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
WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Congressman Tom Cole (OK-4) released the following statement after the bipartisan passage of H.R. 5872, the Sequestration Transparency Act of 2012. The legislation would require the president to submit to Congress a detailed report on how his administration plans to implement the sequestration spending cuts set to begin in 2013.
"There is strong bipartisan agreement that the sequester is a terrible policy that should not be allowed to happen. These automatic, arbitrary cuts could cost Oklahoma's economy up to 16,000 jobs and $630 million.
WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Congressman Tom Cole (OK-4) released the following statement after President Obama announced his plan to raise taxes for families and businesses earning more than $250,000 per year. According to analysis by the Joint Committee on Taxation, the tax increases would hit 53 percent of small business income. House Republicans will vote before August to extend tax relief for all tax brackets.
The Supreme Court decision on Obamacare paved the way for $675 billion in new taxes over the next decade. But that's just the tip of the iceberg. Unless Congress takes action, tax rates for all tax brackets will increase on January 1, 2013.
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke refers to the looming tax hike deadline as a "fiscal cliff" while the media coined the term "Taxmageddon" to describe the magnitude of the economic disruption that will occur if the current tax rates are not renewed.
"We do not consider whether the Act embodies sound policies. That judgment is entrusted to the Nation's elected leaders."
WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Congressman Tom Cole (OK-4) released the following statement after the Senate on Thursday voted 95-4 in favor of an amendment prohibiting taxpayer funding of political conventions. The amendment to the farm bill, sponsored by Sen. Tom Coburn, is based on legislation Cole and Coburn each introduced earlier this month. Cole has introduced similar legislation in 2009 and 2011.
Ronald Reagan's famous statement that "a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this Earth" remains frustratingly true. Although Congress has finally begun to cut billions in recognition of the growing threat posed by the massive national debt, many spending programs persist for no justifiable reason. So many budget items continue to be funded due to sheer inertia or political self-interest -- not because they successfully fulfill a worthwhile government function.
Month after month, Americans continue to be pummeled with bad economic news. The dismal employment reports and sobering economic outlooks released in the past few days maintain the unfortunate trend.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04) today introduced H.R. 5912, legislation to terminate taxpayer financing of party conventions. Since 1976, over $220 million of taxpayer funds have been spent on presidential nominating conventions for such expenses as make-up artists, political consulting fees, gift bags, banners and more.
The Department of Health and Human Services recorded a curious line item recently. The health care agency reported spending $20 million in taxpayer money on a contract with public relations firm Porter Novelli to design a national multimedia campaign to promote the Affordable Care Act, more commonly called Obamacare.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Rep. Tom Cole (OK-04) made the following remarks on the House floor in support of HR 205, the Hearth Act