Despite challenges, U.S. Rep Tom Cole optimistic about U.S. future
BY WAYNE GREENE World Senior Writer
Thursday, November 01, 2012
11/01/12 at 4:11 AM
The American people are headed into a presidential election evenly divided between two sharply differentiated parties.
Big-time political donors are paying millions so their messages can drown out the opposition.
Washington at times seems unable to do anything regardless of who is in office.
And yet, U.S. Rep. Tom Cole remains an optimist.
In fact, the Oklahoma Republican says, the challenges facing the nation aren't even all that great from a historic perspective; and, with a little leadership from both sides, a great deal can be accomplished in the near future, regardless of who wins next week's presidential election.
"We are in a very turbulent period in American history, and we have a series of difficult challenges ... but they are not greater than others Americans have faced, and we are better off, better educated, more secure, with more mature political institutions than we have ever had," Cole told a luncheon of the Tulsa Metro Chamber on Wednesday at the Doubletree Hotel Downtown. "So this idea that we can't do it, if we accept that, shame on us."
Despite concerns about perceived gridlock in Washington, Cole said big things have been accomplished through compromise during the Obama administration.
The Bush administration tax cuts have been extended, payroll taxes were trimmed and extended unemployment benefits were approved in a bipartisan compromise.
Subsequently, Congress and the president approved the largest cut in federal discretionary spending since World War II.
Later, the federal debt ceiling was raised, and another plan for cutting the federal budget was approved.
A national transportation bill, three foreign trade agreements and a plan to prevent a sharp spike in interest on student loans also have been approved.
And, Cole said, it was all done with both sides agreeing to give up a little of what they wanted.
In the first six to eight months of the next presidency - whether Barack Obama or Mitt Romney is the president - more can be accomplished, he said.
"We are not in some sort of deadlock," Cole said. "I absolutely think we'll get through the next several years regardless of who wins the election."
Of course, Cole wants Romney to be that winner, and he spent part of his presentation talking about the reasons for that. But most of his time was spent reverting back to his old occupation of American history professor and talking about the reasons why contemporary Americans should shake off their pessimism.
In 1776, the American people decided to take on the world's most powerful empire, and after winning independence, they overcame the problem of creating a unified nation out of a collection of independent-minded colonies.
In 1861, the American nation literally split over the outcome of a presidential election and went to war.
In 1938, Cole's father would have jumped at the notion of a nation with 8 percent unemployment.
In his own lifetime, Cole said the nation has overcome the challenge of nuclear annihilation, assassinations and Watergate.
Nothing about the current situation makes it insurmountable, except possibly our attitude, Cole said.
"The only thing I worry about when I look at politics and the elections right now," Cole said, "is the mood of pessimism among the American people ... as if we face some challenges that are unique, that Americans have never faced in the past."
Original Print Headline: Cole optimistic U.S. can solve its problems
Wayne Greene 918-581-8308
U.S. Rep. Tom Cole speaks Wednesday to the Tulsa Metro Chamber at the Doubletree Hotel Downtown. STEPHEN PINGRY/Tulsa World