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) today released the following statement after the House Republican majority passed new operating rules for the 112th Congress:
"House Republicans pledged to cut spending and reform government, and we've wasted no time getting started. For too long, Washington has operated under a system that reflexively enables spending and the growth of government. The new rules we passed today change the legislative process and put the focus where it should be -- on budget discipline, spending cuts, and transparency."
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Rep. Tom Cole (OK-04) today released the following statement after voting against a temporary spending bill that maintains inflated government funding levels through March 2011:
"Instead of cutting spending during this time of high joblessness and record deficits, Democrats have pushed through yet another bloated funding bill. After failing to pass a budget or sign any of the 12 annual spending bills into law this year, the outgoing majority's record of fiscal irresponsibility remains unbroken.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Rep. Tom Cole (OK-04) today released the following statement after voting in favor of legislation to extend tax cuts for all Americans:
"This bill is certainly not ideal, but allowing massive tax hikes to go into effect for every American during a recession is unacceptable. I would have preferred a more fiscally responsible plan that makes the current tax rates permanent and avoids dipping into the Social Security trust fund, but this is the best agreement possible at this time.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Rep. Tom Cole (OK-04) today released the following statement after voting against Democrats' tax bill:
"This vote is nothing more than a political stunt. Negotiations are under way to extend tax breaks for all taxpayers and small businesses. Staging this vote before the negotiations are complete shows that the Democratic majority cares more about scoring political points than about getting the economy moving."
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Rep. Tom Cole (OK-04) made the following statement after House Democrats passed H.R. 1586, the latest "stimulus" bill:
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Rep. Tom Cole (OK-04) made the following statement after voting in favor of H.R. 4899, a supplemental appropriations bill to provide critical funding for war operations in Afghanistan and Iraq:
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Rep. Tom Cole (OK-04) today issued the following statement after House Democrats passed their latest spending bill:
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Rep. Tom Cole (OK-04) today issued the following statement after voting against H.R. 4173, "Restoring American Financial Stability Act of 2010":
"Americans are no safer from another economic collapse today than we were yesterday. This bill institutionalizes 'too big to fail' and does nothing to address the rampantly irresponsible lending practices at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that played a leading role in causing the financial crisis. Creating new government bureaucracy and jeopardizing more taxpayer dollars is not reform."
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Rep. Tom Cole (OK-04) today issued the following statement after the House Republican Economic Recovery Working Group launched YouCut, a first-of-its kind initiative designed to give taxpayers an opportunity to vote on spending cuts they would most like to see Congress enact. Cole's proposal to eliminate the Presidential Election Fund is one of the first spending cuts to be considered under the program.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Rep. Tom Cole (OK-04) issued the following statement after voting against legislation to increase the debt limit:
"Runaway government spending is bankrupting the country, and the Democrats' response is to raise the debt limit and keep on borrowing and spending. Today's vote increased the debt limit for the sixth time in three years. That kind of spending is simply unsustainable.