Path Home Shows 2015 Show Archive July 2015 Show 1530 James Lankford - Economic Issues

James Lankford - Economic Issues

Sen. James Lankford says the United States needs to be able to export crude oil.
James Lankford - Economic Issues

James Lankford - Economic Issues

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James Lankford

U.S. Senator for Oklahoma

Show Details

Show 1530: James Lankford - Economic Issues
Air Date: July 26, 2015



Rob McClendon: Well, one of the most common criticisms of small government conservatives like Sen. Lankford is that as much as they criticize government, they sure like being a part of it. So I asked the senator: What role should government play in all our lives?

James Lankford: Yeah, I’m not anti-government. I’ve had some folks say, “You’re against all regulations and everything in government.” I’m not anti-government, in fact, I’m in the government at this point. I’m an American citizen that has stepped out of my private life into a public life because I think there is a role for government. But the question is, is there, there’s a limited role bound by the Constitution that’s clearly articulated. There are things that the government should do and then not do. But there’s also responsibility of local governments, whether they be state or local governments. The first question to ask is, “Is this a regulation that should exist at all?” And the second question is, “Who should do this regulation? Should it be a state or a local, municipality? Or should this be a federal role?” And so that’s, that’s where I’m constantly pushing with my peers. There are a lot of really smart people in D.C., and they know they’re really smart. And they’ve collected these folks from all over the country, and so they come up with a smart idea and think we should impose this on everyone in the country. That’s where I break with them and say, “You may be a really smart person. Share that idea with lots of folks around the country and let the local folks make the decision by how they’re gonna do it. Don’t impose that on people.” Now, at the same time, there is interstate commerce. There are banking rules that need to be there. There are basic rules about how we’re gonna do interstate commerce. That is a reasonable federal role. For any of those regulations that are there that are clearly defined by the Constitution that need to be there, let’s do it, let’s do it well and let’s leave ’em alone. The more you tweak those regulations all the time, the more business is uncertain about how to plan, how to prepare, how to do capital investments, how to hire, because they don’t know what to prepare for. If they don’t know what the regulation’s gonna be two years from now, they can’t start planning for a regulation coming that they don’t know what exists. And so it slows business down, and it slows our economy down.

Rob: And when it comes to education Lankford takes a similar position that the best rules and regulations are those made by the states.

Male Voice: You know, poor people, the federal government and state government, local government, it should be around transparency, and I think this is a massive play around transparency.

Lankford: Which has traditionally been the state responsibility that oversees the state colleges, if you take education for instance. There is a role in education that is clear that deals with Indian tribes and for Native American children and then those children that are on military bases. That’s clear as far as a constitutional role. You leave that, and you’re on very shaky ground. Really the Department of Education nationally is a way to be able to gather ideas from around the country and be able to disseminate ideas but not to impose those things. That’s not their role. The best place to be able to make decisions for the child is actually, of course in the family, No. 1, and local areas and within the state. That’s the clear jurisdiction to be able to do that. And so I’m constantly raising the question, “Is this our role and how do we get to the spot to make the best, most agile decisions for that child and for that family?” I want states to compete, and the way you have states compete is that they’re all competing for educational standards, and they’re trying to improve what’s happening. We have some states that are doing a fantastic job. But the implication is to find a state that’s doing a good job and then impose that on every other state. It doesn’t work that way. Hawaii, Alaska, Ohio, Florida and Oklahoma are all very different. Allow them to compete, even in their differences.

Rob McClendon: A preference for local control that can be seen in Lankford’s approach on both social and regulatory issues.

Lankford: I have a simple amendment to the Trade Promotion Authority.

Rob: Yet the senator recognizes there are things from defense to trade that the states can’t go it alone on. Case in point, the bipartisan effort to end the ban on exports of U.S. crude oil. Energy is such a vital industry for Oklahoma, Texas, and especially in recent years, the oil export ban that’s being debated, talked about right now.

Lankford: Yeah, it’s fascinating me. I’m very much in the thick of the oil export ban conversation. Right now the president’s actually working with Iran to lift their sanctions of oil being sold worldwide, but we still have a block in the United States to be able to sell our oil worldwide. We need to be able to lift that. We can sell gasoline. We can sell diesel fuel. We can sell coal. We can sell natural gas. But we can’t sell crude oil. It makes no sense. Americans understand, especially those of us in Oklahoma, we understand full well, crude oil is not crude oil, it’s not all the same. Now, you may have heavy crude or you may have what’s called light sweet crude. Most of the new finds in America over the last several years have been light sweet. Our refineries are set up for heavy. So who is set up for light sweet? Europe is, Mexico is, multiple other places. We literally, Cushing, Okla., its storage units are full of light sweet that we cannot use in America right now to refine because we have too much of it. So let’s put it on the world market. It helps our jobs. We’ve lost over 100,000 jobs in the last years just in the energy sector because of the change in the price. It’ll help our job growth. It’ll help our geopolitical balance. Right now a lot of those entities around the world are getting their oil from Russia. They would much prefer to get it from us, and we would much prefer to be able to sell to them than the Russians.

Rob: And while Lankford’s free market beliefs are evident in his approach to trade, so are his religious convictions.

Lankford: Mr. President, the trade agreement’s about a set of values and beliefs.

Rob: Seeing social causes in areas that others may view as purely economic.

Lankford: Let’s start exporting the values that we hold dear. Not to compel other nations to have our faith, but to have other nations to recognize the power of the freedom of religion within their own border.

Rob: Speaking before the U.S. Senate, Lankford made the case to tie a country’s religious liberty to our trade status with them.

Lankford: It’s not complicated. It’s a simple encouragement, and it’s a step towards us exporting our value. I ask for the support of this body as we consider our greatest export – freedom.

Rob: And it is such positions that make Mr. Lankford certainly a unique voice in the U.S. Senate. Now, when we return, I ask the senator about two positions the Supreme Court has recently ruled on, Obamacare and marital equality.