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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

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.

June 17, 2015 News Stories

Politico - Brian Mahoney

An appropriations subcommittee shot down a bid by Rep. Rosa DeLauro to increase funding for programs in the Labor HHS bill to the levels requested by President Barack Obama in his 2016 budget.

The amendment would have funded by nearly $11 billion child care programs, Pell grants, job training and other defunded programs, DeLauro said. “And yet even with those increases, we are only halfway back to restoring the Labor HHS bill to its fiscal year 2010 funding level,” DeLauro said.

June 16, 2015 Press Release
Washington, D.C. – The House Appropriations Committee today released the draft fiscal year 2016 Labor, Health and Human Services (LHHS) funding bill, which will be considered in subcommittee tomorrow. 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.

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