I have consistently supported legislation and policies to get the nation’s long-term fiscal house in order by balancing the budget and reforming entitlements, so we can eventually pay down our debt.
Budget and Spending
Since 2008, our national debt has increased by more than $9 trillion. Under Democratic control, the United States ran $1 trillion dollar deficits for four consecutive years. After Republicans won back control of the U.S. House of Representatives, the nation’s deficits have shrunk dramatically, to $534 billion in fiscal year 2016. While the deficit is still far too high, the progress made is the direct result of conservative efforts to reign in out-of-control spending, even in divided government.
As a member of the House Budget Committee, I have consistently supported legislation to get our long-term fiscal house in order by balancing the budget and eventually pay down our debt. I support the aims of the Budget Control Act, which I hoped would lead to a solution to our long-term entitlement problems. Of the more than $3.7 trillion in spending done 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 country’s major entitlement programs (Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security) are the most significant drivers of our debt. In fiscal year 2012, all entitlements comprised more than 60 percent of federal spending. According to the Boards of Trustees for Social Security and Medicare, both are due to become insolvent within the next 25 years if no changes are made. Every year that we delay addressing the issue, the solutions become more expensive and more painful, and continue to put our children and grandchildren even deeper in debt.
That’s why I have supported legislation that would put us back on a path toward fiscal balance by making changes to Medicare for those 54 and younger, while protecting those who have planned their retirements around the system in place. Under this kind of plan, those 54 and younger will have the option of keeping traditional Medicare or moving into a program modeled after Medicare Part D (one of the only government programs to ever come in under budget by 40 percent). If Congress acts now, making smaller changes to critical safety-net programs will prevent worse cuts to current beneficiaries.
More on Economy
It’s almost the time of year again that the majority of Americans consistently dislike most: tax day. When it comes time for filing income taxes, similar woes and frustrations related to navigating the nation’s needlessly complicated tax system are shared by most Americans. Because of the headaches associated with finding the necessary filing documents, navigating the tricky instructions and still wondering if you got it right, it’s no wonder that many request an extension or opt for professional tax preparation services.
Considering the presidential election cycle, terrorist threats at home and abroad and President Obama’s attempt to nominate a new justice of the Supreme Court, the coming months are certain to bring their fair share of drama. However, in the midst of these contentious circumstances, it’s important to note what isn’t adding to the turmoil for a change. Because of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, there has been no threat or even talk of a government shutdown this year.
Like most rhetoric coming from President Barack Obama, his latest budget was filled with initiatives that sound good until you get into the details, especially the details regarding how to pay for these initiatives. This couldn’t have been more clear than in the method he proposed to deal with health threats to society posed by diseases like cancer and conditions like opioid abuse. While the president saw the value of enlisting biomedical and scientific researchers to deal with these problems, his proposed plan to pay for these policies is extremely irresponsible.
In what has become an annual event, last week President Obama released a budget proposal that has no basis in reality. This year, he again ignored our nation’s crushing burden of debt and the outdated entitlement programs that are driving it and instead offered a proposal that raises taxes on job creators and proposes billions of dollars of additional spending for new government programs.
After seven long years, the damaging consequences of President Obama’s liberal agenda and policies become even more glaring by the day. Instead of confronting the serious challenges that desperately needed his attention, leadership and willingness to work with the legislative branch after he took the oath of office, the president has chosen throughout the entirety of his administration to ignore some of the most pressing issues facing the American people.
Lawton Constitution - Kim McConnell
Fourth District U.S. Rep. Tom Cole disagrees with constituents who say the most recent legislative session didn’t yield any results.
Cole was in Lawton late last week to meet with constituents, and the Republican congressman said while he agrees that more should have been accomplished, there were successes.