The Duncan Banner - Linda Provost
The Duncan Rotary Club hosted U.S. Congressman Tom Cole for the last meeting in March.
Cole said he was sorry for the political science lesson but made two main points.
The first point included current members of Congress accomplishing things and the second, Cole said, is no matter the winner of the election, the political parties need to work together get things done.
“This has been the most effective Congress in recent years,” he said. “It is the first Congress since 2001 to pass a budget through the senate and the house and live by it. It is the first congress since 2006 to move all apparition bills through both committees in the house and senate.”
Cole said they also passed a suicide prevention bill for veterans, an anti-human trafficking bill and the first multi-year transportation bill since 2005.
Cole said he is worried this presidential campaign cycle will get very negative because unpopular candidates have won before, they “just have to make the other guy more unpopular.”
“That poses a real challenge to the country. When a president starts that way they are going to start out not very strong,” Cole said.
“The next president is going to have to make some fundamental decisions because our Congress and the president have been unwilling to deal with the biggest single domestic problem – how to balance the budget.”
Cole said the Congressional Budget Office issued a report last year indicating the budget deficit has come down from 1.4 trillion dollars to “only” 430 billion.
“That’s pretty amazing in 5 years, it’s the fastest in American history,” he said.
The problem, according to Cole, is the deficit will go up again because the county is retiring 10,000 baby boomers a day who are all eligible for social security, Medicare and other programs.
“The next president, if they don’t have some sort of Social Security/ Medicare/ Medicaid plan, they will be running for re-election with a rising deficit,” he said.
The plans and budgeting he said were going to have to be worked out within the first two years.
“We are probably going to have a divided government and regardless whether it’s divided or not, both sides are going to have to work together and do something no one likes to do very much which is compromise,” Cole said. “If you don’t do it, you won’t get through the problems.”
Cole made his last point by talking about presidents who accomplished great things while in office with an opposing Party as Congress, like Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton.
“When you are thinking about who you are going to vote for, find somebody who can sit down and make things work,” he said. “A divided government does not have to be a fighting thing. This idea ‘we can’t do it’ is simply not true we are just in a period where we won’t do it.”
Online: The Duncan Banner