Gov. Mary Fallin of Oklahoma is concerned that looming repercussions from Obama economics will do great harm to her state, draining thousands of jobs and wreaking havoc on budgets, she told Newsmax.TV in an exclusive interview.
Fallin, a Republican who became the Sooner State’s first female governor in 2011, said a new round of defense budget reductions next year will hit her state particularly hard. Oklahoma has three Air Force bases, an Army post and an Army ammunition depot.
Fallin said her state’s economy is strong, but the proposed $500 billion across-the-board cuts would have a “huge detrimental effect to our military, to the aerospace defense industry, cost us possibly up to 16,000 jobs, certainly have a big impact upon our state budget and big impact upon our economy. So Congress needs to take this issue very seriously.”
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The former congresswoman said she hopes Congress will extend the Bush tax cuts. Expiration of those cuts — together with the defense cuts and Obamacare on the horizon — will have detrimental effect on family budgets, she said.
“You’ve got a lot of tax increases that will be hitting the American public, certainly Oklahomans, and it’s going to be a big detriment to certainly family budgets, to our state itself and its citizens and it’s not good,” Fallin said.
“I hope that Congress will extend the Bush tax cuts. We certainly don’t want our small-business owners being affected by tax increases, especially at a time when Oklahoma’s starting to recover and is doing pretty good right now.”
The cuts to the military, in particular, concern Fallin.
The Pentagon has said that unless Congress acts to change the law, it will have to implement the cuts on Jan. 2, slashing all programs to hit reduction targets, regardless of strategic need.
The cuts would come at a time when the Defense Department already is reducing projected spending by $487 billion over 10 years as required by the Budget Control Act passed by Congress last year. The act was an attempt to curb the government's trillion-dollar deficits.
“The military defense cuts that have been suggested the sequestration is certainly a huge concern to all the governors,” she said. “I had the opportunity to be at the National Governors (Association) meeting over a week ago, and it is something that is on all of our governors’ radars — certainly the potential jobs loss, the economic impact, the revenue loss they would have. And not to mention just the damage it would do to our national defense, our military, at a time when our nation is seeing military cutbacks already over the years.”
With Oklahoma’s unemployment rate at just 4.7 percent compared to the national rate of 8.2 percent, Fallin said President Barack Obama “should look to the states, look to governors who have practiced what we believe in, and that is limited government, conservative fiscal policies, right-sizing state government itself and doing things that will create a business environment which helps create wealth in our local economies.”
The president should look at Oklahoma’s policies and the “policies that we’ve implemented in our state to keep taxes low on businesses, to prioritize our spending, to be able to reform many of our government programs to save taxpayers money and, certainly, to be there to support important industries, reforming education, building a stronger workforce. Those are all things that we’ve done in Oklahoma," she said.
The state has also seen great revenue growth, Fallin added.
Fallin wouldn’t say if she would implement Obama’s healthcare plan, which could mean a $500 billion tax increase on Americans, but called the law unaffordable and unworkable. As a member of Congress she voted against it, and as governor she sued to block implementation, saying it was “unconstitutional and shouldn’t be forced down upon our states.”
She’s also concerned about the law's Medicaid expansion, “although, we’ve been given a little bit of breathing room by the Supreme Court" on whether states must provide the additional Medicaid funding.
“But it’s a serious issue when the federal government tries to find a one-size-fits-all policy for healthcare and our nation,” she said. “Our state has some great, innovative solutions to provide better access to healthcare and certainly ways to help work on lowering costs of healthcare access. So we’re very concerned about the federal healthcare bill and what it’s going to do to Oklahoma and especially to our state budget.”
Turning to energy, Fallin said the industry is booming in her state, and Obama should not further delay approval of the Keystone XL pipeline. Obama has failed to give the green light to the $7 billion, 2,000-mle pipeline — from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico — and after rejecting it earlier this year. He invited TransCanada to reapply once the Calgary-based company rerouted the project around a crucial aquifer in Nebraska.
Oklahoma is the nation's third-largest producer of natural gas, fifth-largest producer of crude oil, and has the second-greatest number of active drilling rigs.
“The energy sector is one of those sectors that I believe he needs to listen to in our state,” she said of the president. “We certainly support the Keystone pipeline. We’re thrilled the Keystone pipeline will be coming from Oklahoma and pushing down to the Gulf Coast, and we know that’s going to create jobs, certainly going to help with delivering energy in our state and across the nation.
"So I’m hoping the president will change his mind, reverse his course, and implement the Keystone pipeline throughout the United States.”
Fallin and other governors have joined to push automakers to build cars that run on natural gas. That, too, would create jobs and revenue, she said.
The push, called the CNG initiative, would take advantage of natural gas as “a cleaner form of energy, an abundant source of American-made energy,” she said, by states purchasing the cars for their government fleets.
“It will certainly be a good way to create a market demand for CNG use in our nation, help with the infrastructure development, and is good public policy,” Fallin said. “And you see both Republicans and Democrat governors who are coming together on this initiative and taking it on themselves to find a solution to an issue, and that is our dependence on foreign oil and being able to create American jobs and utilize American-made energy. “
Fallin said she is concerned that Obama’s policies intrude on states’ rights and that Mitt Romney will take the country in the right direction.
“I think Gov. Romney has the right experience,” she said. “He is proven as a leader, as a businessman. He’s a great family man. He has taken some tough situations in the business world, and even with the Olympics, and been able to turn things around, to be able to get things going in the right direction. He is a man of strength, of character. He is a good, hard-working person and I think he will make a great president for our nation.”
She said Obama “believes the government is the answer to all the problems vs. letting the private sector innovate, create, letting states and citizens in those states be able to provide solutions to challenges facing our nation.
"I just believe Gov. Romney will take the United States in the right direction, get us right on track from the economic woes that we’ve been experiencing and certainly get Washington in its proper role and its proper place.”
Fallin, who has been mentioned a potential vice presidential candidate, hopes Romney, if elected, would focus on the economy and “keeping government in its proper role and its proper place and not allow what we’ve seen coming out of Washington — kind of the federal overreach of unfunded mandates into our states and one-size-fits-all solutions to some of the issues facing our nation.”
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