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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

October 5, 2015 Weekly Columns

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.

October 1, 2015 News Stories

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.

September 30, 2015 Press Release
Washington, DC – Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04), a member of the House Appropriations Committee, released the following statement after the U.S. House of Representatives passed a short-term continuing resolution that funds the government through December 11 and prevents a government shutdown.
September 30, 2015 News Stories

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.

September 30, 2015 Weekly Columns

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.

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. 

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