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The Perkins Journal
Perkins, Oklahoma
December 6, 2012     The Perkins Journal
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December 6, 2012

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A4. THE PERKINS JOURNAL, Thursday, December 6, 2012 Opinions il  This past month, I announced Oklahoma would not implement two key components of President Obama's health Care law: the creation of a health insurance exchange and the expamion of Med- icaid. I'm writing this month to let you know why that decision i s in the best interests of Oklahoma taxpayers and families. For several months, my staff and I have worked with other lawrnakcrs, Oklahoma stakeholders and health care experts across the country to determine the best course of action for Oklahoma in regards to both a possible health insurance exchange and the potential expansion of Medicaid. As I have stated many times before, it is my firm belief that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) fails to further these goals, and will in fact decrease the quality of health care across the United States while contributing to the nation's growing deficit crisis. Despite my ongoing opposition to the federal health care law, however, the state of Oklahoma found itself legally obligated to either build an exchange that is PPA CA compliant and approved by the Obama Admires" tmtion, or to default to an exchange nan by the federal govemment. This choice was forced on the people of Oklahoma by the Obama Administration in spite of the fact ........ that voters have overwhelmingly expressed their opposition to the federal health care law time and time again. After careful consideration, I decided last month that Okla- homa would not pursue the creation of its own health imurance exchange. As I said at the time, any exchange that is PPACA compliant will necessarily be'state-rim' in name only and would require Oklahoma resources, staff and tax dollars to implement. It does not benefit Oklahoma taxpayers to actively support and fund a new govemment program that would ultimately be under the control of the federal government and that is opposed by a dear majority of Oklahornans. Furthermore, the creation of such an exchange would further the implementation of a law that threatens to erode both the quality of American health care and the fiscal stability of the nation. :iWith regards to Medicaid, I also announced that Oklahoma Would not be participating in the Obama Administtation's pro- posed expansion. Such an expansion would have been unafford- able, costing the state of Oklahoma $475 million between now and 2020, with escalating annual expenses in subsequent years. It would also have furthered Oklahoma' s reliance on federal money that may or may not have been available in the future given the dire fiscal problems facing the federal govemment. On a state level, massive new costs associated with Medicaid expansion would also have required cuts to important govemment priorities such as education and public safety. Finally, the proposed Medicaid expansion offers no meaningful reform to a massive entitlement program already contributing to the out-of-control spending of the federal govemment. Moving forward, itis important for'the state of Oklahoma to pursue two actions simultaneously. The first will be to continue support for Oklahoma Attorney General S,co, Pmitt's ongoing legal challenge of Peeml Pruitt S..,baw.qt raises dif- ferent Constitlonal,questiom than previous leg, at challenge, and both hganUd I 'c flaat Oklaornas chaffen can succeed. Our second and equally important task will be to pursue state- based solutions that improve health outcomes and contain costs for Oklahoma families. Serious reform, for instance, should be pursued in the area of Medicaid and public health, where effec- tive chronic disease Preventi0n and management programs could address the trend of skymcketin" g medical bills linked to avoidable hospital and emergency room visits. I look forward to working with legislative leaders and lawmakers in both parties to pursue Oklahoma health care solutions for Oklahoma families. .............. TO SUBSCRIBE BY MAIL, fill OUt this form and mail with ii| remittance to: The Perkins Journal, P.O. Box 667, iiiiii. Perkins, OK 74059-0667 :ili(i: Name iiiiii!ii!i :ii;I City State__ Zip __ iiiii!iiii ::=!:iiil Rates: One year in Oklahoma.. $30 ............. ::" One year out of state ...... $35 ....... ............ - iiii :}}}:= BE A FRIEND, BUY A FRIEND a subscription and deduct $4 off of the rates listed above if you are acurrent paid subscriber, i !iil ;::;;;:;:11 Use the form above for your'?riend" and list your name here: IIi!ii :lk -- i = ,-- -- -- -. --, -- -- dlii!/:?: I attended the Excellence in Action National Summit on Education Reform this week in Washington, D.C. It was fabulous. I heard empowering speeches from reformers such as Jeb Bush, former governor of Florida and Chairman of the Foundation for Excellence in Education. His message of truly maximizing every student's potential while preparing him or her for the work world of the 21st Century is something every educator needs to hear. I also heard a very sobering report from Dr. Condoleezza Rice, former U.S. Secretary of State; Joel Klein, former chancellor of New York City's public schools; with Dr. Richard Haass, President of the Council on Foreign Relations. The trio discussed a recent Council on Foreign Relations task force report. This independent, nonpartisan group reports that our failure to educate students in the United States leaves them unprepared to compete with global peers and threatens our country's ability to thrive in the global marketplace and maintain our role as a world leader. The report notes that while the United States invests morn in K-12 public education than many other developed countries, its students are still coming in far behind global counterparts in subjects such as reading, mathematics and science. According The President of the United States, POTUS, teed off the first Sunday morning in May, 2011. The East Course of Andrews air base was the site of Barack Obama's 66th round of golf as president. The media and the public weren't invited, as usual. As at nearly all of Obama's previous outings, the only witnesses were a trio of staff members and a platoon of Secret Service members. Obama's favorite game is basketball, a love affair that began at age 10, when the father he barely knew gave him a ball. But by his third year in office, golf has been his most cherished escape. The press corps is forbidden from following or even taking pictures on the course. For the man who "misses being anonymous," the golf course has become the one place he can disappear. On this moming, Obama called it quits after nine holes, a curious turn for a golfer who typically insists on 18 holes during rounds that last as long six hours. Golf has been ranked as the favorite pastime of American presidents for more than a century. Fifteen of the past 18 execu- fives have played the game. Eisenhower, Ford, and Clinton most avidly; Coolidge, LBJ, and Nixon most grudgingly, and nearly all dangerously risking hooking a drive into a gallery. The presidential tradition began ignominiously when Wil- liam Howard Taft, all 3 20 pounds of him, ignored the counsel of his political mentor, Teddy Roosevelt (he hated being called 'Teddy") who had once declared"Golfis fatal" to any politi- cal man. Despite that and his buffoonish swing, Taft kept on playing the gilded game, all but admitting he preferred the game to governing. After his presidency, President Warren Harding appointed Taft chief Justice of the Supreme Court in 1921. He served until shortly before his death in 1930. Taft said, "it was the greatest achievement of my life. In fact, I don't remember that I was ever president." Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. was Dean of the Harvard Medi- cal School for 10 years, but he is remembered more for his writings, Autocrat of the Breakfast Club, the One-Hess Shay, etc. His son, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., a Lt. in the Civil "Get down  " War, was the one who shouted, oo , you IOOi, when Abraham Lincoln was trying to see part of a battle. Historians say that if Lincoln had lived, and memories of the Civil War waned, he too, would have been remembered more for his writings. But in the century since Taft, no president has been morn vilified for his love for golf than Obama. And not surprisingly, no president has done more to keep his game a secret. During the 104 rounds Obama has played as president, photographers have been permitted only five times, and then they've been forced to use long lenses from 40-50 yards, only for a few moments. Reporters accompanying Obama are usu- ally banned from the first tee. JFK was the last president to ban photographers. to the results of the 2009 Program for International Student Assessment, U.S. 15-year-olds ranked 14th in reading, 25th in math, and 17th in science compared to students in other industrial countries. The report also points to low graduation rates and ACT scores that show many of our students are not prepared for the rigors of college. This, of course, means these young people in many cases also are not employable or fit for military duty. The good news is many of our education reforms in Oklahoma fit with the task force's recommendations, which they believe will put the nation back on track to becoming an educational, economic and mih'tary leader. The task force makes three recommendations: Implement educational expectations and assessments in subjects vital to protecting national security. This includes the recommendation to expand to the new rigorous Oklahoma C3 Standards. Make structural changes to provide students with good choices. Choice and competition, in an environment of equi- table resource allocation, 11 fuel the innovation necessary to transform results. Conduct a national security audit with published results to ensure students are gaining the skills and knowledge necessary to safeguard America's future security and prosperity. I know Oklahoma educators are working hard every day to ensure our students are prepared for whatever their futures hold, whether that be college, career orthe military. With your effort and our continued implementation of needed education reforms, we are doing our part to safeguard our nation's heritage. Many presidents, in the half century since, have held impromptu news conferences on the first tee. George W. Bush infamously told reporters in 2002, "I call aU nations to do everything they can to stop these terrorist killers. Thank you. Now watch this drive." Few details are given the press corps about Obama's game. Press secretary Jay Carney jokes when asked about POTUS's handicap, "that's classified." The president usually prefers hitting the links in advance; reporters become aware only when the presidential motorcade leaves for the first tee. His pals won't even reveal his favorite golf ball brand. The first rule of a golf club: don't talk about the golf club. White house and senior campaign officials declined to discuss Obama's golf in the homestretch of am-election year. Obama has rejected requests by senior Democratic party officials to golf with wealthy contributors to raise money, as did Bill Clinton. Only once since bexa)ming president has Obama played with a journalist, Thomas Friedman, a New York Times columnist. Their round, predictably, was off the record. When the president-elect was on an Hawaiian vacation in 2008, video was shot of a few holes. A crowd of about 100 witnessed a rare treat; an Obama wedge shot flying low and straight for 75 yards before settling on the edge of the green. "Hey, guys, pretty good, huh?" Everyone laughed. Someone said, "Better than your bowling." This mfermd to a #tifu137 Obama bowled during the 2008 campaign. The re-elected president inherited an economic fme-fall nation; the administration was aware of the "ap g dis- engaged" pitfalls. Senate Minority Leader Mitch O'Connell's quip: "For fo years, Bamck Obama has been running from the nation's problems. He hasn't been working to earn re,election. He's been working to earn a spot on the PGA tour.  , Even Mitt Romney joined the act. "I jUst think it!s time to have apresident whose idea of hands-on doesn't mean getting : a better grip on a golf club." Romney himself is an oddity - a; wealthy capitalist who doesn't play golf. It's often said that golf exposes a man's character, and it's equally tree for presidents. Lyndon B. Johnson agreed to play only after being told the links could be useful to twist arms of recalcitrant senators. ' What's most revealing about Obama'S game is the simple fact that there still is one, even in the face of all the carping. Steve Rushin, who writes about presidential golf in the "Golf Digest," says, "In a weird way, you must give Obama crlit for continuing to play. It speaks to the fact that he genuinely loves the the game." Obama, a lefty, has shaved off a few strokes of his handicap of 18. But he is far from the most prolific presidential golfer. Woodrow Wilson played a handful of holes every morning. Dwight Eisenhower played nearly 800 rounds across two terms. Andres W. Lopez, an attorney who's known the president since their Harvard days, says,"Golf for Obama has become a Sanctuary of sorts." Still, them might be one morn reason Obama has stuck to his beloved game. Since the 1980 presidential election, a curious trend has emerged: Jimmy Carter, Walter Mondale, Michael Dukakis, Bob Dole, A1 Gem, John Kerry, and John McCain: none have played golf. All tasted defeat. All Lost to Golfers !