The Edmond Sun


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.

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    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

  • The pessimist’s guide to grizzly bears and Earth Day

    This coming Friday, to “celebrate Earth Day,” the Walt Disney Co. will release one of those cutesy, fun-for-all-ages, nature documentaries. “Bears” is about grizzly bears.
    The trailer says, “From DisneyNature comes a story that all parents share. About the love, the joy, the struggle and the strength it takes to raise a family.”
    Talk about your misguided “Hollywood values.” I previously have acknowledged a morbid, unreasonable fear of grizzly bears, stemming from a youth misspent reading grisly grizzly-attack articles in Readers Digest. This fear is only morbid and unreasonable because I live about 1,500 miles from the nearest wild grizzly bear. Still. ...

    April 16, 2014

  • Digging out of the CIA-Senate quagmire

    Last week, the Senate Intelligence Committee, led by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., voted to declassify parts of its report on the CIA’s rendition, detention and interrogation program. The White House, the CIA and the Senate still have to negotiate which portions of the report will be redacted before it is made public. But this is an important step in resolving the ugly dispute that has erupted between the intelligence committee and the intelligence agency.
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    April 15, 2014

  • Los Angeles Times: Congress extend jobless benefits again

    How’s this for irony: Having allowed federal unemployment benefits to run out in December, some lawmakers are balking at a bill to renew them retroactively because it might be hard to figure out who should receive them. Congress made this task far harder than it should have been, but the technical challenges aren’t insurmountable. Lawmakers should restore the benefits now and leave them in place until the unemployment rate reaches a more reasonable level.

    April 14, 2014

  • Many nations invested in Israel

    Former Israeli Ambassador to the United States Yoram Ettinger recently spoke to a gathering at the Chabad Center for Jewish Life and Learning in Oklahoma City. The event began with a presentation by Rabbi Ovadia Goldman, who told the attendee that the  upcoming Jewish holiday of Passover was an occasion for them to embrace the children of God, which is all of humanity.

    April 14, 2014

  • Coming soon: More ways to get to know your doctor

    Last week, the federal government released a massive database capable of providing patients with much more information about their doctors.
    The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the government agency that runs Medicare, is posting on its website detailed information about how many visits and procedures individual health professionals billed the program for in 2012, and how much they were paid.
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    April 14, 2014

  • HEY HINK: Hateful bullies attempt to muffle free speech

    Hopefully we agree it should be a fundamental right to voice criticism of any religion you wish. And you should have the right to sing the praises of any religion you choose. If criticism of religion is unjust, feel free to make your best argument to prove it. If criticism is just, don’t be afraid to acknowledge and embrace it. If songs of praise are merited, feel free to join in. If not, feel free to ignore them. But no American should participate in curbing free speech just because expression of religious views makes someone uncomfortable.

    April 11, 2014

  • Putting Oklahoma parents in charge

    Oklahoma’s public schools serve many children very well. Still, for various reasons, some students’ needs are better met in private schools, in virtual schools or elsewhere. That is why two state lawmakers have introduced legislation to give parents debit cards, literally, to shop for the educational services that work best for their children.

    April 11, 2014

  • Israelis, Palestinians are losing their chance

    Developments in the Middle East suggest that prospects of success for the Israeli-Palestinian talks, to which Secretary of State John Kerry has devoted countless hours and trips, are weakening.

    April 11, 2014

  • Teens might trade naked selfies for mugshots

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    April 11, 2014


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.

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