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Congressman Tom Cole

Representing the 4th District of Oklahoma

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

March 20, 2017 Weekly Columns
Each year, Congress has the responsibility to pass a budget, and then appropriate funds in accordance with that budget to fund the federal government agencies. The process typically starts in February when the President submits his proposed budget. But Congress has no obligation to adhere to the President’s budget or even to put it to a vote. President Obama’s budgets were routinely rejected - and not on a partisan basis. More than once his proposed budgets failed to receive a single vote from either party in both the House and the Senate.
 
January 28, 2017 News Stories
In just a few weeks, President Trump is expected to send Congress a federal budget that many expect will propose significant cuts to non-military spending. It will likely be the kind of proposal the GOP majorities in both the House and Senate have long embraced in theory but have had a harder time accepting in practice because it would require ending programs some of them support.
January 23, 2017 Weekly Columns
As President Trump begins his first 100 days into his presidency, Congress is busy working hand-in-hand with the new administration. Traditionally, the President presents the outlined budget for the next fiscal year in February. This begins the appropriations process to determine how each of our agencies and the entirety of our government are funded. A fiscal year expires on October 1st, so it is imperative that these appropriations are passed before that deadline.
 
January 17, 2017 Weekly Columns
Ever since the historic election on November 8, 2016, the United States has gotten a glimpse of what to expect from a Donald Trump Administration. President-elect Trump ran on an unabashedly populist platform that consistently put America first. Even before being sworn in President Trump was instrumental in convincing several American companies not to relocate and move American jobs overseas. And the stock market has consistently hovered around historic levels since Mr. Trump was elected.
 
January 10, 2017 Press Release
Washington, D.C. – Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04) released the following statement after he was named Chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies.
December 20, 2016 Weekly Columns

When the 114th Congress began its session in January of 2015, many Americans had concerns about the direction of our nation, and the job approval of their Congressional leaders was appropriately low. After so many years of onerous executive overreach, House Republicans faced many challenges in the fight to block President Obama’s liberal agenda. There were many times that House Republicans have come close to making common sense conservative progress, only to be shot down by the president’s veto pen.

December 13, 2016 Weekly Columns
In Article I, section 7, clause 1 of the United States Constitution, our Founding Fathers laid out the framework for the Congressional “Power of the Purse.” Congress has the fundamental responsibility for raising revenue and appropriating spending. It has done so for more than two centuries, but the job has become more complicated than need be in recent decades. Over the past several years, passing a budget and funding the government has grown more difficult, and has even resulted in government shutdowns.
December 8, 2016 Press Release
Washington, D.C. – Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04) released the following statement after the passage of the short-term Further Continuing and Security Assistance Appropriations Act, 2017 (Continuing Resolution), H.R. 2028, which passed by a vote of 326-96.
November 28, 2016 Weekly Columns
As the 114th session of Congress begins to come to a close, many people – myself included - lament the time between now and the end of the year, also known as a “lame duck” session. Some believe that nothing should done until the new Congress and new President are sworn into office.
October 31, 2016 Weekly Columns
In a little more than six weeks, a new labor rule governing overtime pay for salaried workers is set to take effect.  Like many of his economic policies, this is another example of the President’s fundamental lack of understanding of the free market and the job killing aspects of overbearing federal regulations.  While he may think this new rule will result in a higher take home pay for middle class workers, it is more likely to force many workers to “punch a clock” and lose the flexibility that a salary provides.
 

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