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
Tulsa World - Randy Krehbiel
U.S. Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., thinks he was only stating the obvious when he told a roomful of Republican members of Congress they should go along with Democrats in making temporary tax-rate reductions permanent for 98 percent of Americans.
Politico - Tom Cole: John Boehner will make ‘tough’ fiscal cliff deal
Republican Rep. Tom Cole, the Oklahoma congressman who has called for a quick extension of middle class tax cuts, offered praise on Thursday for House Speaker John Boehner.
“I think the Speaker’s doing a great job,” Cole said on CNN’s “Starting Point.” “I think at the end of the day, he’ll negotiate a tough deal. Every time he’s done that, I’ve been there and voted for that and tried to persuade others. I haven’t seen the deal yet, but I suspect I’ll be there again.”
Bloomberg - Kathleen Hunter & Roxana Tiron
Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) Chief Executive Officer Lloyd Blankfein is among the executives scheduled to meet with President Barack Obama today. The president is seeking business support for his campaign to extend tax cuts for middle-income Americans while letting rates rise for top earners.
Washington Post - Aaron Blake
Much of the news coverage of the so-called “fiscal cliff” in recent days has focused on whether Republicans are willing to violate their Grover Norquist-sponsored pledge not to vote to raise taxes.
But what if the the Norquist pledge doesn’t even apply to the current situation?
Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) doesn’t think it does. And Norquist and his group — Americans for Tax Reform — aren’t saying that Cole is wrong.
Politico - Jonathan Allen
Republican Rep. Tom Cole urged colleagues in a private session Tuesday to vote to extend the Bush tax rates for all but the highest earners before the end of the year — and to battle over the rest later.
The Oklahoma Republican said in an interview with POLITICO that he believes such a vote would not violate Grover Norquist’s anti-tax pledge and that he’s not alone within Republican circles.
The Hill - Russell Berman
Meeting with his conference for the first time since the election, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Wednesday told his troops to settle in for a long battle over the “fiscal cliff.”
“Sit back, this is going to take a while,” Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) said in characterizing Boehner’s message at the closed-door meeting.
In once again electing a Republican House of Representatives, Democratic Senate and Democratic White House, the American people voted to maintain the status quo in Washington's balance of power. While the composition of the legislative and executive branches may remain the same, a continuation of current economic policies is not an option.
The last unemployment report to be released before the election reiterates how far we have to go to reach pre-recession levels of prosperity. The 7.9 percent unemployment rate recorded for October is up slightly from September's 7.8 percent. Even more discouraging, it is slightly higher than the 7.8 percent recorded when President Obama first took office while the recession was at its peak.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04) released the following statement after the death of Skip Healey:
"I was shocked and saddened to learn of the death of longtime Republican and civic leader Skip Healey of Davis. Skip has been a fixture in GOP politics for over 50 years, serving as the Budget Committee chairman of the Oklahoma Republican Party for over four decades, as well as national committeeman, a district and county official and a leader in countless political campaigns at the state and national level.
The latest discouraging economic news provides a sobering reminder of exactly what is at stake when Congress reconvenes to address the "fiscal cliff" issues at the end of this year. The most recent economic growth report shows almost no growth to speak of. At a weak 1.3 percent for the quarter, the economic growth rate showed a decline from the previous quarter's 2 percent growth and is well below the 1.7 percent growth that had been projected. Additionally, demand for durable goods plunged by 13.2 percent in August with much of the decrease due to weak demand in the airplane and automob