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. – Rep. Tom Cole (OK-04) made the following remarks on the House floor in support of HR 205, the Hearth Act
Today's parents face a prospect rare in American history: the possibility that our children and grandchildren will inherit an America with less opportunity and prosperity than previous generations enjoyed. Integral to the American Dream is the assumption that each generation will enjoy a higher standard of living and economic opportunity than their parents did. However, the economic downturn and unsustainable government debt levels have combined to create troubling economic trends that point to an uncertain future for today's young people.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04) released the following statement after the House of Representatives approved H.Con.Res. 112, the "Path to Prosperity" Budget Resolution setting spending limits for 2013. The House Republican budget cuts $5 trillion, protects defense funding, reforms the tax system, and brings needed reforms to health and retirement security programs. Cole also voted in favor of the “Cut, Cap, and Balance” Budget. This budget plan was introduced by the Republican Study Committee, a caucus of House conservatives of which he is a member.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04) released the following statement after House Republicans released their Fiscal Year 2013 budget resolution – The Path to Prosperity. Cole serves on the House Budget Committee and the House Appropriations Committee.
"The House Republican budget provides serious, principled solutions to not only lower our crippling national debt but also to grow the economy and strengthen health and retirement security.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Rep. Tom Cole (OK-04) released the following statement after the House of Representatives approved legislation to extend the payroll tax cut for the remainder of 2012. The legislation also reforms and extends unemployment insurance and prevents cuts to reimbursement rates for physicians who treat Medicare patients:
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Rep. Tom Cole (OK-04) pressed Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke on the necessity of entitlement reform to balance the budget. During a hearing of the House Budget Committee on Thursday, Cole asked Bernanke if a combination of revenue increases and spending cuts would be sufficient to address long-term structural debt. In response to Bernanke's admission that Congress "could cut discretionary spending pretty close to zero and not solve the problem in the long term," Cole released the following statement:
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Rep. Tom Cole (OK-04) released the following statement after the House of Representatives voted to work with the Senate to extend the payroll tax holiday for one full year. On December 13, the House passed the Middle Class Tax Relief & Job Creation Act, which would extend the payroll tax holiday for one year, reform and extend unemployment benefits, protect access to doctors for Medicare beneficiaries, and accelerate a decision on the Keystone pipeline. The Senate payroll tax plan would only extend the tax cut for two months.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Rep. Tom Cole (OK-04) released the following statement after the Senate approved a temporary extension of the payroll tax holiday:
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Rep. Tom Cole (OK-04) released the following statement after the House of Representatives approved an appropriations bill to fund government operations for fiscal year 2012:
"For the second year in a row, Congress has actually decreased spending. This bill represents a turning point from the years when Washington spending increased automatically, year after year.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Rep. Tom Cole (OK-04) released the following statement after voting in favor of H.R. 3630 - the Middle Class Tax Relief & Job Creation Act. The bill, which was approved by the House of Representatives Tuesday, extends the payroll tax holiday for one year, reforms and extends unemployment benefits, protects access to doctors for Medicare beneficiaries, and accelerates a decision on the Keystone pipeline.