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Congressman Tom Cole

Representing the 4th District of Oklahoma

Securing the American Promise

August 18, 2014
Weekly Columns

All across the world, the United States of America is recognized as a nation where individuals and families can flourish. Because our country has always valued hard work, we seek to achieve, and we often succeed because opportunity lives here. Stories of success overflow from the earliest Americans to our current Americans. And this great American promise of success is a legacy that we expect and desire to pass on to our children and our children’s children.

Sadly, the brightness of this promise has faded in recent years due to a struggling economy that has yielded fewer job opportunities and brought greater debt. Without serious, intentional changes to the current trajectory, we will be forced to leave a mess for future generations, instead of the abundant inheritance that many of us have enjoyed.

Certainly, Americans are shaken by the problems that seem to grow by the day, including nearly $17.7 trillion in debt, 3.2 million long-term unemployed people and national security troubles overseas and at our own borders. Rather than accept an unfortunate reality, however, Republicans have worked in the midst of divided government to offer real solutions that will restore and secure the promise of the American dream. But we cannot act alone to implement these solutions. 

There are now more than 40 pieces of House-passed legislation awaiting action in the Democratic-led Senate that encourage innovation and job creation, improve the workforce and facilitate economic recovery. One such piece of legislation that addresses the growing number of long-term unemployed is the SKILLS Act that would provide training programs to equip these individuals for a wider range of job opportunities.

While there are numerous contributing factors to our poor employment situation and economic recovery, the president’s healthcare law isn’t helping. Rather than make healthcare more affordable, Obamacare puts a greater financial burden on individuals, families and job creators by imposing billions in new taxes and instituting unnecessary mandates and regulations.

I certainly agree that we should look for solutions that encourage rather than force people to purchase health insurance, especially those who haven’t been able to afford coverage in the past. In a struggling economy, Americans want insurance that saves their hardworking dollars, fits in with their budgets and provides as much or as little coverage as desired or needed. Republicans believe that any changes to our system should be focused on and committed to the unique needs of every patient and encourage competition amongst providers and across states, reflecting market-based ideas rather than allowing a government to inefficiently manage an industry it doesn’t understand.

Other Republican-offered solutions for improving our economic situation would also strengthen our national security. Most significant is TransCanada’s still-pending application to construct the Keystone XL pipeline nearly 2,200 days ago. In the last Congress alone, the House voted six times to advance construction of the pipeline. Last year, a bipartisan House approved the Northern Route Approval Act, legislation that expedites the application process. As lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have noted over the last several years that we’ve waited for a decision from the Administration, Keystone would boost the economy, create thousands of jobs, lessen our dependence on foreign energy and wouldn’t cost taxpayers anything.

In times of economic uncertainty and mounting national security issues, we must also remember the countless men and women who selflessly answered the call of duty. It is because of their dedicated service and sacrifice that puts us at ease and allows us to feel safe. Unfortunately, this Administration has recommended deeper cuts to our military than any other aspect of government.

With mounting crises overseas, we are reminded that the strength of our military presence and readiness speaks to both our enemies and allies. When our military is weak, our nation is seen as a target by our enemies and less stable or dependable to our allies. Making our military weaker inevitably makes the world more dangerous and runs the risk of increasing the number and severity of conflicts around the globe. This is not the sort of world that we want to leave to the next generation.

Our children and grandchildren are the future doctors, teachers, engineers, soldiers, writers, business people and community leaders. Despite our differences, lawmakers must work together to ensure the same American promise that has fueled generations long before us to do great things and has allowed them to feel safe in our land. Republicans have already started the dialogue and await the participation of the Senate and President Obama.