

The first area to review is the tax code. There are simply too many credits and exemptions. These need to be thoughtfully reviewed by Congress.

We need to eliminate duplicative government bureaucracies. The federal government should allow states more control over the federal programs they administer. We can look at components within the Ryan budget, such as block granting Medicaid funds to states. This is essentially the same approach Congress took with welfare reform which has been very successful.

What sort of legislation or work will you do in order to push Native America issues?

TC: Throughout my time in Congress I have been repeatedly recognized as a leader on tribal policy and Native American issues. As the only currently serving Native American member of Congress, I work tirelessly to guarantee that the trust relationship between the Federal Government and Tribes is honored.

That being said, I would like to see legislation that would give tribes more control over their territory and natural resources.

In addition, I would like to pass legislation that would fix the Carcieri decision by the United States Supreme Court. That decision effectively created two classes of Native American Tribes and limits the ability of tribes to put land in trust.

I would also like to do more in Indian Healthcare and Education. Studies show that Native Americas have shorter life spans and fewer educational opportunities than any other group of Americans. These are areas the US government can and should do much to improve.

DB: Our government has a responsibility to honor its treaties.  This means we must place a high priority on respecting tribal sovereignty.  This responsibility would be my guide for all legislation which will impact our Native American tribes.

How do you feel about implementing term limits in regards to members of Congress?

DB:  I am in favor of term limits.

TC: I have always supported the concept if such limits are equally applied to the whole Congress. I supported and voted for our Oklahoma legislature adopting term limits. I support similar legislation at the federal level – but only if it applies to all states.

Why should a Grady County citizen vote for you?

TC: It is a great honor to serve the people of the 4th District of Oklahoma. I believe I will do the best job of representing the 4th district’s values and interests in the United States Congress. I will work to uphold things we believe in like a smaller but more effective government, a flatter and fairer tax system and a balanced budget. During my time in Congress I have an attendance and voting record of 99% and I have helped to reduce the budgets of congressional offices by 11% and passed legislation through the House to eliminate the funding of political conventions and presidential campaigns by the taxpayers.

DB: From the very beginning of my campaign, I made a commitment to the people of our district.  I promised that their needs would always come first.  I pledged to run a campaign solely funded by individual voters and to keep our campaign local.  I have kept my word.  100% of my campaign contributions are from individuals and all of our campaign merchandise has been purchased through local vendors, within our district.  As your Representative, I would continue to put you first.  I work for you (and you alone).