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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

May 19, 2016 Press Release
Washington, D.C. – Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04) released the following statement after he was named a Fiscal Hero by the Campaign to Fix the Debt, a nonpartisan movement to improve America’s fiscal future.
May 18, 2016 News Stories
Congressional Republicans are preparing legislative efforts to block the Obama administration’s overtime rule, including a possible rider on an upcoming appropriations bill.
April 13, 2016 Press Release
Washington, DC – Representative Tom Cole has been named as a recipient of the 2016 Thomas Jefferson Award. The award is presented by the International Foodservice Distributors Association to lawmakers who support the free enterprise system.
April 4, 2016 Weekly Columns

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.

March 21, 2016 Weekly Columns

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.

March 15, 2016 Press Release
Washington, D.C. – Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04), a member of the House Committee on the Budget, released the following statement after the committee released its budget blueprint for fiscal year 2017. The balanced budget proposal unveiled today repeals Obamacare, reduces the deficit by $7 trillion, cuts spending by $6.5 trillion, reforms entitlements and offers real solutions to grow the economy.
February 22, 2016 Weekly Columns

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.

February 15, 2016 Weekly Columns

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.

February 9, 2016 Press Release
Washington, DC – Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04), a member of the House Committee on the Budget, released the following statement after President Barack Obama unveiled his $4 trillion budget proposal for fiscal year 2017.
February 9, 2016 News Stories
Rep. Tom Cole, an influential voice in spending on health and medical research, said President Barack Obama should come up with a way to pay for his new budget proposals, including one to expand treatment for people addicted to opioids.

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