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(In the coming weeks, Blue Oklahoma and Okie Funk will set the record straight when it comes to U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe. This blog will be publishing an open-ended series, “The Case Against Jim Inhofe.” The series will comment on Inhofe’s political and business escapades, from his earlier lies about when he graduated from college to the insurance company he ran into insolvency to his dirty campaign tactics. It will show how Inhofe has consistently hurt the state’s image. It will focus as well on Inhofe’s atrocious record on economic, health, energy, environmental, military and government spending issues. Here are the installments published before this post: Part I: “Rice Gains Ground on Inhofe,” Part II: “Character Issue Follows Inhofe,” Part III: “When Inhofe Talks, People Cringe,” Part IV: “Iraq Distortions Cast Shadow Over Inhofe Campaign,” Part V: Can Voters Trust GOP, Inhofe With Social Security, Health Care.”)
Is there another longtime Washington insider more pro-big business and with more ties to the financial industry and energy corporations than U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe?
It is not a stretch to claim that taken together-Inhofe’s staunch right-wing view that big businesses should dictate government policy and the $1.3 million he has reportedly received from Wall Street-these two aspects of Inhofe’s political career clearly show and symbolize how the current financial crisis was created. Big businesses give money to our politicians who then allow them to essentially non-regulate themselves.
Inhofe is not the only Washington politician to lose touch with the vast majority of people he represents, but he may well be the most obvious.
As the stock market declines, the financial crisis especially hurts people near or at retirement age, though the entire fallout will surely be much worse as more jobs and homes are lost.
The crisis has most Inhofe critics, most notably his election opponent state Sen. Andrew Rice, 35, claiming the Senator has his priorities wrong. What about the middle-class people in Oklahoma? Who will speak up for their retirement? At 73, Inhofe could retire right now with a decent government pension and great health insurance. So why would he care about your retirement, right? With his narrow concerns refuting the science of global warming, your retirement is not even in Inhofe’s frame of reference.
This is not the first time Inhofe has faced such questions about priorities.
In 2002, Inhofe was criticized for supporting legislation that weakened the accountability of auditors after accepting $19,500 in campaign contributions from the accounting industry, according to a news report. In his campaign against Inhofe, former Oklahoma Gov. David Walters argued that Inhofe’s action’s had given accounting firms a “form of immunity,” which led to the Enron and WorldCom debacles, the report stated.
This is from an Associated Press story, “Walters hits Inhofe in donations, legislation,” written by Ron Jenkins and published on July 24, 2002:
Walters said Inhofe signed on as sponsor of the securities act on Feb. 1, 1995, and received $19,500 in contributions from the accounting industry before the bill became law when Inhofe joined in the override of a presidential veto. Some of the donations were from Arthur Anderson, the accounting firm associated with the WorldCom and Enron scandals.
The timing of the contributions, Walters said, was “very suspicious in absence of a strong explanation”from Inhofe.
“Oklahomans have the right to hear Jim Inhofe explain why he inserted himself as a co-sponsor of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act, although he was not a member of the Banking Committee and no major accounting firms are headquartered in Oklahoma,” he continued. “Could it have been because of the huge sums of money he received from the accounting industry as the bill moved through the Senate?”
Walters said the 1995 legislation weakened the hand of the Securities Exchange Commission and gave accounting firms a degree of immunity.
He said Inhofe has yet to back tough legislation to remove problems that led to the WorldCom scandal.
He said Inhofe has a moral obligation to explain his actions to the 3,000 WorldCom employees in Tulsa and the thousands of Oklahoma teachers whose retirement fund lost $17 million because of the company’s collapse.
Inhofe, after weakening accounting rules, later supported President George Bush’s push to “reform” Social Security by allowing for personal accounts, which would be conceivably tied to the stock market (Jim Meyers, “State delegation assesses the address,” Tulsa World, February 3, 2005).
Can you imagine if Social Security accounts were directly tied to the recent fallout of Wall Street greed?
The nation’s current financial crisis can be directly attributed to the over-reaching philosophy that the free market can do no wrong, a philosophy embraced by President George Bush and GOP cronies like Inhofe.
Rice has questioned Inhofe’s inaction and lack of concern for ordinary Oklahomans as the financial crisis deepens to proportions resembling the Great Depression.
In his recent debate against Inhofe, Rice said, “An era allowed this to happen. George Bush came into office eight years ago with a Republican majority and … an agenda of radical deregulation.” Inhofe has consistently supported Bush’s policies.
A recent Washington Post article quoted economics expert Joseph Stliglitz on how the Bush/Inhofe era has affected America’s reputation:
“People around the world once admired us for our economy, and we told them if you wanted to be like us, here’s what you have to do — hand over power to the market,” said Joseph Stiglitz, the Nobel Prize-winning economist at Columbia University. “The point now is that no one has respect for that kind of model anymore given this crisis. And of course it raises questions about our credibility. Everyone feels they are suffering now because of us.”