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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

October 3, 2016 Weekly Columns
Every American should have the opportunity to pursue and achieve the American Dream. One of the most basic foundations of opportunity is American enterprise and the ability for citizens to enter the workforce. Our economy has seen its ups and downs throughout our history. But since this Administration took office, the economy has seen more bad than good.
 
September 28, 2016 Press Release
Washington, D.C. – Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04), a member of the House Appropriations Committee, released the following statement after the U.S. House of Representatives passed a short-term continuing resolution that funds the government until December 9, 2016 and prevents a government shutdown.
September 5, 2016 Weekly Columns

It’s been a great month in the Fourth District, and I enjoyed updating everyone with the work we’re doing in DC. And now it’s time to continue our work and get back to some unfinished business. As the Members of Congress descend back to Washington, we’re aware that there are things we’ve got to do, and there’s no time to waste in completing our tasks. From battling Zika to funding the government, everyone on both sides of the aisle have got some things to prioritize.

 

July 25, 2016 Weekly Columns
One of the greatest aspirations we have in this nation is the concept of the “American Dream”. The idea that any person, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender or religion can achieve prosperity, happiness and success has always been a bedrock principle of our national experience. Achieving the American Dream generally relies upon individual initiative, so the best way the government can assist in the pursuit is to get out of the way.
 
July 15, 2016 Press Release

Washington, D.C. - House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers, along with Senate Appropriations Chairman Thad Cochran and other senior members of the House and Senate committees, today sent a joint letter to President Obama urging White House action on Zika funding.

July 15, 2016 Press Release
Washington, D.C. – Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04) released the following statement after the Senate failed to reconsider the Zika Conference Report, the legislation targeted at funding the Zika virus response efforts. The conference report had previously failed to pass in the Senate on its first attempt.
 
July 14, 2016 Press Release
Washington, D.C. - The House Appropriations Committee today approved the draft fiscal year 2017 Labor, Health and Human Services (LHHS) funding bill. The legislation includes funding for programs within the Department of Labor, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Education, and other related agencies.
 
July 11, 2016 News Stories
With Congress remains deadlocked over funding to fight the Zika virus, senior GOP leaders are working to head off yet another big public health funding fight.
July 8, 2016 News Stories
Following in their Senate colleagues’ footsteps, a House subcommittee signed off on a budget increase for the National Institutes of Health Thursday.
July 6, 2016 Press Release
Washington, D.C. - The House Appropriations Committee today released the draft fiscal year 2017 Labor, Health and Human Services (LHHS) funding bill, which will be considered in subcommittee tomorrow. The legislation includes funding for programs within the Department of Labor, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Education, and other related agencies.
 

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