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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

September 24, 2012 Weekly Columns

It is considered one of the great political compromises, and one of the most unequivocally successful policy changes in recent congressional history. Welfare reform, a joint effort by President Clinton and a Republican Congress led by Speaker Newt Gingrich, confirms both that bipartisan progress is possible in a sharply divided government and that good things happen when the status quo is toppled

September 20, 2012 Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C.  – Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04) released the following statement after the House passed H.J.Res. 118, a resolution to overturn the Obama administration's move to waive welfare work requirements.

September 19, 2012 Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C.  – Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04) released the following statement after the House passed H.R. 5912, bipartisan legislation he authored to terminate taxpayer financing of party conventions.  Since 1976, over $220 million in 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 bill passed by a wide, bipartisan margin of 310-95.

August 27, 2012 Weekly Columns

The media may no longer be paying attention to gas prices, but the American people are fully aware that fuel costs are on the rise again.  The $3.72 national average gas price recorded on August 20 was the highest ever observed on that date.  Prices have risen 9 percent over the past few months, making 2012 the most expensive year ever for drivers.  According to USA Today, industry experts predict average prices could rise as high as $3.90 and remain above $3.00 even into autumn.

August 17, 2012 Weekly Columns

You know election season must be in full swing when "Mediscare" accusations start flying.  Unfortunately, the heated rhetoric obscures the most relevant and startling point of all: Medicare will go bankrupt by 2024.  This is not speculation or a partisan claim; it is a fact documented in this year's annual report from the Medicare and Social Security Trustees.

Rather than confront this reality and communicate honestly with the American people about options to save the vital program, the Obama campaign has chosen the time-honored tradition of sowing fear and division. 

August 13, 2012 Weekly Columns

One day after voting to prevent a massive tax hike from hitting small businesses and families, House Republicans also took action to reform the entire tax code.  It's not just high tax rates that discourage businesses from growing.  The very structure of the tax system is so complex, inefficient, and unfair that the United States is becoming one of the worst places to do business in the developed world. 

August 3, 2012 Weekly Columns

I recently sat down in Norman with a group of small business owners to get their perspective on economic issues.  While politicians in Washington argue over how to create jobs, these local employers are the ones responsible for making payroll each month and working to make their businesses grow in a challenging economy. 

August 1, 2012 Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Congressman Tom Cole (OK-4) released the following statement after the House passed H.R. 8, the Job Protection and Recession Prevention Act.  The bill extends the current low tax rates for all American taxpayers and small business owners for one year, preventing a $384 billion tax increase beginning on January 1, 2013.

July 30, 2012 Weekly Columns

"It's now easier to start a business in Slovenia, Estonia and Hungary — three former Iron Curtain countries — than in America."  That's the conclusion reached by the editors of Investors Business Daily in response to a study measuring the regulatory hurdles confronting entrepreneurs around the globe.  According to statistics compiled by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), even liberal Canada requires fewer procedures to start a new business than American entrepreneurs face. 

July 25, 2012 Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Congressman Tom Cole (OK-4) released the following statement after House passage of H.R. 459, the Federal Reserve Transparency Act.  This legislation would allow the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to conduct a full audit of the Fed and report its findings within 12 months.  Under current policy, the GAO is unable to audit Fed activities related to monetary policy matters or transactions for or with foreign central banks, governments, and international organizations.

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