The Norman Transcript

April 19, 2014

Congressman Cole reflects on recovery

By Joy Hampton
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — Congressman Tom Cole’s home in Moore was not hit by the May 20 tornado but it came pretty close. His wife has made it clear she wants a saferoom, he said.

In a visit to the Transcript on Friday afternoon, Cole talked about tornado response and recovery, reducing the deficit and the future of the U.S. Postal Service.

Cole said he is “extraordinarily satisfied” with the federal response to the Moore tornado.

“We get something like $50 million,” he said.

The public and private response to last year’s tragedy that left dozens homeless in his hometown was immediate and bountiful, and recovery continues to move forward.

“My family has lived in the district or on the border of this district for 160 years,” Cole said of District 4, his area of representation.

Cole’s parents were raised in Ardmore but his dad took a job at Tinker Air Force Base. Cole has remained fiercely protective of Oklahoma’s largest employer.

“It’s the biggest economic engine in Oklahoma,” he said of Tinker.

Defense cuts will mean short term and long term effects on Oklahoma’s military bases.

“We’re going to have fewer planes, and the ones we have are going to have to fly longer,” he said.

Tinker remains vital to Oklahoma residents.

“The community support here is unbelievable,” Cole said.

Congress will continue to work on reducing the deficit.

“It’s actually the most rapid decline in history,” he said, but that has come through cutting discretionary spending and those results are not all good. That means America is spending less on the military. Added revenue through tax hikes have also reduced the deficit.

Cole said more entitlement reforms are needed and that farm subsidies that once went to large corporations have been decreased.

Cole stands by the states’ rights to control minimum wage based on local cost of living.

“I’m not for raising it (minimum wage) at the federal level,” he said.

Because this is an election year, postal reform may not make it to the table despite that some members of Congress are hopeful. Cole said the U.S. Postal Service has many challenges ahead and reform will be necessary.

“The market is changing,” he said.

As he enters another campaign cycle, Cole said he supports the two year re-election of U.S. Representatives. He’s often out in the district anyway.

“You learn a lot when you talk to your constituents,” he said.

Campaign season shouldn’t mean a change in the legislative agenda.

“I think it’s a big mistake to time legislative achievement,” he said. “You’re usually better off to do the things that you believe are the right things to do.”

Cole has four challengers in the upcoming race: Democrats Tae Si, 27, of Norman and Bert Smith, 66, of Moore;  Republican  Anna Flatt, 46, of Ardmore and Independent Dennis B. Johnson, 74, of Moore.

Joy Hampton




Breaking news, severe weather alerts, AMBER alerts, sports scores from The Norman Transcript are available as text messages right to your phone or mobile device. You decide which type of alerts you want to receive. Find out more or to signup, click here.