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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

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.
February 2, 2016 Weekly Columns

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.

January 24, 2016 News Stories

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.

January 13, 2016 News Stories

The Atlantic - Nora Kelly

When Americans go to the ballot box, they expect the congressional candidates they support to take their interests to the Hill—to fight for the political issues and programs they prefer with an enthusiasm and dedication that’s deeply personal. That doesn’t always happen. But in the last year or so, members of Congress responded to what one member called a “constituent-driven movement” to rally around the National Institutes of Health and the biomedical research it funds.

January 6, 2016 News Stories

Bloomberg - Erik Wasson

A proposal to switch to a two-year fiscal cycle is pitting House appropriators and Budget Committee members against a majority of House members, some of whom who have argued the current annual process is ineffective and wasteful.

The fight over two-year budgeting comes as the House embarks on a rewrite this year of the 1974 Budget Act, which governs the annual spending process.

January 4, 2016 News Stories

The Oklahoman - Stephen Prescott, M.D. 

For the sake of Oklahoma's energy sector, let's hope the New Year brings a bump in oil and gas prices. But even if that doesn't happen, there are still plenty of economic silver linings to be found in the state.

In particular, the ongoing development of the bioscience sector has helped diversify our state's — and particular Oklahoma City's — economy. For 2016, here are five bioscience success stories that should just keep getting better.

Making cancer history

December 22, 2015 Weekly Columns

Since this spring, lawmakers have been hard at work sharing ideas and crafting legislation to responsibly fund the government. In the House of Representatives, the process of fulfilling this critical function of government started with hearings and discussions in the 12 subcommittees of the Appropriations Committee. And this year—for the first time since 2009—all 12 funding bills were written, considered and passed out of full committee and six passed the entire House.

December 18, 2015 Press Release
Washington, DC – Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04), chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies (LHHS), released the following statement after the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Consolidated Appropriations Act for fiscal year 2016.
December 17, 2015 Press Release
Washington, DC – Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04) released the following statement after the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015. The legislation makes permanent for individuals and job creators more than 20 temporary tax provisions. In addition, the bill encourages comprehensive tax reform, boosts economic growth, reduces potential fraud and abuse within tax credit programs and includes measures to keep the IRS accountable.
December 11, 2015 News Stories
A year ago, when Tom Cole was announced as the new chairman of the powerful House panel that funds medical research programs, he was no expert on medical science.

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