Every American knows that our nation is deeply in debt. We currently owe over $28 trillion dollars and our future liabilities exceed $71 trillion. And the number continues to climb as Biden and his administration continue to spend and grow government.
After the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, tax receipts rose to the highest ever. People made more money and more people were employed, so there was more tax income. Our problem isn’t whether or not Americans are being taxed enough. In fact, most would argue they’re being taxed too much. The problem is there are still billions of hardworking taxpayer’s dollars wasted in unnecessary programs and horrible financial management by the federal government. The 2020 COVID pandemic wrecked the growing economy and doubled federal expenses for the year, dramatically increasing the debt. We cannot pretend that there is no cost to our economic future.
The budget process in DC is a mess, with continuing resolutions, budget gimmicks, government shutdowns and debt ceiling votes there is no plan to ever get back to balance. There is no quick fix, but there must be a plan to get our nation back to balance. High debt slows down the current economy and it will hurt the economic future of the nation. Our grandparents would have NEVER said, “Times are tough, I think I will make life tougher for my children and grandchildren so it will be easier on me.” It is past time for our generation to sacrifice for the next generation and start solving our debt problems.
Solving the budget crisis is not simple, but it is achievable with a long-term perspective and a commitment to grow the economy, eliminate the wasteful spending and make sure every tax decision keeps an eye on our future. Congress needs to make the hard choices to get our finances back in balance.
No one likes paying taxes, but even Jesus and the Apostle Paul said we should pay our taxes. Tax rates should be low to make sure Americans can keep their hard-earned money, but enough to pay for critical services like national defense, education, infrastructure, public safety, and efficient government. Every wasted tax dollar is a dollar taken away from your family or your business. Washington, DC is not a better steward of your money. Every tax dollar should be spent wisely for a constitutional purpose.
In 2017, James worked with his colleagues in Congress to pass the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. This historic tax reform was a win for the middle class by lowering all middle-income tax brackets and doubling the standard deduction. Small businesses received needed relief with a lower tax rate. The result was a fast-growing economy, the best employment numbers in 50 years, and more take-home pay for most Americans. More Oklahomans were employed and made more money, so they paid more taxes, even after the middle class got a huge tax cut. It worked, but there is still more to do for real tax reform.
When times get hard, we know that families, non-profits, and the government come together to create a safety net More work needs to be done in our tax code to support non-profits who are one of America’s critical safety nets. James authored the non-profit section of the Paycheck Protection Program in 2020 and the critical tax changes during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, which helped save our non-profits nationwide.
America became great because there was an equal opportunity for any person to work hard and be a success. It is time to return to that belief.
Foreign Policy & National Defense
America is the respected leader of the world; we should continue to use our position of global leadership for good. We are not the world’s policeman, but we are the best role model of freedom in the world. All of our foreign aid should help Americans succeed in a more peaceful and prosperous world. Our military should be trained, equipped, engaged, and supported for the defense of the United States. The men and women in our military should know that Americans have their back as they stand up for our nation.
The United States Military is the greatest force for good in the history of the world. Their service, example and strength set the tone for diplomatic interactions and deter bad actors worldwide before they consider attacking us. Our military should be strong and have a global presence to protect American interests anywhere in the world. We should remember the lesson of September 11, 2001, we cannot ignore the threats from across the globe from terrorists or nations that intend to do us harm.
The United Nations is dominated by a mire of nations that hate liberty and freedom. We should limit our funding to the UN until there is real reform and legitimate oversight. We should also require other nations to step up and participate in funding UN operations. At the same time, the US should create other multinational organizations to take on the difficult issues of our time. UN entities have become dominated by China and some of the worst human rights violators in the world. To solve global issues of health, economic growth, human trafficking and other human rights, we should identify likeminded nations that want to solve, rather than ignore, the issues of our time and form partnerships toward real solutions. NATO is a critical alliance to deter Russian aggression and to maintain peace in Europe. NATO nations should fulfill their obligations to the partnership and stand united for peace through strength.
The Western Hemisphere is our home region and should be some of our best trading partners. The trade agreements with Canada, Mexico, and Central America are essential for the economic benefit of all people. We should encourage ethical and transparent governments in the region, free from the control of transnational criminal organizations that smuggle drugs, and people into the United States.
China is one of our largest trading partners and our greatest economic and national security threat. We should be wise in our relationship with China knowing that it is an authoritarian Communist dictatorship that oppresses its people, bullies its neighbors, and steals intellectual property from everyone. The security state that communist China has created constantly monitors all of its citizens and is providing the resources to authoritarian regimes around the world to replicate its oppression. The people of China are not our enemy, but the communist system that they live under is the enemy of freedom for people around the world.
The Middle East has been a challenging region for thousands of years, but we should stand firm with our ally Israel as we work for peace in the region. Israel is the only functioning democracy in the Middle East and is a partner for peace, economic development, and research. Jerusalem is not a settlement; it is the eternal capital of Israel. The Abraham Accords created a framework for peace in the region and a huge first step to regional cooperation to solve the boundaries and governance of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Palestinian leaders have demonstrated an inability to develop stable and peaceful governmental structures in Gaza and the West Bank. The instability has created fertile ground for extremist groups and terrorism. Peace has been the dream and the primary task of the nation of Israel since its rebirth in 1948 and the hope of individuals on both sides of the conflict for decades.
But peace cannot be imposed from any outside party, including the United States. Both sides of the conflict must commit to peace and stable governments. Israel is a sovereign nation that is capable of self-determination, but Israel’s neighbors must accept Israel’s right to exist under the U.N. Security Council Resolution 242. James has been active in the peace process in the Middle East by directly engaging with Israeli and Palestinian community leaders who are forming economic cooperation across the lines of division.
“…the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” Before we were even a nation, Americans owned and carried firearms. It is not only a distinct part of our history; it is also a constitutional right. There is no threat from law abiding citizens who own guns for hunting, sport shooting, protection or just collecting. Many nations restrict gun ownership around the world and the U.N. tries to impose gun limitations on United States citizens, but we should remind the rest of the world that our Constitution guarantees the right of Americans to own and use firearms and we intend to protect that right.
The rights of citizens to buy, sell, and trade their guns is no different than their right to buy sell and trade any other legal possession. There are already common-sense limitations on gun ownership like not allowing convicted felons, those dishonorably discharged from the military, and those convicted of domestic violence to own or purchase firearms. But people who think guns are the root of America’s problems are always looking for ways to limit gun ownership. Those who would work to take away that right must hear loud and clear that “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
James will continue to fight to uphold the United States Constitution and our Second Amendment rights.
Like most parents in Oklahoma, James and Cindy Lankford believe that it was their responsibility to raise well equipped and godly adults. The Lankford’s are grateful for the many excellent teachers and administrators that entered their children’s lives preparing them for adulthood. As a son of a public-school teacher and librarian, James understands well the sacrifices made by so many educators for our children.
James attended public schools and knows firsthand how important it is for all of our communities to support public education and those who serve our kids in public education.
One of the three great ladders out of poverty for any child is a great education. When we support quality education; we support quality opportunities for every child’s future. Parents want their child to have the best education and preparation for life regardless of their zip code, wealth, race, or faith. No child is the same nor does every child learn the same, so parents and guardians should be afforded the right to choose the best option for their child whether that be home school, public school, private school, or charter school.
The curriculum and standards in each public school should be determined by the local districts and the state of Oklahoma, not the federal government. Oklahoma can and should lead the nation in education. But, the best people to make decisions about a child’s education and preparation for the local job market are the parents and the local education leadership. Education choices in Oklahoma should not be limited based on the preferences of a Washington, D.C. bureaucrat over a thousand miles away.
Federal officials who spend their days walking on concrete and carpet should not dictate farm policy to families who live their lives taking care of the land.
A nation that cannot provide its own food and its own fuel will always be at risk. Our farms and ranches remain the most productive and innovative in the world. The modern farm is integrated and directly affected by global trade agreements and commodity price swings. Access to rural broadband is also essential on the modern farm and ranch. But there is no substitute for the hard work and moral tenacity of America’s farmers. That tenacity was shown by farmers and ranchers who worked tirelessly during the COVID-19 health emergency to ensure our nation had a steady supply of goods.
It is essential to help negotiate trade agreements with markets around the world while protecting our farms and ranches from tariffs and being undercut by other nations. James supported the historic US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) and worked to ensure parity in the agreement for Oklahoma’s farmers and ranchers. Federal burdens like fuel tank storage restrictions, the endangered species act, grain storage inspections on family farms, interstate farm truck rules, dust particulate regulations and youth labor restrictions show an arrogance of power from Washington, D.C.
The United States develops more coal, oil, and natural gas than anyone else in the world. America has enough energy to meet the needs of our country and be independent, but our current energy and environmental policy discourages energy exploration and expansion in the United States. Foreign energy sources undercut American companies through market manipulation, government subsidized exploration, and government owned industries. Our free market still runs circles around their government controls, but their interference hurts American jobs and families. We should stand up to the foreign energy manipulators.
Oklahoma can teach the nation that energy development means good jobs and a bright future. We truly do all of the above energy. Wind, geothermal, solar, and hydroelectric all show great promise for the future, but right now they still not a majority of our daily energy needs. Cutting edge energy research in Oklahoma shows great promise for batteries, reuse of materials, recycling water, wind, geothermal, and solar power. We should continue our march to energy innovation and even lower energy prices for consumers.
We do energy cleaner and better than anyone else in the world. For the sake of a cleaner environment, we should encourage more energy and critical mineral development come from the United States. Every energy job benefits our economy, our security, and our environment; it is time to get America working again by supporting American energy.
There is no question that the Earth’s climate is changing and that over the millennia of the Earth’s existence it has changed dramatically. No climate model is able to determine exactly what effect human activity has on our environment, but there is little doubt that human activity has some effect. Over the past 50 years, our global population has doubled from 3.7 billion to 7.8 billion. That means we need more food, more, energy. But, the solution to protecting our climate is not preventing economic opportunity for billions of people around the world or forcing third world countries to develop and use first world technology. We should protect the environment that God gave us and honor our neighbors and future the best way we can. Yes, the climate is changing, geology tells us that Oklahoma was once covered by water and that glaciers dominated North America in our ancient history. Science looks at the known evidence and tries to project what actions could help protect our planet from damage, then as a society we determine what actions we should take to respond.
Our nation has taken aggressive steps to protect our environment for well over a century. President Teddy Roosevelt started the conservation movement with the establishment of our National Parks. Under President Nixon, the Environmental Protection Agency was formed to protect our air, land and water. Multiple other administrations have taken steps to clean up our environment, set aside conservation land, clean up toxic superfund sites and reduce greenhouse gases. The result of all that work has been dramatic. The United States currently emits fewer greenhouse gases than we did in 2000, even with a population increase of 50 million people. We are more efficient and our environment is cleaner. The United States is also energy independent with a diverse energy portfolio of oil, gas, nuclear, geothermal, wind, solar, bio-fuels, hydrogen, hydroelectric, and more. We should not surrender our diverse energy supply, or the thousands of jobs that are connected to our energy. We should also pay attention to the price of energy, knowing that those in poverty suffer the most when energy prices increase.
To protect our environment, we need to produce more of our own critical minerals used in solar, wind, and steel production instead of allowing China and other world polluters to dominate the critical minerals market. We should find ways to reduce flaring of natural gas so we can protect that valuable resource for the future. We should work to limit the release of any toxic water, or air emissions. We should recycle water produced from oil, gas wells, and other waste water to prevent the movement of chemicals into our drinking water supplies or onto our land. We should empower the private sector to innovate ways to be more energy efficient so we can meet the needs of our own energy use and help developing countries around the world improve their standard of living by gaining access to reliable energy.
The founders of our nation believed that the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness was given by God and that government exists to protect those rights for each individual citizen.
Every person is created in the image of God and should have an opportunity for life and success.
Mothers who have experienced abortion know firsthand the life-long trauma and pain associated with abortion. We should have compassion for every mother and father who have chosen abortion, but as a community and a human family, we have a responsibility to stand up and speak out for those that cannot speak for themselves. No person should be thrown in the trash because they were “inconvenient.”
Americans are increasingly waking up to the reality of the abortion industry. People who make their money from taking human life have deceived Americans by saying that the child sucking their thumb in the womb is only tissue. Science confirms that a child can feel pain in the womb, she has a beating heart, a functioning nervous system, and DNA different than the mom or the dad. Those are not just cells or tissue, that is a unique child that will grow into an adult in the future, if we will stand up for their life now. Our nation should build up families, encourage foster care and adoption, equal opportunity for everyone, engage in poverty solutions, and assure pro-life taxpayers that they will not be forced to pay for abortions.
The most basic human right is the right to life.
Our nation was not founded out of oppression with a moral belief, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” That belief is still in the hearts of Americans. We believe that is true for every American and every person around the globe. That is why we work to stop human trafficking internationally, speak up for child slavery, challenge dictators who restrict the faith and speech of their own people and protect the rights of all people to live free.
James’ belief in this unalienable right has led him to co-found the first ever anti-Semitism task force in the Senate, require our trade negotiators to include freedom of religion in their dialogue, confront human trafficking / end forced labor at our State Department and Department of Defense international facilities, speak out for the value of the unborn so they are not destroyed before they have a chance to choose, support refugees, and challenge governments around the world to live up to a higher standard of human dignity. We must live our values and challenge other nations to recognize the value and potential of every human life.
I believe every person should have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Government does not exist to serve government; it exists to serve the people. Every government has waste, but the larger the government structure the more the waste. The only way to make significant change in government is to make it smaller and more accountable to the people. Liberals in Washington, D.C. continue to clamor for more taxes, but why would anyone want to pay more taxes to a government that is already wasting billions of dollars. Each year, James releases the Federal Fumbles guide to wasteful and inefficient government. This guide has become a must read in Washington and multiple agencies have worked to get their agency out of the “Fumble book.”
James has uncovered waste and duplication across the nation, and he has focused on the solutions to clean up the mess.
Every time Congress finds a problem, Congress creates another federal program to fight it. Most of the programs do not work and duplicate another dysfunctional program that already existed. Rather than just complain about it, James got to work. He authored the Taxpayer Right to Know Act to force federal programs to identify their real cost, staff structure, and the metrics to evaluate each program. Programs that cannot even evaluate their effectiveness, cannot continue. There are thousands of government programs that rarely have oversight; the first step is to require bureaucrats to account for their services and allow congress to make a decision on their efficacy.
To force Congress to do their job, James introduced the Prevent Government Shutdowns Act that ends wasteful shutdowns and requires members of congress to stay in Washington, D.C. until a funding agreement is reached. No one should go home until the work is done, but no federal worker should be put on furlough because someone in Congress didn’t finish their job.
Government waste must stop. Decisions that are made locally will be more efficient and more effective. So, let’s take the power out of Washington, D.C. and give control back to families and states.
Government works best when it is local and accessible. The farther decisions are made from an individual, the more you are just a number, not a neighbor.
Federal Executive agencies have assumed regulatory authority, taking the place of state governments and centralizing control. That is bad for economic growth, job opportunities, and basic liberties. When someone over a thousand miles away can force you and your company to spend money, change your business or farming practice, or stop all together, based on their preference, not the rule of law, we have a problem.
For years federal courts have afforded a great amount of deference to federal agencies. That deference has produced significant restrictions on our liberties and caused the federal power to become unbalanced. It is past time that Congress addresses this extraordinary deference and restore our freedom.
Many Americans have experienced the frustration of “someone from the federal government” walking in their front door to tell them how to run their business or their family farm. This is what death by a thousand paper cuts looks like in the real world.
As a nation, we want reasonable boundaries for fraud and discrimination. But, we can all agree that federal regulators moving into a neighborhood to tell our families that we cannot work together violates everything about our core American freedom and values. Continued uncertainty and central planning will stifle our economic development as a nation.
One of the top priorities of government is national security. All over the world, there are people that intend to harm Americans because of our freedom, our prosperity, and our values. A strong, moral, and capable military defends our nation from outside attacks and threats. Well trained and equipped federal law enforcement protect our nation from gangs, dangerous drugs, illegal immigration, terrorism, and so much more.
Our intelligence community works to discover threats to Americans before they strike us. Their vital work has saved countless lives over the years.
Strong and knowledgeable leaders are needed to stand up for our nation, because a weak United States Military puts every American at risk. Our military men and women put their life on the line to ensure our personal freedom; it is vital that we show them that we are behind them.
We should deal with waste in all areas of government, including the military. But the budget should not drive military strategy, strategy should drive the budget.
We are grateful every day for the sacrifices our Veterans have made for our freedom. Veterans never stop serving their nation and neighbors; we should keep serving them in return. While major improvements have been made in the past few years in our VA hospitals and long-term care facilities, there is still work to be done.
James voted for the 2018 Mission Act to streamline veteran health care, introduced legislation for greater VA oversight and reforms to veterans’ benefits. This allows Vets to get faster care, closer to home.
Poverty is not the problem, it’s limiting possibilities. People can escape poverty if they can get a good education, have a job and be committed to their family.
We should do all we can to knock down barriers to opportunity that have been set up to block people because of their race, their background, their faith or any other thing that limits. People in America should be able to rise.
While government can clear any blockades to progress and provide pathways out of poverty, each person must choose their own life path. Poverty in America should not be a prison, it should be place you grow out of, rather than remain. Short-term federal safety net programs that provide basic needs should be a trampoline out of poverty, rather than a hammock in poverty. Every tax dollar that is given to help someone out of poverty, is a tax dollar that is taken from another American, so poverty programs should be designed to help people become productive citizens that help others.
Addiction, hopelessness and bad educational outcomes all put people on a pathway to poverty, rather than a pathway to economic opportunity.
Border Security & Immigration
America is full of immigrants, but there is a huge difference between legal immigration and illegal immigration. We should have secure borders, including fencing, technology, vehicle checks at border crossings, and a reliable entry / exit system to stop illegal immigration. But we should also have a visa system that allows people to work in the United States if their skills are needed. The United States is the greatest nation in the world, we encourage people around the world to take on our values of hard work, innovation and freedom so they can help their country have success as well. Each year, Americans welcome a million new legal immigrants to US citizenship. They have immigrated the right way and we celebrate them as they become citizens.
But there are also millions of people in America who came to our shores illegally. They did not follow the rules for entry. Some of those people want to work in the U.S., others are traffickers want to smuggle drugs or people into the U.S. We should be able to have a reasonable conversation about how we can stop illegal immigration, but protect the ability for people to apply and work in the United States if their skills are needed. Updating our E-verify system, increasing border security, ending catch and release at the borders, adding more technology and fencing at our border, closing the loopholes in immigration law, adding more immigration courts and video courts, and fixing the problems in our visa system should all be common- sense solutions.
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof” – The First Amendment of the Constitution.
This was a radical statement two centuries ago and it remains a radical idea in many parts of the world today. The United States government does not have an official religion, but the government also cannot require anyone to practice a certain faith or surrender their faith to participate in public life. Americans have the right to have any faith they choose, and still be a proud American. We should protect the rights of every person to live the faith of their choosing. Our faith is our most precious personal possession, the government should not try to take it away, or infringe on you living your faith.
Every elected official right to live their faith is protected by Article VI of the Constitution, “no religious Test shall ever be Required as a Qualification To any Office or public Trust under the United States.” James is an outspoken Christian who believes that Jesus died for our sins and that He offers everyone forgiveness and a relationship with Him. But James also believes that every person should have their rights protected to believe and live their faith, just as he lives his faith.
The United States should not discriminate against any person or institution simply because of their faith. When our government treats people or organizations of faith as second-class citizens, we should speak out for equality of each person, regardless of their faith. There are still nations around the world that execute people for “blasphemy” and have anti-conversion laws on the books. In those nations, people do not live free to believe as they choose. We should speak out on their behalf.
Faith is not something you can take on and off. Faith is the deepest part of who you are. If your faith only affects your weekends, your faith is more like a hobby. In America you can choose to have only a weekend faith, but you can also choose to have a seven day a week faith; we believe in the protection of every person and institution of faith.