The benefits of Congressman Tom Cotton’s Harvard education became clear yesterday when he succinctly told two lies in just 140 characters on Twitter.

@TomCottonAR -

@SenMarkPryor had simple choice: keep govt open or keep his special Obamacare exemption. He put himself first, not Arkansas. #arsen #arpx

Only a Harvard-trained attorney like Cotton could manage to cram so much baloney into so few words.

Let’s start with Cotton’s first falsehood. Cotton is disingenuous by attempting to blame the Senate, and Mark Pryor, for the federal government shutdown. The reason the federal government shut down this week is because of House Republicans, plain and simple.

House Republicans passed continuing resolutions to keep the government running that they knew would either be rejected by the Senate or vetoed by President Obama since they included a defunding or delay of implementing Obamacare.

House Republicans could have sent a “clean” resolution to the Senate without the Obamacare components, but chose not to. Cotton and other House Republicans are calling on the Democrats to compromise, but in a compromise both sides concede something. Republicans are asking the President to concede by delaying implementation of his signature piece of legislation. In return, Republicans are willing to reopen the government. That is not a compromise, that’s political extortion.

Cotton is not telling the truth when he blames Mark Pryor and the U.S. Senate for the government shutdown.

But it’s the second point that Tom Cotton hits upon in his Tweet that is the most galling. Cotton and other Republicans claim the Congress exempted themselves from Obamacare. Frankly, this is a lie.

CNN has a helpful, and brief, explanation of how members of Congress and their staff are not exempt from Obamacare. They already had health care prior to the passage of the Affordable Care Act, just like those of us who get health care through our employer. However, an amendment pushed through by Republican Senator Chuck Grassley during the 2009 Obamacare debate created confusion about Congress and their health care access.

Ironically, Speaker John Boehner has publicly spouted this false talking point of Congressional exemption from Obamacare, but according to emails released today, privately the Speaker has been attempting to the fix the problem created by Senator Grassley.

Sadly, Tom Cotton has chosen to play D.C. politics and not tell the truth on this issue.

The bad news for Tom Cotton is public polling has placed the blame for the shutdown squarely at the Republic Party’s feet.

Tom Cotton’s vote to shut down the government helps Democrats make the case that he is a reckless partisan politician who puts his extreme agenda before the needs of Arkansans.

A long-term government shutdown would be disastrous for Arkansas.

And the longer the shutdown continues, the more it politically hurts Tom Cotton and other Congressional Republicans.

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Michael Cook is the moderator for his opinion blog, Cook's Outlook. He can be reached by e-mail at Michael@CooksOutlook.com. Follow him on Twitter: @mcookAR or on Facebook: facebook.com/CooksOutlook.