No one issue defines the difference between the state’s candidates for U.S. Senator this year more than how they approach the current health care crisis.
U.S. Sen. Inhofe, 73, has long been part of a federal legislative system that rewards insurance companies and health management organizations at the expense of ordinary Americans. Millions of Americans lack health insurance. Those Americans who have insurance face skyrocketing premiums, increased costs of co-payments and issues like “pre-existing” conditions. People often go without health care to pay other bills. Inhofe has sanctioned the current health care crisis with his votes, his lack of interest and Republican ideology.
State Sen. Andrew Rice, 35, the Democrat running against Inhofe, has proven he believes in a better health care system for Americans. We have seen this in his sponsorship and support of bills to require insurance companies to cover routine medial care for those undergoing clinical trials and medical costs associated with autism. We also know he has promised in his campaign repeatedly to use his position as U.S. Senator to work for an overall better health care system for Americans.
“"Every family, every child and every veteran should have access to the same health care options that taxpayers make available to members of Congress," Rice said recently. This is one of the great moral issues of our time."
It is hard to conceive of a person or voter—besides a very radical fringe of our culture—who truly does not see the current health care crisis as a moral issue. Certainly, there is room to argue over the exact approach to solving the health care crisis, but can any rational person believe the insurance companies will voluntary accept lower profits to help people? Our broken system calls for government intervention. The government intervenes if someone kills or physically hurts another person. This same intervention should apply to our health system. Even an increasing number of doctors in this country—some claim a clear majority—now believe we should have some type of universal health care program.
"Health insurance companies decline coverage for what they call 'pre-existing conditions,' and they retroactively deny treatment that has been 'pre-approved' to stick patients and doctors with the bill for treatment they had been told would be covered," Rice said. "In addition to providing all Oklahomans health insurance, I will stand up against insurance companies to ensure we have a Patient's Bill of Rights."
Inhofe, meanwhile, has consistently sided with insurance companies over ordinary Americans. He has voted 17 times against Medicare since 1995, according to Rice in earlier statement. Rice has also pointed out the Senator has accepted $342,166 in campaign donations from the insurance industry as well.
Most of those Oklahomans who support Inhofe in his reelection bid literally do so at the risk of their own health and the health of their children and grandchildren.
U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, world famous for his controversial remarks about global warming, faces more problems in his reelection campaign than just low Republican voter turnout.
The 73-year-old Senator may face serious questions about his role in events leading to an ongoing lawsuit against Oral Roberts University in Tulsa and the resignation of the university’s former president, Richard Roberts.
Inhofe, along with U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn, were recently listed as possible witnesses in the lawsuit brought by Tim and Paulita Brooker. The Brookers claim in the lawsuit that Roberts forced Tim Brooker’s ORU government class to help get Randi Miller elected as Tulsa mayor in 2006. This action, if true, could call into question the college’s nonprofit status.
Inhofe urged Miller, who lost the election and currently serves as a Tulsa County Commissioner, to run for mayor, according to The Tulsa World. Internal university emails, obtained by the newspaper, also show Roberts was urged by his sister-in-law Stephanie Cantees to thank Inhofe for assisting the university.
"Might want to in your thank you to Inhofe for his assistance in helping encourage usage of city plex for fema and any govt office," the email states. CityPLex, owned by the university, is an office building. Apparently the university sought Inhofe’s help in encouraging government agencies to rent space at CityPlex, according to the email.
Roberts, the son of televangelist Oral Roberts, was heavily criticized for his lavish lifestyle and administration of the university before he resigned.
It is unclear what Coburn’s testimony would reveal about his own relationship with the university. Several other notable people, including Miller, former Tulsa Mayor Bill LaFortune and former U.S. Reps. Bob Beauprez (Colorado) and James Traficant (Ohio) were also listed as witnesses.
The lawsuit, Miller’s public comments about Inhofe and how ORU students helped in her campaign and the email raise serious questions about Inhofe’s relationship with the beleaguered college.
Did Inhofe encourage the college to violate IRS rules about the political activities of nonprofit organizations? Did Inhofe seek out special favors for the college as it knowingly violated IRS rules?
Inhofe, who has embarrassed the state repeatedly with his bizarre comments that global warming is a political “hoax,” won Tuesday’s Republican primary. But low Republican voter turnout Tuesday—compared to the Democratic turnout—probably shows state voters lack enthusiasm for GOP candidates this year up and down the ticket, and that includes Inhofe. State Sen. Andrew Rice won the Democratic primary Tuesday handily but, according to conservative pundits, by-a-less-than-expected margin. He still faces a difficult battle against Inhofe, who has more campaign money.
John Wylie, pubisher of the Oologah Lake Leader, a newspaper located in the eastern part of the state, editorialized about Inhofe and the ORU controversy last November:
The heart of this scandal has never been Lindsay Roberts’ personal life or whether the Roberts enjoyed a lavish lifestyle at university expense while it careened towards financial ruin.
It is about the state and federal felonies of tax fraud, mail fraud, wire fraud, violations of the RICO statutes and obstruction of justice.
Inhofe is almost certain to be deposed as civil and perhaps criminal probes move forward.
“What did you know and when did you know it?” are not questions any politician seeking reelection wants to answer under oath.
Let us hope Oklahoma County Commissioner Brent Rinehart’s loss in Tuesday’s primary election signals a new distaste among some Republican voters here for the state’s motley crew of gay-bashing politicians.
Rinehart, a Republican who represents District 2, was only able to collect 21 percent of the vote Tuesday. His opponents, Brian Maughan, who received 47 percent of the vote, and J.D. Johnston, who received 31 percent of the vote, will face each other in an upcoming Republican runoff.
Rinehart, pictured right, recently made national headlines when he self-published a comic book that disparaged gay people and attacked Oklahoma County Sheriff John Whetsel, Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson, and Oklahoma Corporation Commissioner Jim Roth, a former county commissioner who happens to be gay. Rinehart appeared on national television shows defending his freaky comic book after a public outcry. His anti-gay tirade and appearances on the shows embarrassed the state.
The commissioner’s comic book, crudely drawn and poorly written, promotes a politics of hate, intolerance and scapegoating, echoing a political tradition of gay bashing in the state. Politicians such as State Rep. Sally Kern and U.S. Sens. Jim Inhofe and Tom Coburn, all Republicans, have also participated in disparaging gay people and the so-called, mythical “homosexual agenda” as way to misinform voters and win votes.
Does Rinehart’s poor performance in the primary election mean that a growing number of Republican voters are tired of the politics of gay hate and bigotry? Obviously, Rinehart had other problems going into the election. He faces a trial in September on felony charges that allege he illegally funded his 2004 campaign. But it is encouraging that Republicans did not rally around the gay-bashing Rinehart as they did when Kern was taped arguing that gay people are worse than terrorists. Change in cultural attitudes often comes slow in Oklahoma, but it does eventually arrive.