In the past, Gov. Mary Fallin has depicted herself as an anti-government advocate who shares concerns with right-wing Tea Party members, but that hasn’t stopped her from relying on the feds to come to the state’s rescue in emergencies.
It also hasn’t stopped her from complaining when the federal government doesn’t come through with help. Here’s how Fallin responded when the federal government recently denied disaster assistance to Oklahoma for damage caused by the November earthquakes, including one that measured 5.6:
After receiving five presidential disaster declarations in one year, including snow storms, tornadoes and flooding events, Oklahomans and the voluntary agencies that are often called upon to assist them have been pushed to the limits. We felt the case for additional assistance had been made.
Note the reference to the “five presidential disaster declarations in one year.” Obviously, Oklahoma, which has been described as a state that receives far more money from the federal government than it pays in taxes, has been getting a good deal. It’s hard to imagine what the state would be like without federal assistance after all our severe weather events in recent years.
As I wrote last February, Oklahoma ranks just below California and Texas in declared disasters by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Of course, Oklahoma’s land size and population are significantly smaller than the two states that lead the list
Fallin, as you may remember, once waved a “Don’t Treat on Me” flag from U.S. House chamber balcony when she served as a representative. The flag has become a symbol of the Tea Party. In keeping with her political ideology, Fallin also rejected money from the federal government to create a health insurance exchange as mandated by the Affordable Care Act.
But when it comes to accepting aid for the state’s never-ending weather-related disasters, Fallin apparently has no qualms. Obviously, the state needs consistent help from the federal government to stay viable, and it’s a shame Oklahoma didn’t get a disaster declaration for the earthquakes, but Fallin contradicts her anti-federal government stance every time she asks the feds for money.
Fallin points out that “Oklahomans and the voluntary agencies . . . have been pushed to the limit,” which is true, but you’ll never hear her praise a government system in which wealthier, more populated states assure Oklahoma’s viability through tax dollars.
It raises the paradoxical question: How can you expect money from a government system you criticize for spending too much money?
Another thing you’ll never hear from Fallin is a thorough discussion about the effect of climate change on the state’s erratic and dangerous weather or how hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, by energy companies might contribute to the recent rise in earthquakes.
To her credit, Fallin has toned down some of her political rhetoric since her gubernatorial campaign, but who doubts she’ll start using her anti-government hyperbole if she decides to run for reelection?