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The Roundup

James Lankford Under Fire for Town Hall Meeting

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Posted 01.24.13

Oklahoma Congressman James Lankford caught the attention of liberal blog ThinkProgress, which used his address at a town hall meeting in Oklahoma City as an opportunity to ridicule some of his proposed policy—three times.

First, Scott Keyes wrote about Lankford’s assertion that welfare moms are to blame for gun violence in America. From a transcript of the interaction between Lankford and a constituent:

CONSTITUENT: My question is regarding the guns and is Washington at all aware of the psychotropic drugs that these children are taking? I guarantee it 100 percent that’s our big problem. […]

LANKFORD: I agree with that. I think there’s a bunch of issues that, quite frankly, most liberals are afraid to talk about. […] Where are we on all those psychiatric drugs? We’ve overmedicated kids. Quite frankly some of the overmedication of kids are because welfare moms want to get additional benefits and if they can put them on SSI through maintenance drugs, they can also put them on Social Security disability and get a separate check. That is wrong on every single level. Not only is it fraudulent to the government, but it also tells a kid with great potential, “don’t try because you’re disabled.”

Keyes offered an argument: “In Fiscal Year 2011, the Inspector General’s office opened up 4,600 fraud cases related to Social Security disability programs. This number includes a wide variety of fraud, including lying about one’s marital status, stealing money from someone who has died, or unreported income. The actual number of people committing the type of fraud Lankford describes is a minuscule fraction. Meanwhile, nearly 10,000 people are gunned down in an average year.”

Later that day, Hayes Brown wrote about Lankford’s suggestion that the United Nations be defunded and that the U.S. conduct international relations “in another way.” Lankford said: “The benefits of what we could get out of the U.N. we can do with a telephone now and over a Skype. […] It is a transition of wealth from wealthy nations to poorer nations is what the U.N.’s sole purpose is now.”

The following day, Keyes again wrote that, in the same meeting, Lankford supported using “the power of humiliation” to undermine the Substances and Mental Health Services Administration, which offers substance abuse treatment to addicts and has been criticized by some conservatives for supporting programs specifically geared toward helping the lesbian and gay community overcome addiction and deal with issues like bullying. A constituent at the town hall meeting accused the organization of “indoctrination” and “pushing the homosexual agenda.” Lankford responded: “Some of those things you have the power of humiliation where you can raise it and put in sunlight. They love functioning in the dark. You put some sunlight on it, that does help.”

ThinkProgress pointed out that the constituent, “Sally,” asking the question appears to be Republican state representative Sally Kern, perhaps best know for her opinion that “gays are an even bigger threat than terrorism.”

At a separate address in Washington, D.C., over the weekend, Lankford called for fellow Republicans to leave a “better legacy for the next generation,” The Oklahoman reported. And The Hill quoted him as saying: “Regardless of our differences, we all have the same dreams of a better future for our kids and grandkids.”