By: Logan Pierce, Editor-in-Chief
On March 13, U.S. Rep. Tom Cole met with members of the Student Senate to field questions relating to the political season and government policy.
Cole talked about the President’s tax plan. “People will be waiting on the election,” Cole said, “The winner will determine the course for this country.”
No one wants to make any sweeping changes in Washington, until after the election, resulting in what is known as a “lame duck” Congress.
“The lame duck session is sort of like the Mayan calendar,” Cole said, “Everything’s coming to a head in 2012.” The Bush tax cuts are among the policies ending this year.
Slashing spending across the board
The reduction of spending has been a focus of Congress in recent years. Their goal was to cut $2.2 trillion in spending by the end of 2011. Having succeeded in cutting only $1 trillion, the remaining amount will be cut from all departments.
“If you care about the military, these cuts will be enormous,” Cole said. Between cuts this year and last year, the military will have sustained $1 trillion in reduced spending. These cuts are an attempt to reduce the impact of the stimulus package passed in 2009.
Cole talked about the political season, with Obama being the de facto Democratic nomination, and the Republicans deciding between Romney, Gingrich or Santorum.
“It’s going to be a very close presidential election,” Cole said, “People forget that it was also close last time with 46 percent of the vote going to McCain.” As it is with most elections, it all comes down to the swing states.
The presidential election is not the only hotly contested race. “The Senate’s going to be close,” Cole said, “Control will be split 51/49 percent either way.” Cole felt more confident about the Republicans retaining control of the House. “It’s unlikely the House will shift control,” Cole said.
In this presidential election, Cole acknowledges an edge for the incumbent. “I would make President Obama the favorite,” Cole said, “The election will be close, but favor Obama.”
Cole emphasized what was at stake this year. “This is probably the most important election in America since 1980,” Cole said,” I really think it will be that important.”
Questions from the Senate
Following these remarks, Cole took questions from the Student Senate and guests.
Maryann Scroggins, student senator, asked, “Who would you like to see be the Republican nominee?” “All the guys who didn’t run,” Cole said, eliciting laughter from the crowd, “I didn’t endorse anyone, but Romney has the edge.”
Win or lose, the outcome of the 2012 election will be a referendum on Obama. “If America thinks the president has done a good job, he’ll get reelected,” Cole said.
One question Cole answered pertained to Ugandan guerrilla leader Joseph Kony, with students wanting to know if Washington planned to step in.
Cole said that America is doing things to help, but can always do more. Broadening the topic to foreign aid in general, Cole discussed U.S. relations with the Middle East. “We give money to places like Egypt and Israel to prevent war,” Cole said. As high as gas prices are now, unrest in the Middle East will only continue to drive the price up.
Not holding Obama’s energy policies in high esteem, Cole cites that the administration is hostile toward oil and natural gas production. “When you’ve got energy secretary Chu saying ‘higher gas prices are a good thing,’ the opposition remembers comments like that,” Cole said.
When asked which of today’s issues will have the biggest impact on future generations, Cole replied excessive long-term spending. “We’re going to spend you guys into bankruptcy unless we come to grips with this.” The Student Senate meets Tuesdays at 2 p.m. in SC 123.