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) released the following statement after the House of Representatives voted on H.J. Res. 2, a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution:
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Rep. Tom Cole (OK-04) released the following statement after the Obama White House released its latest debt plan, which calls for $1.5 trillion in new taxes:
"This proposal is more about election year politics than deficit reduction. The fact that President Obama once again failed to propose serious reforms to entitlement programs -- which are the main drivers of the debt -- shows he is interested not in solving problems but in scoring political points.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Rep. Tom Cole (OK-04) released the following statement after the voting in favor of the Budget Control Act:
"While this agreement doesn't have everything we would have liked, there is no question that it adheres to the conservative principles we have maintained throughout this debate. We promised the American people that we would not allow a debt ceiling increase without corresponding spending cuts, that we would not allow tax hikes, and that we would advance a Balanced Budget Amendment. We have achieved all of these objectives.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Rep. Tom Cole (OK-04) released the following statement after the voting against H.R. 2693, Senator Harry Reid’s debt limit increase bill:
"The Reid plan contains so-called spending cuts that are nothing more than smoke and mirrors. More than $1 trillion of the savings in the bill come from war spending for Iraq and Afghanistan that has never been requested in the first place. The only real cuts in the legislation are aimed at defense and would put America at risk.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Rep. Tom Cole (OK-04) released the following statement after the voting in favor of the Budget Control Act of 2011:
"House Republicans have now voted twice to avoid default and bring a responsible end to the debt ceiling crisis. Senate Democrats have passed nothing. President Obama has offered obstacles and veto threats but has never publicly presented his own plan.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Rep. Tom Cole (OK-04) released the following statement after the voting in favor of the Cut, Cap and Balance Act.
"America is going bankrupt unless we act now to cut spending and balance the budget.
"Cut, Cap and Balance is a comprehensive plan to reverse the debt and bring permanent reform to Washington spending by making immediate cuts, mandating enforceable spending caps, and letting the states vote on a Balanced Budget Amendment for the federal government.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Rep. Tom Cole (OK-04) released the following statement after the voting against H.R. 1954 - a bill to implement the president's request to increase the statutory limit on the public debt.
"Today's vote sends a clear signal to the markets and to the American people that we are serious about cutting spending. No longer will it be a matter of routine for Congress to automatically vote to raise the debt limit.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Rep. Tom Cole (OK-04) released the following statement in after voting in favor of H.Con.Res 34, the House Republican 2012 budget resolution introduced by Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan.
Cole serves on the House Budget Committee and the Appropriations Committee.
"Today's vote marks a turning point for the economy. The Ryan Budget cuts $6.2 trillion and signals the end of business as usual in Washington. After years of reckless spending and trillion-dollar deficits, Congress has finally gotten on the right fiscal path.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Rep. Tom Cole (OK-04) released the following statement in response to President Obama's speech today on the deficit.
Cole serves on the Budget and Appropriations committees.
"Today's speech was the least presidential and most political President Obama has delivered yet. The president criticized and distorted the Republican budget plan without offering any substantive proposals of his own. Tax hikes do not qualify as a valid solution to our crushing entitlement debt.