Path Home Shows 2015 Show Archive July 2015 Show 1530 James Lankford - Recent Supreme Court Rulings

James Lankford - Recent Supreme Court Rulings

Oklahoma’s newest U.S. senator reflects on recent Supreme Court rulings with which he disagrees.
James Lankford - Recent Supreme Court Rulings

James Lankford - Recent Supreme Court Rulings

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James Lankford

U.S. Senator for Oklahoma

Show Details

Show 1530: James Lankford - Recent Supreme Court Rulings
Air Date: July 26, 2015



Rob McClendon: Well, since its passage in 2010 the Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as Obamacare, has been the bane of most republicans’ existence. So it’s no surprise that the conservative Senator opposes it. Just days before the Supreme Court was set to rule on its latest challenge, Lankford spoke on the Senate floor.

James Lankford: People in my state distinctly heard people say five years ago, if you like your health care you can keep it, except for the people who were forced off the state run exchange that already existed in Oklahoma and were pushed out. Obamacare that’s five years old came after Insure Oklahoma, which is 10 years old. We as a state had already made determinations – how are we gonna help those that are in poverty, how are we gonna help those that are trying to work out of very difficult circumstances and still have that health care around them? So we were ahead of the curve in many ways, and there were several other states who were experimenting with things, Utah, Tennessee, multiple other states were also experimenting ways to be able to provide health care in their states to those folks that really needed that kind of backup. That’s a positive thing to see – that type of experimentation. The challenge is, now with the Affordable Act, Health Care Act coming in, it took all those things away in all those different states. So now we have a mess. Its 2,700 pages that was very hastily written, and we’re finding all kinds of errors that are within the text, and the administration is trying to piece it together.

Rob: But whether a mess our not, Supreme Court justices ruled in June that the federal government can provide nationwide subsidies to help poor and middle class people to buy health insurance. The ruling, a blow to Republicans who had been trying to gut the law ever since it was enacted, so with fading hope of repealing the legislation, some Republicans are changing their focus to making the “Affordable Care Act” more affordable.

Lankford: Except for the people who have higher deductibles in my state, except for the people who now have higher premiums in my state. In Oklahoma, this year, the requested rate increase for health care is between 11 and 45 percent depending on the plan and the county that you live in.

Rob: Do you believe we will ever go back to the day of having a large part of our citizenry unable to get any type of affordable health care?

Lankford: What’s interesting is, even on the Affordable Health Care Act right now, 30 million Americans do not have health care coverage. And that’s been the assumed process with this – that they’ll always be this percentage that will be within the gaps, even in the president’s plan. So the challenge is how do we help people in that? How do we help people take responsibility for their own family? At the moment that we as a government step in and say, “We’re gonna provide everything for you, you don’t have to take responsibility, you don’t have to take actions,” the moment people sit back and they don’t engage, then the economy slows down. There is something unique about our free market system that we encourage people to take responsibility for their own family, their own lives, and that actually engages people to work. So for instance, a tax incentive to actually go get health care to say, “You’re in a position that right now you can afford to do this, so I can provide a tax incentive to help you get to that spot. That as you financially grow you don’t need that anymore and you’re able to be out of it.” The poor in our society don’t always stay poor. We’re not like India and other places in a caste system. That number changes and goes back and forth. And for those folks that are in transition, there may be a need always to be able to help people. But then the decision is, who’s the best place to determine what that need is and how to respond to that? Is it a state or is that a federal government? I would say it’s a state that’s in the best position to handle that. They’re the closest to the individual, they see the need, they work for the county hospitals, they work with the community health centers that are excellent all around our state, they work with local hospitals, they understand the need and the issues and how to resolve those better than what someone does 1,100 miles away.

Rob: Lankford also finds himself at odds with another Supreme Court ruling that essentially tells states that they can no longer dictate who can marry who.

Lankford: As an American citizen, every person has equal rights. Every person has equal protection under the law. The grand challenge is, the challenge that we have as a nation right now is, how do you define the word marriage? Marriage for millennia has been defined as one man and one woman among multiple cultures, of many cultures. Even the president just three years ago defined marriage as between one woman and one man. Now, there’s been a lot of people in culture say, “Look, let’s open that definition up.” The challenge is, how do you best address that? To address the protection of an individual within our country, but not redefining an institution that’s pre-existed, that’s existed for millennia. As a state, in Oklahoma, 74 percent of the people in our state voted and said, “No, I want to keep marriage as a traditional definition of marriage.” They don’t want to dishonor people in that. If people want to make a contract for relationships for how they’re gonna inherit, how they’re gonna visitation, those can be done with another contract – to not redefine marriage in the process as well. So it’s not trying to take away something from someone, it’s trying to say this is how this has always been defined among multiple cultures and multiple nations for multiple centuries. It’s not adding something to it, it’s actually taking something away and changing something that has always existed.

Rob: Sen. James Lankford, thank you so much.

Lankford: You bet.

Rob: Now, if you’d like to hear more from Sen. Lankford, I do have a link to his commencement address he gave to the 2015 graduating class of Oklahoma State University. And as painful as some commencement addresses can get, Sen. Lankford’s contains some true words of wisdom. Now, to see that just head to and look for it under our value added section.