By Robby Short
U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe made an impromptu visit to Ardmore Friday for a surprise luncheon with local civic and business leadership while touring flood ravaged parts of the state.
During lunch Inhofe gave updates on economic progress at the national level.
“We have arguably the best economy in my lifetime,” the 84-year-old Inhofe said citing low unemployment numbers and recent increases in domestic exports of petroleum, coal and natural gas.
Inhofe credited President Donald Trump’s $1.5 trillion tax cuts in 2017 and overall efforts in deregulating the energy sector along with changes to leadership at the Environmental Protection Agency in spurring continued growth.
“By the way, that (tax cuts) was not a Republican idea. That was John Kennedy,” Inhofe said. “We needed more money for the great society programs, and the best way to increase revenues is to reduce marginal rates. You don’t remember this, but I do. The first reduction he made was from 91 percent in the top bracket to 70 percent.”
The 2017 tax cut resulted in the largest monthly budget deficit in US history in February, according to the Washington Post, due largely to lagging revenues and soaring spending, while unemployment numbers continue to trend toward historically low numbers. The Wall Street Journal reported US
revenues in 2018 declined by .4 percent.
The 1964 tax cuts — proposed by Kennedy who was assassinated before the legislation would pass — were later taken up by President Lyndon Johnson and had the effect of lowering unemployment. The cuts also led to an increase in revenues due in part to social programs implemented under Johnson which included Medicare, according to historical reviews of the period.
Inhofe said that despite the increase in the national deficit, overspending was still a concern for most “deficit hawks,’ but that those concerns were placated by their perceived need to increase military spending, at least in the short term.
“We started off with the break (tax cut), which in itself has done a lot for the economy,” Inhofe said. “But the one thing he (Trump) did that Kennedy didn’t do, that (Ronald) Reagan didn’t do, that (George) Bush didn’t do, is attack the overregulation.”
Inhofe recounted his experience as the chairman of the Environment and Public Works committee and praised the change in leadership at the EPA and its new administer Andrew Wheeler, a former coal lobbyist and chief council to Inholf’s Environment and Public Works Committee.
“We now have 17 of the top people in the EPA that used to work for me,” Inhofe said. “It’s a totally different EPA.”
Wheeler replaced former Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt in the post.
“When (Barrack) Obama came along, he liked overregulation, liberals like overregulation,” Inhofe said. “So when he (Obama) got in, he tried to get all these regulations that were damaging the economy… He had a war on fossil fuels.”
Inhofe cited reduced regulations in the energy sector as a current factor in the country’s economic growth, including significant increases in net exports of petroleum, coal and natural gas.
“The things (Trump has) done for the military is the most significant thing to me,” Inhofe said. “On the military, we allowed ourselves to be put in a situation, not just by the Obama administration but before that, where we are not number one in anything anymore.”
Inhofe cited advancement made by China and Russia in hypersonic technology, adding and “in many other sectors.”
Allocations for military spending increased by about $165 billion under President Trump, inching the total close to $750 billion, more than double the combined reported military spending of Russia and China.
“That bill is putting America back in the front,” Inhofe said. “We are not there yet, but if we can survive in the meantime, people don’t realize what Russia and China are doing. For the first time in the history of China, they have created a military presence outside of their city limits. Now they are all over the south China Sea and Northern Africa.”
Inhofe cited North Korea’s nuclear capabilities as another threat currently facing America.