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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

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.
January 17, 2018 Weekly Columns
This week, the House will once again consider another funding measure to keep the government running and to avoid the possibility of a government shutdown. This spending bill will be the fourth Fiscal Year 2017 continuing resolution that the House has taken up to fund federal agencies, the military and a wide range of discretionary programs. Unfortunately, this means that the federal government is going to continue to run on funding levels that were set more than a year ago.
January 8, 2018 Weekly Columns
When the American people elected President Trump and a Republican majority, they expected big things in 2017. This past year brought with it several positive changes because the Trump administration and Congress have been focused on the American people’s priorities. One of the biggest accomplishments was the first major tax reform in more than three decades. And that’s just in year one. The American economy has grown tremendously since the beginnings of President Trump’s first days in office, and the growth trend seems likely to continue into 2018.
 
January 1, 2018 Weekly Columns
When the year 2017 began, Congress opened the new Congressional Session with the Trump Administration to “Make America Great Again.” As the year comes to a close, Congress and the Trump Administration can be proud of what they have accomplished together. Under its first year with President Trump, Congress has accomplished many of its legislative goals, and the President has fulfilled a number of his campaign promises. Although there is much work to be done in the coming year, we can reflect on this year’s legislative accomplishments with a sense of success.
December 19, 2017 Press Release
Washington, D.C. – Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04) released the following statement after the passage of the Conference Report for H.R. 1, The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.
December 18, 2017 Weekly Columns
This week, Congress will start to wrap up its first legislative year and work to accomplish some of its major objectives. This year has been a productive one, but we are racing to the finish line to accomplish two of our most important priorities – funding the government and tax reform.
 
October 26, 2017 Press Release
Washington, D.C. – Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04) released the following statement after the House passed the Senate Amendment to H. Con. Res. 71, the Senate version of the Fiscal Year 2018 Budget Resolution.
October 16, 2017 Weekly Columns
Our federal budget is a critical part of keeping our government functioning. It sets the boundaries and framework for how much money the federal government should spend on various federal programs and agencies. It is a fundamental measurement to help control spending and balance federal expenditures. However, for the past few years, the national debt has risen at an alarming rate. Just like a credit card can garner debt, so can the government.
 
October 5, 2017 Press Release
Washington, D.C. – Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04) released the following statement after the House passed H. Con. Res. 71, the Fiscal Year 2018 Budget Resolution.
May 23, 2017 News Stories
The Republican leadership in Congress wants to cut spending on public health and repeal Obamacare. Yet when it comes to medical research, they’re willing to throw down extra — even when President Trump wants to cut back.

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