Rural communities are the cornerstone to a solid future for Oklahoma, and it is vital that their individual needs are met. We need to understand that rural Oklahoma cannot be left behind as we try to move our state ahead. Rural communities provide a great education, a strong civic life and a low cost of living, but too often lack access to medical care, good jobs and key services necessary to survive. My office is trying to assist by giving advice on grant opportunities, encouraging investment and job growth by expanding companies and ensuring that health care is accessible and affordable in rural Oklahoma. I am committed to helping strengthen our rural communities.
Oklahoma's Fourth Congressional District has a rich agricultural heritage, and protecting this heritage is among my highest priorities. For these reasons, I supported the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (Farm Bill), which reauthorized many programs to support America's farmers. Though the legislation was far from perfect, this law will provide our nation's farmers with the assistance they need in the coming years. In the future, I will work to make sure that Congressional leaders do not enact laws that will deteriorate the important role that America's farmers play in our nation's economy and culture.
Free Trade Agreements
Currently there are three major Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) pending before Congress with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea. These agreements, negotiated by the Bush administration, will provide new markets for rural Oklahoma's agricultural products and increase the productivity of the United States. This translates to more jobs for Americans, especially those in rural America. It is unacceptable that the liberals who currently control Congress have not chosen to make these a priority. Failing to enact these agreements not only hurts America's economy, but is hampering productivity in rural America.
Without question, the Estate Tax, or "death tax," has made it very difficult for small business and farm owners to leave their legacy of hard work to their loved ones. After paying taxes throughout their life, it is unfair to tax property again upon a business owner's death. I am firmly committed to a full repeal of the Death Tax in order to keep family farms in the hands of the same families that have owned them for generations. While the Death Tax has been suspended for 2010, it will come into full effect again if Congress fails to act. It is vital that both sides of the aisle come together to prevent this heavy tax from burdening America's farmers again. This is why I have co-sponsored H.R. 3524, the Family Farm Preservation and Conservation Estate Tax Act, which would exclude family farms from the death tax, in order to preserve these important symbols of our shared heritage.
While climate change regulation will have a major impact on almost every American industry, regulating Greenhouse Gasses will be especially damaging for our farmers and rural communities. Proposals being considered in Washington today would cause the prices of fertilizer and fuel to increase dramatically, thereby putting Oklahoma farmers and the rural communities surrounding them in a precarious financial position. Furthermore, this unnecessary move would decrease America's competitiveness in international markets. Though it is unlikely that Congress will enact climate change legislation soon, it is very possible that the Obama administration will bypass Congress and attempt to regulate greenhouse gasses by administrative fiat. This is why I have co-sponsored H.R. 391, which would prohibit the administration from regulating greenhouse gases. Rest assured, I will work tirelessly to ensure that our farms and rural communities are not placed at a disadvantage by regulating climate change.