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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.