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
It's not hard to find examples of wasteful government spending. The IRS has its own television studio that costs taxpayers $4 million per year to operate. The National Science Foundation paid seniors $1.2 million to play video games for a study. Just last year, the government shelled out an estimated $115 billion in payments to ineligible individuals. Not to mention the 90 different green energy programs across 11 different federal agencies that are eating up government resources, according to the Washington Post.
President Obama's State of the Union address was even more disappointing than his inauguration speech. Once again, the president disregarded the gravity of our economic challenges and outlined an old-school liberal agenda that is utterly out of step with our problems.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04) released the following statement after President Obama delivered his annual State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress:
"President Obama's assessment of the state of our union fails to appreciate the gravity of our economic challenges.
It's officially budget season in Washington -- the period from January to April when the president, House and Senate are all legally required to produce a budget plan to establish spending priorities for the coming year and beyond. As it has for four of the past five years, the process formally commenced with President Obama failing to submit his budget blueprint by the statutory deadline.
In his second inaugural address, President Obama did not utter the word "debt" a single time. While the president had no hesitation discussing policies to increase spending, he remained virtually silent regarding the most important and urgent challenge currently threatening the nation's future.
Much of the recent coverage of 11th-hour legislative deals and partisan stalemates focuses on negotiations between House Republican leadership and the White House. Yet the most underreported factor in the habitual Washington gridlock of the past two years is the failure of the Democratic Senate to do its job.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04) released the following statement after House passage of H.R. 325–The No Budget, No Pay Act:
"The Senate's failure to pass a budget in nearly four years is disgraceful. House Republicans have voted repeatedly to cut spending, but progress in reducing the debt is impossible without cooperation from Senate Democrats.
President Obama spent the last press briefing of his first term lecturing Congress to "pay the bills they have already racked up." "They" is a curious choice of pronoun for a president who has accumulated more debt than any chief executive in history.
Weekly Standard - John McCormack
After the 113th Congress was officially sworn in on January 3, one of the first orders of business was to approve new rules under which the legislative process will operate during this session of Congress. House Resolution 5, the House Rules Package for the 113th Congress, not only outlines procedural guidelines for the legislative session but establishes a framework for scaling back the size and scope of the federal government.