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Congressman Tom Cole

Representing the 4th District of Oklahoma

Economy

I have consistently supported legislation and policies to get the nation’s long-term fiscal house in order by balancing the budget and reforming mandatory programs, so we can eventually pay down our debt.

Budget and Spending

The federal government must cut back on spending so that it can run efficiently and effectively for its citizens. Of the more than $3.7 trillion in annual spending by the federal government, about one third is spent on discretionary programs (those that Congress and the president control on an annual basis). But unless we take on the complicated task of reforming the other two thirds of government designated as mandatory spending (mostly entitlement programs), America will eventually go bankrupt.

The real challenge is that the mandatory side of the budget – including interest on the national debt – is by far the largest category and rapidly growing. Numerous facts, figures and economic analyses have for years warned about the unsustainable growth of mandatory spending. For example, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) reported that mandatory represented 34 percent of all government spending in 1965; today, that figure has risen dramatically to reflect more than two-thirds of all spending in 2018. By 2028, mandatory is on track to cover at least 77 percent of all spending.

With mandatory spending, it’s not only the rapid rate of its growth, eclipsing discretionary spending, that is alarming. CBO has also projected that the federal trust funds connected to Medicare and Social Security are quickly nearing insolvency and thus will eventually fail to deliver on the benefits promised. On the current path and according to projections by the Congressional Budget Office, Social Security as a whole is expected to become insolvent in 2032 – with the Social Security Disability Insurance Trust Fund unable to pay out full benefits as early as 2028.

Long Term Reforms

Clearly, to make real progress toward tackling our burden of debt, tough decisions and careful solutions are required. But the solutions must include reforms to save and sustain the mandatory programs serving many vulnerable Americans. I believe a good place to start would be passage of legislation I introduced again this Congress, the Bipartisan Social Security Commission Act. The bill calls for a bipartisan and bicameral commission tasked with recommending reforms to ensure Social Security is solvent for at least 75 years. Congress would then be required to vote up or down on the commission’s recommendations within 60 legislative days. This approach worked in 1983 when the solvency of Social Security was extended by 50 years. It can work again if our political leaders will face up to their responsibilities and work in a bipartisan manner.

More on Economy

March 19, 2019 Weekly Columns
Last week, President Trump sent his annual budget request to Congress for consideration. While the president’s proposal is not binding, it does importantly reveal the Administration’s funding priorities for the coming fiscal year and represents a necessary step in the annual budget and appropriations process.
March 12, 2019 Press Release
Washington, D.C. – Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04) released the following statement after President Donald Trump this week sent his budget request to Congress for fiscal year 2020.
December 20, 2018 Press Release
Washington, D.C. – Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04) released the following statement after the U.S. House of Representatives passed a short-term funding measure to avoid a partial government shutdown. The continuing resolution funds the remaining areas of government at current levels until February 8, 2019. It also includes additional funding for border security and disaster relief.
October 26, 2018 Weekly Columns

Following the recently ended fiscal year, it was reported that the federal government’s budget deficit increased significantly compared to the previous year. While this is certainly discouraging news, the existence of a deficit is not surprising or unusual. Critics are of course quick to blame the implementation of tax reform as the chief contributor to the recent deficit. However, the reality is that another factor has for years been driving deficits and as a result, adding to the national debt.

October 1, 2018 Weekly Columns

Last week, Congress responsibly fulfilled its most fundamental duty to the American people by funding some of the nation’s most critical and pressing needs. The legislation signed into law by the president not only provides funding to strengthen and support our national defense, but it ensures vital programs and initiatives that serve all Americans can continue to do so effectively. While this recent action by Congress and the president is unquestionably good news for the country, I am proud that it also marks a historic and much-needed return to governing by regular order.

June 12, 2018 Weekly Columns
Our economy is witnessing an exciting change that is affecting millions. With thousands of new jobs and a reformed, working tax system, Americans everywhere are benefitting from the recent economic boost that is bound to deliver continued long-term results. But in just a few short months, our nation’s economy has seen the immediate effects of healthy economic and tax policies.
 
May 7, 2018 Weekly Columns
As Congress reaches the final stretches of its 115th session, the House can reflect on a long list of accomplishments it has achieved since the beginning of the session. Despite the constant discussions that partisan gridlock may be the new norm, it has been quite the opposite. Since the beginning of the 115th Congress, the House has passed 598 bills – 470 of which are sitting in the Senate with no action. That means almost 79% of all legislation passed thus far have yet to see the Senate Floor or the President’s desk.
March 19, 2018 Weekly Columns
This past year, the United States has been experiencing a welcome surge in economic growth. The economic successes America is enjoying is surely due to the hard work and ingenuity of the American people, the implementation of the Republican tax reform and President Trump’s initiative to bring American companies back home. In general, free trade contributes to our national prosperity as well. However, having open markets is not an invitation for others to take advantage of us. When bad actors exist, we have every right to use our power to protect our interests.
February 6, 2018 Weekly Columns
After his first year in the White House, President Trump and his Administration have much of which to be proud. Their accomplishments have delivered actual results, and the country is continuing to reap the benefits of those changes. During his first State of the Union speech, the President reinforced those achievements – many of which will certainly be remembered as signature accomplishments of his Presidency. Looking forward, he outlined an optimistic future for our nation, with a strong legislative agenda for the next year.
 
January 29, 2018 Weekly Columns
If you are an American taxpayer, you most likely have bills that need to be paid on a schedule, like an electric bill or a car payment. For many taxpayers, paying those bills might just get a little easier this year. The new tax code has already promised bigger paychecks for individuals and families, but the wave of its effects since passage into law is being realized across the nation from the corporate level to the individual taxpayer.

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