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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

July 21, 2008 Weekly Columns
While Americans continue to pay ever increasing prices for gasoline, House and Senate leaders continue to block real solutions and instead appear to have adopted the policy of "pay more - drive less."
June 17, 2008 Weekly Columns
Last week the Republican members of the U.S. House unveiled an economic agenda designed to lower gas prices, eliminate wasteful government spending and prevent tax increases.
June 6, 2008 Weekly Columns
When I think about the contrast between the condition of our state and the condition of our country, I am reminded of the famous line from Charles Dickens novel, A Tale of Two Cities, "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times..."
May 23, 2008 Weekly Columns
As each day goes by, Americans feel the growing pressure caused by steadily increasing energy prices. Oil is nearing $130 a barrel and gasoline is hovering around $4 per gallon nationally.
May 1, 2008 Weekly Columns
Earlier this week I spoke with constituents from the Fourth District about a number of national issues that are heavy on the minds of Oklahomans. There is no doubt that two of the most pressing issues are the price of gasoline and its relation to the overall state of the economy.
April 21, 2008 Weekly Columns
Memorial Day and summer vacations are just around the corner for many families. But this year, Oklahomans may find themselves forced to cut down on their drive time to their favorite vacation destinations.
April 8, 2008 Weekly Columns
Last week I had the opportunity to join several of my colleagues in a meeting with Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke. During that meeting Chairman Bernanke discussed the importance of the government taking responsible and timely actions to address the problems facing our housing market.
March 12, 2008 Weekly Columns
Several weeks ago I was proud to be part of a bipartisan majority who – recognizing that our economy was beginning to stall – passed a stimulus package designed to get the country back on track by infusing the economy with money in the form of rebates for individual taxpayers and tax incentives for business investment.
January 22, 2008 Weekly Columns
As we enter the New Year, American families are finding themselves increasingly anxious about the economy. While we are still in a period of economic growth, that growth has become sluggish.
November 5, 2007 Weekly Columns
It seems like families are feeling the financial pinch more than ever these days. With the costs at the gas-pump climbing, college tuition rates getting higher and the price of consumer goods rising, the last thing Americans need is to see more of their paycheck taken by the government.

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