Rep. Tom Cole (R-Oklahoma), a citizen of the Chickasaw Nation, addresses the executive council winter session of the National Congress of American Indians in Washington, D.C., on February 12, 2019. Photo by Indianz.Com (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)

Rep. Tom Cole: Socialism is not the American way

The Democratic Party’s tightening embrace of socialist proposals and politicians is real cause for alarm, especially in a country whose very foundation is liberty. Indeed, the precious freedoms that exist here in America have always set us apart. Just think about how many people still want to come to the United States to have a share in the American dream. That should say a lot about just how precious our freedoms are and why we must never take them for granted.

Because of the freedoms secured by brave patriots long ago and preserved time and again for generations, our land is one of endless opportunity – where hard work, determination and innovation are rewarded, and the American dream can be achieved regardless of where you’ve come from. And it’s because of the underlying foundation of freedom, opportunity and the rule of law. With socialism’s popularity dangerously rising, don’t be deceived. Our framers trusted free people, free speech and free markets for a reason, and we should continue to do so.

In the course of the current presidential campaign, several Democratic presidential candidates have either rolled out or voiced their support for socialist proposals. Even more disconcerting, self-proclaimed socialist Senator Bernie Sanders recently went so far as to offer a measure of praise for communist dictator Fidel Castro of Cuba, yet the regime Castro founded still mistreats and oppresses its own citizens and still associates with other oppressive and corrupt governments. It’s worth remembering that many Cubans have embarked on journeys to flee this oppression and live freely in America – revealing the true state of their oppressed homeland and the dangers posed by communism.

Rep. Tom Cole (R-Oklahoma): Weekly Chat - February 28, 2020)

But the Democratic embrace of socialism extends beyond the presidential debate stage. Throughout this Congress, House Democrats have put forward numerous legislative proposals that are alarmingly radical and, quite simply, socialist in nature. Widely talked about are bills like the so-called Medicare for All and Green New Deal, as well as budget busting proposals for free college tuition and universal basic income.

While it might be appealing to pursue what sounds like the be all end all with Medicare for All, Democrats promised that less than a decade ago with the so-called Affordable Care Act. Back then, Americans were promised they could keep their doctors, that they could stay on their current plans and that their premiums would go down. None of those things turned out to be true, yet Democrats have pushed for a total government takeover of the industry with their Medicare for All proposal. Aside from its staggering cost, estimated at more than $32 trillion over 10 years, Medicare for All would cause more than 158 million Americans to lose their current coverage.

In fact, private health insurance would be completely banned. That means anyone with private, employer-based or union-based health insurance would lose their plans in place of the government’s one-size-fits-all coverage. Even if you like your plan, there’s no question – you really wouldn’t be able to keep it. Moreover, the Medicare system, which millions of recipients have paid taxes into for a lifetime, would be flooded by people who have paid little or nothing into the system.

When it comes to the Green New Deal, Republican opposition to it does not mean Republicans don’t care about the environment. Certainly, there is an abundance of ideas about how we can be better stewards of the earth and good stewards of taxpayer dollars as well. Unfortunately, the Green New Deal is really socialism masking as environmentalism. Even though the plan was presented as the means to save the earth from destruction, only a small part of the plan actually addresses environmental policy. In fact, much of the proposal’s cost would go toward purely socialist policies like a federal job guarantee and “economic security for all who are unable or unwilling to work.”

Several Democratic presidential candidates have echoed the idea of a universal basic income program, providing a regular, taxpayer-funded paycheck to cover basic living expenses, eliminating the value and necessity of work. At a cost of at least $2.8 trillion annually, such a program would not only demolish the federal budget, but it would also discourage people from working at all. The consequences would be disastrous for the nation’s economy and job creators who want to hire more – not less.

America is not a country that thrives because of big government. It thrives because its citizens know that hard work is rewarded, freedom is protected, and individuals can enjoy the fruits of their labor as they see fit. It is that dream of personal freedom and individual property that has defined America as the land of opportunity. It is that opportunity that has and will continue to draw people to our land while making America the envy of the world.

Tom Cole, a citizen of the Chickasaw Nation, is serving his eighth term in Congress as the elected representative of Oklahoma's 4th Congressional District. He is recognized as an advocate for taxpayers and small business, a proponent for a strong national defense and a leader in promoting biomedical research. He is considered the foremost expert in the House on issues dealing with Native Americans and tribal governments. He and his wife, Ellen, have one son, Mason, and reside in Moore, Oklahoma.

Join the Conversation