Oklahoma’s big spenders are leading the nation

June 26, 2012

Over at Forbes.com, Peter Ferrara (who spoke at OCPA earlier this year) says President Obama is the biggest government spender in world history.

Here at home, as OCPA never tires of repeating, Oklahoma’s current political leaders are the biggest government spenders in state history.

As I pointed out Friday in The Oklahoman,

In his important new book The Debt Bomb, U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn shares a quote from Admiral Mike Mullen, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under President Obama: “Our national debt is our biggest national security threat.”

University of Oklahoma historian J. Rufus Fears made similar remarks last year at a talk at the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, issuing a stern rebuke to politicians whose reckless borrowing-and-spending spree leaves us at the mercy of xenophobic despots who hate us.

The politicians in Washington have failed us. But the ones here at home are also part of the problem.

Oklahoma state-government spending is at an all-time high. Total state spending continues to increase every year (analysts at both liberal and conservative think tanks in Oklahoma agree on this point). Much of this is federal money.

Cato Institute analyst Tad DeHaven, a former budget policy advisor to Sen. Coburn, says state policymakers have become “dangerously reliant on federal money.” In a very real sense, Oklahoma policymakers receive federal bailouts every year. They either don’t know or don’t care that, as Coburn says, “America is already bankrupt.”

OCPA isn’t the only organization to notice Oklahoma’s fiscal profligacy. Last week the Tax Foundation reminded us that Oklahoma led the nation in government-spending growth over the past decade.

As I said in The Oklahoman, “Dr. Coburn has identified the problem in Washington: Careerist politicians, seduced by power and position, refuse to set priorities because cutting spending isn’t truly important to them. We have the identical problem in Oklahoma City.”

Brandon Dutcher can be reached at twitter.com/brandondutcher or facebook.com/brandondutcher.