By Robert Barron, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle
U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., has joined with Texas congressman Ron Paul to protest the latest budget agreement in which members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives agreed to ban congressional earmarks.
Inhofe said the ban gives bureaucrats more control over how taxpayer funds are spent.
“It’s no surprise then, that Mr. Obama was quick to endorse the ban on congressional earmarks. It grants his administration more power to pursue its agenda by exercising a power that properly resides with Congress,” Inhofe said. “Now we have Mr. Obama making all the decisions, and it’s made my job much harder.”
Inhofe talked about earmarks during an interview with the Enid News & Eagle Monday. He is criss-crossing the state this week, taking his message to the people.
This isn’t the first time he has spoken out, and it isn’t the first time his view has been unpopular. Nine years ago Inhofe was the first to openly doubt greenhouse gases cause global warming. He called it a hoax at the time. Today he says he has been proven correct about man-made global warming.
When Republicans voted to ban earmarks in 2009, Inhofe opposed giving up that constitutional authority. By Congress giving up the earmarks, Inhofe said the Obama administration — and future administrations — will be able to spend the money for their own programs and oversight and transparency will decline. The $787 billion stimulus bill, which was opposed by both Inhofe and Paul, did not contain a single Congressional earmark, he said.
The fiscal 2011 budget agreement gives the Department of Defense $17 billion less than President Obama’s budget, he said. Inhofe opposed the bill, which was passed to keep the government running for the rest of the fiscal year.
Inhofe pointed out the Constitution gives the Senate and House spending authority.
“According to James Madison’s view outlined in the ‘Federalist Papers,’ Congress holds this power for the very reason that it is closer to the people. Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story noted in 1833 that if this authority were given to the president, ‘the executive would possess an unbounded power over the public purse of the nation; and might apply all its resources at his pleasure.’”
Those comments were in prepared remarks recently released by Inhofe.
He claims the power has been ceded to the president by agreeing to ban earmarks.
Inhofe said the improvements at Vance Air Force Base have been obtained through earmarks.
In the fiscal year 2010, Inhofe secured $10.7 million in the MILCON appropriations bill for a new control tower at Vance.
Other recent improvements for Vance have included:
• 2009: $3 million for taxiway repairs
• 2008: $7.7 million for a fuel system maintenance hangar
• 2008: $15 million for an Armed Forces Reserve Center at Vance
For Enid in general:
• 2010: $300,000 for Enid’s Wastewater Treatment Plant
• 2008: $340,000 for Cherokee Strip Regional Heritage Center for renovation and construction
Enid Woodring Regional Airport improvements include:
• 66th Street improvement, IRP grant of $400,000, $200,000 from city and airport funds and $50,000 from local business
• Foreign Trade Zone Application final form
• Runway 13/31 and taxiways micro-surfacing via the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission Grant to fill cracks and install new surface joint use city hangar at the airport
However, amid all the discussion of spending, Inhofe, who is considered one of the leading conservatives in the Senate, also is calling for fiscal restraint. He said America has a debt problem which probably is worse than most people think.
He recalled how appalled he was in 1996 when then-President Bill Clinton presented a $1.5 trillion annual budget to operate the United States.
“Today, that $1.5 trillion is just the deficit,” Inhofe said. “In all my years of public service, I’ve never been more concerned about our country’s future than I am now.”
He also is working to pass legislation to take the authority away from Environmental Protection Agency to regulate greenhouse gases. That will be in the fiscal 2012 session.
Inhofe said agriculture producers complain most about over-regulation and the main problems for agriculture occur through regulation by the EPA.
However, Inhofe thinks the problems will begin to be solved after the 2012 election when he believes Republicans firmly will control the Senate as they now control the House of Representatives. He also believes there is a war against fossil fuels by Obama and the “far left.”
“You can’t run America without fossil fuels. We can explore other forms, but America has the largest recoverable fossil fuel reserves of any nation,” he said.