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.
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As long as President Obama is in office and Republicans control Congress, the nation will remain in an era of divided government. Given our system of checks and balances, true negotiation must take place and real compromise must be reached to govern effectively. And like I’ve said on numerous occasions, neither side can ever get all that it wants in a negotiation. In fact, in a true negotiation you’ll always get less than you want and give up more than you’d like.
The Department of Treasury and Office of Management and Budget recently reported that the annual federal deficit had declined to its lowest level in years. At first glance, this sounds like very good news, and predictably President Obama was quick to claim it as his victory. However, even though the report certainly signals that some responsible choices have been made to slow the rate of spending, the reality is that the government still consistently spends outside its means and in so doing adds to our country’s already heavy burden of debt.
The release of a series of videos that have exposed the despicable backroom practices at Planned Parenthood and which documented disturbing conversations with some of its employees have caused Americans to question the federal funding the organization receives. Without question, I share the same disgust of the utter disregard for unborn human life demonstrated by the organization’s sale of aborted body parts in the videos. Like many others across the nation, I certainly do not believe that taxpayers should foot the bill for any of Planned Parenthood’s expenses.
The Oklahoman - Chris Casteel
Congress averted a government shutdown Wednesday, approving a short-term spending bill just hours before the deadline with strong bipartisan support.
President Barack Obama signed the legislation, which will keep departments funded close to their current levels until Dec. 11, two weeks before Christmas.
The Hill - Sarah Ferris
A top House Republican is asserting that the short-term government spending bill includes no funding for Planned Parenthood, a last-ditch effort to quell the conservative rebellion threatening the bill's fate.
“Just to make the record crystal clear, there's just simply not a dime in here for Planned Parenthood,” Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) said during a markup of the spending bill by the House Rules Committee.
Oklahoma Economic Report - Congressman Tom Cole
Perhaps the most daunting issue that we face as Americans is the massive amount of public debt that exists and the rate at which it is growing. Certainly, the staggering number of nearly $18.4 trillion calls for real solutions to change the debt trajectory. In an effort to return our nation to fiscally-firm footing, it’s important to consider how we reached this point while also recognizing the areas where we’ve been successful.
PolitiFact - Lauren Carroll
Congress needs to pass a spending bill by Sept. 30, 2015, or there’ll be a government shutdown. Some members of Congress want to leverage this deadline to defund Planned Parenthood.
But the bill Congress will likely pass -- a short-term spending bill that funds the government through Dec. 11 -- doesn’t include funding for Planned Parenthood to begin with, said Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., on Fox News Sunday Sept. 27. So Congress shouldn’t shut down the government over funding the women’s health organization.
The Oklahoman - Chris Casteel
The annual budget deficit will be the lowest since 2007, but the federal government's spending and accumulated debt are still heading to dangerous levels, the Congressional Budget Office reported Tuesday.
With about five weeks remaining in the federal fiscal year, the CBO is estimating a deficit of $426 billion. That would be $59 billion below the 2014 shortfall.