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Congressman Tom Cole

Representing the 4th District of Oklahoma

We Must Pick Winning Battles

October 28, 2013
Weekly Columns

As described, established and intended in the United States Constitution, our nation’s government is broken into three separate branches.  Like the people that make up our country, each branch provides a unique perspective and represents differing points of view. When one party controls both chambers of Congress and the White House, America tends to look more unified and productive. But even in divided government, we can find ways to function, achieve common ground and make all voices heard and considered.

Without question, Republicans strongly oppose Obamacare. No Republicans voted for it in 2010, and since that time, there have been numerous battles to modify, repeal, delay or defund it. Even though the president’s healthcare law is still the law of the land, we must not forget the victories won, including the passage of seven partial-repeal bills that were signed into law by the president. These bills have saved taxpayers at least $62 billion, lessening some of the harmful effects of the law.
Government shutdown was and still is a bad idea, and using it as a tactic to defund Obamacare was unproductive. That’s why I warned against it for months and months. It punishes federal employees through furloughs, costs the country millions and stalls access to important government services. I remain strongly opposed to Obamacare and will continue to vote for ways to lessen its blow on Americans. While full repeal is certainly the goal, as long as the president is in the White House and Democrats preside over the Senate, repeal of Obamacare is extremely unlikely.

That doesn’t mean that we lack fighting grounds on Obamacare or future proposals and initiatives coming from the Administration. In the meantime, we must be realistic about our limits and know when the fight is possible to win. Success is defined not only by what you are able to accomplish but also what you are able to prevent. As long as Republicans hold the House, President Obama will never have Democrats to rubber stamp his ideas again. But until we preside over the Senate and White House, we should appreciate the “checks and balances” at work and claim success as the “blocking majority.”  
Obamacare is doomed for failure on its own. While we cannot stop implementation of the law, we have the opportunity to highlight its problems, including the unfair individual mandate, unaffordable plans and website glitches. Upon launch of the website on October 1, it has been nothing but a headache for potential applicants, resulting in few people actually signing up for coverage. In addition, despite being told by the president that if they like their current insurance they could keep it, many consumers are being forced to pay more for a product they don't want and can't afford.

Due to the Obamacare website’s inability to handle high traffic, save most user information or provide helpful customer service, it’s obvious that the site isn’t ready for primetime. Unfortunately, until the president recognizes that he’s selling a broken product, individuals will be forced to purchase insurance or pay a fine. This is still just the beginning, not the end, of the problems with Obamacare.
At the end of the day, we were all born into the greatest nation on earth, and we are still capable of achieving great things—even in divided government. I will continue looking for ways to lessen the harm of the law, but we must find common ground on other issues. We must never lose sight of our tremendous potential or stop fighting for our convictions, but we must pick battles that are possible to win.