The Edmond Sun

Opinion

October 21, 2013

We must lead, find real solutions

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The last several weeks have been difficult for our country and caused many to question not only our economic future, but the very ability of our federal government to perform its most basic functions. We can play the blame game all day long, but at the end of the day, the American people elected lawmakers and the president to govern, and they depend on us to work together and find common ground, regardless of party affiliation.

For months and months, I warned that government shutdown is and was a bad idea. Every other shutdown in our nation’s history has caused needless harm to the American people, including furlough of thousands of innocent federal workers and lost access to necessary services and information for millions of Americans. I am disappointed that, 17 years after the partial-shutdown of 1996, we allowed something so damaging and irresponsible to occur again and for so many days.

Right in the thick of the government shutdown, we were also inching dangerously close to the debt ceiling deadline of Oct. 17. Never in our nation’s history have we exceeded the borrowing limit and been unable to pay our bills. Had we not extended the debt ceiling, allowing the country to plunge into default, the repercussions would have been sudden, severe and lasting. Immediate consequences would have included delay of Social Security checks, members of the military not being paid, and plunging financial markets.

But today is a better day because the shutdown is over and default is off the table. Last week, lawmakers worked together and agreed on a short-term measure to fund the federal government, temporarily lift the debt ceiling and form a conference committee to negotiate long-term budget reforms. While this funding compromise isn’t perfect, I am pleased that we acted in a bipartisan manner to reopen the government and avert default. Even though we have many differences, I was encouraged that both sides agreed risking the full faith and credit of the United States of America is not acceptable and acted with urgency to make sure it did not occur.

Last week’s agreement was good news for every American, but it also averted an economic catastrophe for thousands of federal workers across the Fourth District of Oklahoma, who are finally back at work. This includes individuals at Tinker Air Force Base, Fort Sill, the Federal Aviation Administration and countless other important federal agencies. In addition, services have resumed at Veterans centers and hospitals for Native Americans, where government funding ensures patients receive quality care.

While the suffering caused by the shutdown went on far too long, House efforts to reopen the government never wavered. In the days ahead, however, I am hopeful that both chambers on both sides of the aisle learned lessons from this episode and recognize that despite inevitable differences, it is possible to talk to each other for the sake of a compromise that protects the entire nation.

We have the opportunity to continue talking to each other as we reconvene and negotiate long-term reforms through the conference committee, led by House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan and Senate Budget Chairman Patty Murray and comprised of seven House Members and 22 Senators. I will serve as one of four House Republicans during these high-level budget negotiations between the House and Senate. If successful, this compromise will be the first time since 2009 that both chambers have agreed on a budget.

As the committee meets in the coming days, I am hopeful that we can find common sense reforms that improve our economic outlook and provide a better future for our children and grandchildren. Americans want solutions that reduce the deficit, overhaul the current tax system, create more jobs, spur economic growth and preserve the full faith and credit of the United States. These are all goals shared by my fellow Republicans and my constituents back home, and I am pleased to bring the conservative values of Oklahomans to the table as we enter this critical time.

After the pain caused by the government shutdown and the uncertainty triggered by the expiring debt ceiling, we know now more than ever that we have to talk to each other. While conference negotiations will be intense and tough, it is critical that we find common ground to avoid any repeats of what we experienced during the shutdown.

U.S. REP. TOM COLE, R-Moore, represents Oklahoma’s 4th Congressional District.

1
Text Only
Opinion
  • Loosening constraints on campaign donations and spending doesn’t destroy democracy

    Campaign finance reformers are worried about the future. They contend that two Supreme Court rulings — the McCutcheon decision in March and the 2010 Citizens United decision — will magnify inequality in U.S. politics.
    In both cases, the court majority relaxed constraints on how money can be spent on or donated to political campaigns. By allowing more private money to flow to campaigns, the critics maintain, the court has allowed the rich an unfair advantage in shaping political outcomes and made “one dollar, one vote” (in one formulation) the measure of our corrupted democracy.
    This argument misses the mark for at least four reasons.

    April 23, 2014

  • The top 12 government programs ever

    Which federal programs and policies succeed in being cost-effective and targeting those who need them most? These two tests are obvious: After all, why would we spend taxpayers' money on a program that isn't worth what it costs or helps those who do not need help?

    April 23, 2014

  • Free trade on steroids: The threat of the Trans-Pacific Partnership

    Many supporters of the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, trade agreement are arguing that its fate rests on President Obama’s bilateral talks with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Japan this week. If Japan and the United States can sort out market access issues for agriculture and automobiles, the wisdom goes, this huge deal — in effect, a North American Free Trade Agreement on steroids — can at last be concluded.

    April 22, 2014

  • Can Hillary Clinton rock the cradle and the world?

    What's most interesting to contemplate is the effect becoming a grandmother will have on Hillary's ambition. It's one of life's unfairnesses that a woman's peak career years often coincide with her peak childbearing years.

    April 22, 2014

  • Chicago Tribune: If Walgreen Co. moves its HQ to Europe, blame Washington’s tax failure

    The Walgreen Co. drugstore chain got its start nearly a century ago in downstate Dixon, Ill., before moving its corporate headquarters to Chicago and eventually to north suburban Deerfield, Ill.
    Next stop? Could be Bern, Switzerland.
    A group of shareholders reportedly is pressuring the giant retail chain for a move to the land of cuckoo clocks. The reason: lower taxes. Much lower taxes.
    If Walgreen changes its legal domicile to Switzerland, where it recently acquired a stake in European drugstore chain Alliance Boots, the company could save big bucks on its corporate income-tax bill. The effective U.S. income-tax rate for Walgreen, according to analysts at Swiss Bank UBS: 37 percent. For Alliance Boots: about 20 percent.

    April 21, 2014

  • Sulphur a future major tourist destination?

    Greta Garbo says, “I want to be alone,” in the 1932 film “Grand Hotel.” That MGM film starred Garbo, John and Lionel Barrymore, Wallace Beery and a young actress from Lawton named Joan Crawford. It told the stories of several different people who were staying at an exclusive hotel of that name in Berlin Germany.
    It was critically well received and it inspired more recent films such as “Gosford Park” and television shows such as “Downton Abbey” in that it detailed the relationship between powerful and wealthy people and those who served them. The film opened amidst much fanfare and it received the Oscar for best picture in the year of its release.

    April 21, 2014

  • St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Why poverty across the world matters to Americans

    A child starving in South Sudan should matter to Americans. That was the message delivered last week by Nancy Lindborg, whose job at the U.S. Agency for International Development is to lead a federal bureau spreading democracy and humanitarian assistance across the world.
    That world has reached a critical danger zone, with three high-level crises combining military conflict with humanitarian catastrophes affecting millions of innocents in Syria, the South Sudan and the Central African Republic.
    But back to that child.

    April 18, 2014

  • Government leadership complicit in overfilling prisons

    One of the thorniest problems facing any society is the question of what to do with transgressors. Obviously, the more complicated a culture becomes, the more factors come into play in trying to figure out what to do with those who choose not to “play by the rules.”

    April 18, 2014

  • My best days are ones normal people take for granted

    It is a weekend for working around the house. My fiancee, Erin, and I have the baby’s room to paint and some IKEA furniture to assemble. I roll out of bed early — 10:30 — and get into my wheelchair. Erin is already making coffee in the kitchen.
    “I started the first wall,” she says. “I love that gray.” Erin never bugs me about sleeping late. For a few months after I was injured in the Boston Marathon bombings, I often slept 15 hours a day. The doctors said my body needed to heal. It must still be healing because I hardly ever see 8 a.m. anymore.

    April 18, 2014

  • Instead of mothballing Navy ships, give them to our allies

    A bitter debate has raged in the Pentagon for several months about the wisdom of taking the nuclear aircraft carrier George Washington out of service to save money. The Washington, at 24 years old a relatively young vessel, is due for a costly refit, a routine procedure that all of the 11 large carriers in service undergo regularly.

    April 18, 2014

Poll

Do you agree with a state budget proposal that takes some funds away from road and bridge projects to ramp up education funding by $29.85 million per year until schools are receiving $600 million more a year than they are now? In years in which 1 percent revenue growth does not occur in the general fund, the transfer would not take place.

Agree
Disagree
Undecided
     View Results