Cole Opening Statement During House Budget Committee Markup
Washington, D.C. - Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04) offered the following opening remarks today during the House Budget Committee markup of the budget blueprint for fiscal year 2015, “The Path to Prosperity: A Responsible, Balanced Budget.” This plan would cut $5.1 trillion in spending, repeal Obamacare and balance the budget in 10 years:
Mr. Chairman, I applaud you for putting together this budget. I know from the many meetings that we’ve had on this side of the aisle that there was a lot of thought put into how we can maintain our commitment to fiscal balance, given the mounting debt and the overall deterioration of our economic growth—brought about in part by the over $17 trillion national debt.
Additionally, Mr. Chairman, I want to thank you again for not backing down and dealing with the true drivers of our debt: entitlement programs. It would have been very easy, given that the Bipartisan Budget Act set the 302(a) allocation for fiscal year 2015, to not do a budget. However, this budget, this blueprint, yet again allows us to share our vision for the future.
I was disappointed to see that the president reversed himself and his budget submission, removing chained CPI from his budget proposal. However, the House Republicans are willing to work with the president where possible and find common ground that will move our debt trajectory downward instead of increasing at an exponential rate.
Additionally, I am encouraged that the cap set in the Bipartisan Budget Act for fiscal year 2015 is included in this budget. As a member of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, I’ve seen the devastating cuts in strength and capabilities we will continue to face if we continue with sequester. And instead of going back to the well this year with even more discretionary cuts, we’ve redoubled our efforts in entitlement programs to ensure that they are available for all in the future. Frankly, I do not think the defense cuts contained in the Budget Control Act are either wise or sustainable. Congress and the Administration must address this issue no later than early next year.
Many have criticized this budget for moving the goalpost and now transitioning to a premium support model for those 56 and below. However, Mr. Chairman, we have to face facts: every year that we do not act it becomes harder and harder to preserve the current programs for those already at or near retirement. This budget recognizes that hard reality and adjusts itself accordingly.
I hope this budget serves as a wake-up call that it’s time to act. I know here in Washington that we can become anesthetized to the problems facing the country. But they are real, and they must be addressed.
This budget reflects the Republican vision for the future, one where we control our destiny as opposed to turning over control to our creditors. I implore my friends across the aisle to seek common ground in our entitlement reform proposals so that these programs that we all find so important can be preserved for future generations.