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Congressman Tom Cole

Representing the 4th District of Oklahoma


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. 

Long-Term Reforms

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

September 29, 2015 News Stories

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.

August 26, 2015 News Stories

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.

July 22, 2015 News Stories

Washington Times - Andrew Nachemson

Alzheimer’s advocates are warning that Medicare and the national health system will be swamped by costs and patient loads in the coming years if no action is taken to prepare for a projected huge increase in the caseload as baby boomers enter their senior years.

July 20, 2015 Weekly Columns

Five years ago this month, President Barack Obama signed into law a bill that vastly restructured the American financial system. Brought about in response to the financial crisis and resulting recession in the last decade, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act was presented as the means to protect consumers, encourage recovery and ensure financial stability in the future. Instead, the reality of Dodd-Frank has meant more rules and government regulators, fewer jobs created, slowed recovery and less American opportunity.

July 13, 2015 Weekly Columns

Before Republicans took control of the U.S. House of Representatives more than four and a half years ago, lawmakers already knew that Americans desired change. But unlike the “change” that President Obama promised throughout his campaign and then strong-armed through a closed-door, Democrat-led Congress, Americans wanted to see a government that reined in regulatory excess, controlled government spending and demanded greater transparency and accountability. The Republican members of the House understood that then, and we still understand and fight for that now. 

July 2, 2015 News Stories

Roll Call - Marc N. Casper, Chris Hansen and Mark S. Wrighton

If you had a treasure map, why wouldn’t you follow it?

In essence, this is the opportunity we have before us with the map of the human genome. The Human Genome Project cracked our life code and provides a massive treasure trove of information that we have only just begun to explore.

June 28, 2015 News Stories

The Hill - Tim Devaney

Congressional Republicans are using the power of the purse to do battle against a series of controversial labor regulations from the Obama administration.

They say the National Labor Relations Board (NRLB) gave a gift to labor unions by issuing what they call an “ambush election” rule that speeds up the process for organizing in the workplace.

June 24, 2015 News Stories

The Hill - By Rebecca Shabad

The House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday advanced a $153 billion bill funding the Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS), Education and Labor for the next fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1.

It marks the first time in six years the full committee advanced a funding measure for those departments, which would receive $3.7 billion less than current funding levels and $14.6 billion less than President Obama’s request for fiscal 2016.

June 24, 2015 Press Release
Washington, D.C. – The House Appropriations Committee today approved the draft fiscal year 2016 Labor, Health and Human Services (LHHS) funding bill on a vote of 30-21. 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.
June 21, 2015 News Stories

Norman Transcript - Staff

The House Labor Health and Human Services (HHS) Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Tom Cole recently proposed a $300 million increase for Alzheimer’s research, as requested by Alzheimer’s Association advocates. This is a significant milestone toward reaching the levels deemed necessary by scientists to realize the goal of the National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease — to prevent and effectively treat Alzheimer’s by 2025.