Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

January 27, 2014

Citizen rights, health act top issues

Ezra Mann
Pauls Valley Democrat

emann@pvdemocrat.com — A Pauls Valley stop this week by U.S. Rep. Tom Cole did not have the usual fanfare or attendance like one of his town hall meetings, but it was still an opportunity for residents to get up to date and voice their concerns.

Updating attendees at the PV Chamber of Commerce office with accomplishments like the fourth straight year of cuts in discretionary spending for the House of Representatives, some of the immediate concerns addressed dealt with the rights of private citizens.

Practices by the NSA (National Security Administration) was one concern brought up by a man in attendance, who wondered what could be done to ensure the government could not just collect information that is usually protected by private entities like cell phone companies or Internet providers.

“I’d really prefer they spent more money on individuals like they used to involved in getting this information than pulling in all of this billions of information that nobody seems to know what to do with,” said a concerned woman in attendance. “They seem to put all of the security in this technology.”

The same man noted how the data collected is often subject to being hacked into in a computer Cole answered noting how there are efforts to try and change practices where the agency would have to go to a court, present reasonable cause just like they would any other wiretapping case, and not have it where they can go right to it. Cole noted how it is a debate that will continue because of how complicated dealing with technology in this way can be.

“I think you’re exactly right, I think there is a concern about that… one of the recommendations is that this will be taken out of government hands, storing of all of the data,” said Cole.

“Get it away from the government before the government has any access to it… Again people are concerned and I think there will be a real effort to do the right thing here.”

Cole also took the opportunity to clear up a misconception one visitor expressed about the constitution and the ability to filibuster by Congress being removed by noting that it is not a right covered by the sacred document.

He noted how filibustering, which is still allowed, is actually something defined by said governing body and said the only big loss he saw recently was the ability to filibuster nominations for federal judges.

“Honestly this was something we threatened to do when we had majority in 2007,” said Cole.

“But that’s the difference in being the minority in the Senate and being the president of the United States.”

One of the other major areas brought up by attendees was the power of the president and of the Supreme Court, one instance discussed involving how Justice John Roberts ruled in 2012 to uphold the Affordable Care Act.

While Cole has noted his disapproval of what he termed Obama Care and sympathized with those there that felt it was unconstitutional, he noted that as he saw the justice’s opinion as a statement that people have to deal with the decisions of the officials the majority elected each term.

Cole further explained how it is a government policy and not a freedom issue with the chance there each election to choose people that could change policy.

He stated that the only way something like the Affordable Care Act will be defeated by opponents is to change leadership and gain a majority.

“You want to control the executive branch, win the presidency,” said Cole, noting this is true no matter the issue.

“You can blame the other side when they’re playing well enough to win and they’re playing by the same rules.”