By Justin Lofton
ADA — United States Representative Tom Cole does not like the health care bill. The United States Congressman didn’t beat around the bush about the recently passed legislation or the manner in which it was pushed through congress.
“There are no polls that show the majority of people favor this. How can they sit there and vote for these things?” he said. “It’s the most fiscally irresponsible piece of legislation I’ve ever seen.”
During his visit to Ada and at the town hall meeting in Ada on Wednesday night, Cole met with his constituents and spoke about pressing legislative issues.
Audience concerns revolved mostly around the health care bill.
“It’s kind of unconstitutional. It forced people to get health insurance,” resident Roger Shaw said. “You don’t have a whole lot to choose from. It’s based upon your own limited income.” Jeremy Haney, a medical school student, also came to hear what Cole had to say about the health care plan. Others came out of curiosity and a sense of civic responsibility.
“I just wanted to be here to listen and learn,” Susan Haney said. “I’m anxious to hear how people respond to some issues.”
“I came just as a concerned citizen,” Carol Ingram said.
Cole said he believes an effort to repeal and replace the health care bill would get underway quickly. He said any legislative repeal or opposition to the health care bill would be at least a two-election venture, requiring Republicans to gain more legislative—and possibly executive—control. He had little doubt that Republicans would pick up seats in the upcoming elections.
“I do think there’s an anti-incumbent strain out there—no question about it,” he said. “People are disappointed in the direction of Washington. However, by November, I think what is an anti-incumbent sentiment becomes, very much, an anti-Democrat sentiment because they run the White House. They have both houses. It’s the same thing that happened to us in 2006.”
Cole said gaining the presidency may not be as easy as some believe but he thinks Republicans are up to the task.
“(President Obama) may be in a very interesting position. I haven’t been able to talk about this a lot because it just drags you down in the weeds,” he said. “His base numbers are in tact. He’s fine with Democrats. We’re a long way from defeating him but I think he’s lost a lot of luster and I do think we can defeat him.”
Cole encouraged troubled constituents to trust in America’s time-tested system of government.
“Have a little faith in the point of view of the American people and the institution,” he said. “Over time, American society moves as the American people want it to move.”
Although Cole made it clear that he shares his constituents doubts about the stability of the U.S. economy, he also reminded the audience the country has faced worse debt crises.
“You look at debt as how much debt do you have to the size of your economy. Right now, the federal debt is about 40% of the economy. We’ve had it as high as over 100 but that was during the second World War,” he said. “We had higher debt in 1992 as a percentage of the economy than we do today.”