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March 20, 2014

Cole says mililtary cuts ‘could cause problems’

DUNCAN — U.S. Rep. Tom Cole, R-Oklahoma, expressed concern on Wednesdsay about the reduction of U.S. armed forces in remarks during two appearances in Duncan.

“I’m not happy about it. There are going to be fewer soldiers coming in. We’ll lose reserve capabilities. It will impact hundreds of jobs at Tinker (Air Force Base),” he said.

Cole discussed U.S. military strength during appearances at the Duncan Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Wednesday morning and the Rotary Club at noon.

The U.S. Army has decreased to 522,000 soldiers and is expected to drop to about 440,000 to 450,000 soldiers by 2018, Cole said.

Military cutbacks give a negative impression to other countries, including allies who rely on military support  from the U.S., and come during a time of increased aggression by Russia, which has sent troops into the Crimean Peninsula of Ukraine.

 “The foreign policy stuff is heating up,” Cole said. “This stuff could cause problems.”

Cole said some of the decisions, including the decrease in military forces, have negatively affected Americans’ views on their own government.

Although foreign policies concerns have increased,  Cole said the biggest problem America faces is the spending by the federal government.

He said the federal deficit is starting to trend down after several years of high spending, but he doesn’t think it will be long before the spending goes back up.

The next increase will be the result of Social Security payouts for Baby Boomers who will reach the age of 65 in the next 19 years. He said there will be about 3.5 million people reaching 65 each year through the end of the Baby Boomer Generation.

“It’s not something anyone did wrong,” Cole said. “It’s the fact modern medicine did a lot of things right. It’s not a bad thing, but it’s an expensive thing.”

Cole said many are concerned about the status of Social Security. He said many of those people are around his age or older — he’s 64 — but have nothing to worry about. Those who should be most concerned are the younger generation, he said.

“People who need to worry are the people in their 20s and 30s,” Cole said.

He said American citizens have grown to distrust the two largest political parties (Democrats and Republicans). As a result, members of both parties are trying to not make waves with their constituents.

“I think both sides are on their best behavior going into the election,” Cole said. “The American people aren’t really happy with either party. The country is much more polarized than it’s ever been. It’s much more divided than it’s ever been.’

 If the people are not happy with their legislators in Washington, they will fire them to get the right people in office, he predicted.

“Over time, trust the American people,” Cole said. “They’ll make the right decision. Over time, it will run like they want it to.”

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Duncan Vice Mayor Mike Nelson talks during Wednesday's Duncan Rotary meeting.

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