Yesterday the US Census Bureau report revealed a grim picture for Oklahomans – a jump in the poverty rate, and one of the highest percentages of uninsured people in the nation.
According to the Tulsa World
, roughly 50,000 people in Oklahoma
have fallen into poverty just in the last two years and one fifth of the population has no health insurance.
Despite this bleak outlook, Jim Inhofe, the senior senator from Oklahoma
, continues to work for his corporate donors rather than his constituents, passing tax cuts for the wealthy while refusing to fund economic and health programs that benefit the average worker.
Even as 457,000 Oklahomans live in poverty, Inhofe repeatedly refuses to raise the minimum wage, further exacerbating the problem. (Senate Roll Call Vote 179, 6/21/06; Senate Roll Call Vote 257, 10/19/05; Senate Roll Call Vote 26, 3/7/05) In the past year alone, Inhofe has consistently voted against increasing or maintaining funding for the Community Development Block Grant Program, including one vote that would have eliminated certain tax breaks for top earners in America. (Senate Roll Call Vote 43, 3/15/06; Senate Roll Call Vote 348, 11/18/05; Senate Roll Call Vote 246, 9/30/05) This federal program provides money to states for community development programs such as expanding economic opportunities for low income earners and providing decent housing. (US Department of Housing and Urban Development)
Jim Inhofe seems unaffected by the fact that the Oklahoma poverty rate has now surpassed the national rate, or that as the national median income rose, the Oklahoma median fell. No, he’s more interested in helping out his rich friends that keep him in office. Inhofe voted to permanently repeal the estate tax, which only benefits a small number of the nation’s top earners. (Senate Roll Call Vote 164, 6/8/06) He also supported an extension of the dividends and capital gains tax cuts for the benefit of the wealthiest Americans. (Senate Roll Call Vote 17, 2/14/06)
The Census report also showed that Oklahoma has the 4th highest number of residents without health insurance, behind only Florida, Texas, and New Mexico. In Oklahoma, one in five are uninsured. Yet Jim Inhofe has done nothing to ease this situation, on the contrary, he has made it worse. Inhofe voted to extend the dividends and capital gains tax cuts for the rich over funding the State Children’s Health Insurance Program. (Senate Roll Call Vote 337, 11/17/05) He also voted against increased funding for the military health care program, TRICARE, spending that would have been offset by eliminating certain tax breaks for the wealthy. (Senate Roll Call Vote 67, 3/17/06)
Perhaps worst of all, - Inhofe was one of only two senators to oppose the Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations bill, which among other things, provides funding for certain Medicaid and Medicare programs, and for Social Security. (Senate Roll Call Vote 281, 10/27/05)
This isn’t what Oklahomans deserve, a Senator who’s too busy calling environmental activists Nazis, holding up important security bills, and grossly mischaracterizing the situation in Iraq to respond to the needs of those he is most responsible for. Inhofe’s record speaks for itself. If you can cough up the money, he’ll do whatever you ask. If not, you’re on your own…