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.
Keith Hall, director of the nonpartisan CBO, said the deficit will also fall for the sixth straight year as a share of the overall economy — the gross domestic product.
Budget reductions made in recent years to the military and most other federal departments have driven down discretionary spending to the lowest level in decades as a share of GDP.
But spending on Social Security and health care entitlements — Medicare, Medicaid and Obamacare subsidies — continues to rise and will drive the total debt to unprecedented levels as a share of GDP, Hall said.
The budget pressures will be exacerbated when interest rates return to historical norms and the government has to pay more to borrow money, he said.
"Such high and rising debt would have serious and negative consequences for the nation," Hall told reporters.
Sen. James Lankford, R-Oklahoma City, said many fights with the White House over the last few years have resulted in dramatically lower deficits, but there is still “a long way to go."
"This year's deficit is still one of the largest deficits under any other president, long-term entitlement obligations remain sky high and the country's gross domestic product still fails to meet even modest growth expectations," Lankford said.
"We cannot cut enough to balance our budget. We must put policies into place that allow our economy to grow, while restraining spending. We need presidential leadership and a Congress that will confront the reality of long term debt consequences.”
Rep. Tom Cole, R-Moore, a member of the House Budget Committee, said the lower deficit "does show Congress has been serious about trying to cut spending."
Republicans have passed budgets to take entitlement spending, he said, but can't get President Barack Obama to engage in serious talks.
If the next president isn't willing to tackle mandatory spending, he or she will leave entitlement programs facing bankruptcy, he said.
Cole, who has been urging entitlement reforms for years, has authored bipartisan legislation to establish a special commission on changes to Social Security. That is the approach used in the early 1980s to rescue the system, he said, and the changes could again be gradual.
The deficit in 2007 was $161 billion, but it shot up to $458 billion in 2008. In the first four years of the Obama administration, deficits topped $1 trillion.
The CBO is projecting lower deficits for the next two years, and then rising shortfalls that will again top $1 trillion in a single year in 2025.
The nation's total debt has nearly doubled as a share of the economy since 2007 and now stands at 74 percent of GDP, Hall said.
The CBO is predicting the total debt will rise to 77 percent of GDP by 2025, almost twice the average of the past 50 years.
The CBO is projecting the economy will grow by 2 percent this year and by about 3 percent in the next two years.
Online: The OklahomanRead More
Over the last few weeks in town hall meetings and other visits across the Fourth District, I’ve heard my constituents voice their concerns about a variety of issues. But by far, the common issue that troubles the vast majority is the proposed nuclear deal negotiated with Iran by the Obama Administration. Like many of my constituents, I am disturbed by what I’ve heard, seen and learned about the agreement. With a vote expected in Congress next month, I remain strongly opposed to approving the deal.
When negotiations began two years ago, the president assured the American people that the goal was to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran and to block its pathway to acquiring and building a nuclear weapon. Unfortunately, the deal being sold by the president does not fulfill that promise. Instead, it simply delays Iran’s development of a nuclear bomb and dangerously empowers the country to continue funding our terrorist enemies through sanctions relief. Further, it jeopardizes the safety and security of our friends and allies, especially those in close proximity to Iran - including Israel.
But if those were not reasons enough to walk away from the deal, the latest development related to international inspections is reason to run far away from it. In the past, President Obama has explained that the deal would rely upon these international inspections to prevent Iran from cheating. However, we have learned that beyond the agreement sent to Congress for review, there was a separate deal negotiated between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA), an agency within the United Nations responsible for inspecting Iran’s nuclear facilities as part of the larger agreement.
According to the Associated Press, which reviewed and transcribed the complete document, that secret deal prevents international inspectors from being thorough and even bars their access to site visits. Rather than perform the inspections on site, the IAEA would depend on Iran to report the information it deems relevant to the investigation. Under the terms of the side deal, inspectors specifically would not be allowed to investigate the Parchin nuclear site, where advances in building a nuclear weapon have long been suspected in Iran.
It is absolutely outrageous to believe that Iran will provide the facts related to its past nuclear work if no one outside of its country is allowed to verify the evidence. The United States and our allies should be able to maintain a complete overview of the regime’s nuclear activities through unlimited and unannounced inspections of Iran’s facilities to catch anything done in secret.
Designated by the State Department as a sponsor of terror since 1984, Iran has time and again proven dishonest and untrustworthy. As I’ve said before, the only way to prevent Iran from building a nuclear weapon is through significant degradation of its nuclear capability. That must include fewer centrifuges, greater transparency and Iran’s surrender of weapons-grade uranium accumulated in recent years. With the existence of this secret deal, however, none of that is certain to be achieved.
Like many of my colleagues, on both sides of the aisle, I am very uncomfortable with the concessions made to Iran in the deal sent to Congress and especially in the newly revealed secret agreement. It is no wonder Iran is so publicly enthusiastic and willing to support it. Based on all that we know, the United States and our allies only stand to lose if Congress affirms the agreement.Read More
Norman, OK – Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04) released the following statement after the tragic death of Oklahoma Labor Commissioner Mark Costello.
“I am stunned and saddened by the tragic loss of Mark Costello,” said Cole. “Mark’s death leaves a hole in the heart of our community. He was a proud Oklahoman, dedicated public servant, devoted husband and father and a dear friend to countless others. During this difficult time for his family, I pray that the Lord’s comfort will be near to their hearts and that the support and prayers of their friends will be overwhelmingly felt.”
Contact: Sarah Corley (202) 225-6165Read More
Ada News - Eric Swanson
Lawmakers have floated several proposals for fixing Social Security, such as raising the eligibility age and increasing the income levels subject to Social Security taxes, U.S. Rep. Tom Cole said Thursday.
Cole also said he was optimistic that Congress would find a solution to Social Security’s financial woes.
“I think in the end, the public will force people to the table,” he said.
The Oklahoma Republican, who returned to his district during Congress’ summer recess, spoke about the challenges facing Social Security during an interview Thursday at The Ada News. Later in the day, he hosted a town hall meeting at East Central University.
Nearly 60 million people receive benefits from Social Security, a massive benefits program for retired and disabled workers, spouses and children, according to the Associated Press. That number is expected to rise to 90 million over the next two decades.
But the program faces long-term financial problems, largely due to demographic shifts, according to the AP. The Social Security Disability Trust Fund is expected to run out of money next year, which could trigger an automatic 19 percent cut in benefits unless Congress acts.
The retirement fund has enough money to pay full benefits until 2035, when the fund is likely to be exhausted. If that happens, recipients would see their payments either delayed or reduced.
Congress could prevent cuts to disability benefits by redirecting tax revenue from the retirement program, as it has done in the past, according to the AP. If that happens, the retirement program would lose one year of solvency, so the retirement and disability programs would have enough money to pay full benefits until 2034.
At that point, Social Security would have enough tax revenue to pay 79 percent of benefits.
Earlier this year, Cole and his fellow lawmakers John Delaney introduced a bill calling for Congress to form a bipartisan commission to tackle Social Security. If the bill becomes law, the commission would study the program’s financial challenges and recommend possible solutions.
Inspired by the 1983 Social Security Commission, the new group would have a year to present its recommendations to Congress. Any proposal would require a vote in both chambers.
Cole said the new commission would likely propose the same solution as previous panels: Gradually raise the retirement age and increase the amount of income subject to Social Security taxes.
“I can tell you what it’ll do, pretty much,” he said. “I don’t know the exact elements, but every commission we’ve had that has looked at this has slowly raised the age.”
He said raising the retirement age would slow the demand for benefits.
Cole also touched on a variety of other issues, including the nuclear deal with Iran and the GOP’s bid to recapture the presidency in 2016.
* The Iran deal: Republicans strongly oppose the recent deal with Iran, which would limit the country’s future nuclear programs in exchange for relief from international sanctions. Their criticism intensified when the AP reported on a secret side deal, which allows Tehran to use its own inspectors to investigate a site that may have been used to develop nuclear weapons.
Critics of the overall deal say it relies heavily on trusting the Iranians, according to the AP. But the Obama administration insist that the agreement depends on reliable inspections
The administration has urged lawmakers to support the deal, ahead of next month’s vote on whether to approve or disapprove the agreement.
Cole said Republicans are united against the deal, but its ultimate fate will hinge on whether future revelations are in the wings.
“I’ve read the original deal and read the secret annexes, and like most members, we’ve had briefs with Secretary Kerry and we’ve listened to different opinions,” he said. “But we’re still finding things out.
“Within the last 48 hours, we’ve found out that it looks like — we’ve been told — that there may be a deal where the Iranians inspect their own military bases. … That to me, if it’s true, could really change a lot of Democratic calculations.”
• The GOP presidential race: Cole said he was impressed by the depth of the GOP field in 2016, which includes Sens. Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and Marco Rubio; Govs. Scott Walker and Chris Christie; former Gov. Jeb Bush; businesswoman Carly Fiorina; and billionaire businessman Donald Trump.
“There’s six or seven very plausible candidates up there that could win,” he said. “Sooner or later, the voting starts. And then we see.”
Online: Ada NewsRead More
Ada, OK – The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), the federal agency that administers AmeriCorps, the Chickasaw Nation, and Congressman Tom Cole today announced a first-ever federal grant to support a new Senior Corps Foster Grandparent Program. The goal of this program is to improve school readiness, ensuring children are on the pathway to academic success.
The federal agency announced more than $1 million in new funding to support up to 75 Senior Corps Foster Grandparents serving annually over the next three years. The federal investment is projected to generate an additional $120,000 in local support to increase community impact and return on federal investment.
“We are thrilled to announce the first-ever Foster Grandparent Program of its kind for the Chickasaw Nation,” said Wendy Spencer, CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service. “For generations, seniors have been making a powerful impact in their communities, and their service is more important now than ever. We congratulate the Chickasaw Nation for their strong application and thank Governor Anoatubby for his dedication to ensuring our young people are prepared for future success in the classroom and throughout their lives.”
"Without a doubt, one of the greatest investments we can make is in our young people, and ensuring they receive a quality education is a foundational part of that investment,” said Congressman Tom Cole. “Through the Foster Grandparent Program, I am very pleased that my own tribe is leading an effort to further involve older generations in preparing children to succeed and achieve in school. By providing a way for senior volunteers to come alongside children from disadvantaged circumstances, I am confident that the program will have lasting impact upon the students, their families and the entire community it serves."
Foster Grandparents will serve with the Chickasaw Nation Child Development Center and Head Start in Ada, Oklahoma. Some of their activities will include providing one-on-one attention to children, Chickasaw language and culture discussion, literacy development, and math and science tutoring. Foster Grandparents will also act as mentors offering emotional support and guidance to children, parents and staff.
“While Foster Grandparents have had a positive impact in our classrooms for decades, this new initiative will extend that impact into our child development centers,” said Gov. Anoatubby. “We believe this new program offers a unique opportunity for our seniors to form a unique and mutually beneficial bond with the children they serve. Foster grandparents have the opportunity to become role models, mentors and often lifelong friends with these children.”
The Foster Grandparent Program is an intergenerational program that provides a way for volunteers age 55 and over to stay active and provide one-on-one mentoring, nurturing, and support to children with special or exceptional needs, or who are at an academic, social or financial disadvantage.
The Corporation for National and Community Service is a federal agency that engages more than five million Americans in service through its AmeriCorps, Senior Corps, Social Innovation Fund, and Volunteer Generation Fund programs, and leads the President's national call to service initiative, United We Serve. For more information, visit NationalService.gov.
Contact: Tony Choate (580) 559-0921 (Chickasaw Nation) Press Office (202) 606-6775 (CNCS)Sarah Corley (202) 225-6165 (Cole)Read More
Our Member of the Week is Representative Tom Cole of Oklahoma’s 4th Congressional District. In Congress, he serves on the House Appropriations Committee, the House Budget Committee, and the House Rules Committee. In addition to these committees, he also serves as a Deputy Whip for the Republican Conference.
A fifth generation Oklahoman, Tom has a significant background of service to his state. He resides in Moore, OK with his wife, Ellen.
We asked Rep. Cole 10 questions…
1.) What inspired you to run for Congress?
It was really the fact that my Congressman and my client J.C. Watts decided not to seek re-election. There’s nobody I admire more than J.C. and frankly, in his view, I was the only Republican at the time who could hold the seat. His help in both the primary and the general elections were instrumental in my success.
I’d been J.C. Watts’ top consultant in all five of his previous races for Corporation Commissioner and for Congress. When he decided not to run again, I knew I was literally the “slow second stringer off the bench.” But thanks to his help and endorsement, I was able to win the primary and be successful in a very competitive race in the general election.
Later, one of the greatest honors of my life was to introduce J.C. Watts the night he was inducted in the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame. Many people, including myself, were surprised that J.C. chose me to make this introduction. But as I told the legendary Sooner Coach Barry Switzer that evening, “After all, Coach, when J.C. played for me, we were undefeated.”
2.) What was your dream job growing up?
NFL defensive end.
3.) What has surprised you most about life on Capitol Hill?
Frankly, not much has surprised me. Before being elected to represent the Fourth District in the House, I had lived on Capitol Hill while serving as Executive Director of the NRCC and Chief of Staff at the RNC, and I also served as District Director for former Congressman Mickey Edwards.
But in serving as Congressman for the Fourth District, I suppose I’ve been surprised simply by the sheer amount of hours that members have to put in to really be effective.
4.) Favorite sports team?
OU Sooners. I bleed crimson and cream!
5.) If we were to empty your pockets, what would we find?
Matches, a cutter and a good cigar.
6.) Who is your biggest influence in your life?
My mother, without a doubt. She not only served as a state representative, but she was the first Native American woman to serve as a state senator. And she was really one of the founding mothers of the modern Republican Party in Oklahoma.
7.) When did you know you were a Republican?
As soon as my mother told me.
8.) What is the most important–but under-reported—policy issue you work on?
Native American issues without a doubt. Far too often, the first Americans have been the last Americans in terms of lifespan, educational opportunities, wealth and the ability to move ahead. The treatment of Native Americans is one of the saddest chapters in American history, but it’s also an area which our party has begun to address. And I’m proud to have played some small part in that. My interest in these issues stems in part from being a proud Chickasaw and one of only 14 tribal members who have ever served in the U.S. House of Representatives.
9.) Describe your ideal “day-off”.
It would probably start with a cigar in the morning, an OU football game in the afternoon and a celebration of the inevitable victory at a nearby bar after the game.
10.) Coffee or tea?
For decades, Social Security has brought peace of mind to generations of American retirees and disabled citizens. From that first paycheck and onward into every stage of working life, Social Security is an investment program that has served tens of millions of American workers. But as we are all too aware, the program’s ability to keep the same promise to future generations of American workers is in grave danger.
During the same week that Social Security marked 80 years in existence, it was revealed that most Americans doubt their lifelong investment in the entitlement program will be returned or realized. In a poll released by AARP, it was reported that 57 percent were not confident in the future of the program. Of those most skeptical, young people appear to be most disenchanted about relying on Social Security for retirement income later on in life.
Those reported feelings and concerns about the solvency of the program are not ill-founded. Based on current forecasts, the program’s combined trust funds are on track to be exhausted in 2033. Even worse, for the Disability Insurance Trust Fund within Social Security that pays disability benefits, a crisis looms large in the coming year when it is expected to go bankrupt.
While I wish lawmakers and the president had already changed the trajectory of the imminent Social Security crisis, it is important to note that conversations are taking place on both sides of the aisle. Not only did the Budget Conference Report include language urging Congress and the president to work together to find solutions, but the House Budget Committee, of which I am a member, has an initiative meant to encourage discussion on worthwhile reforms to programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. The House Ways and Means Committee, which has jurisdiction over taxation, has a subcommittee dedicated to Social Security.
But one effort of which I am particularly proud and hopeful is a bipartisan piece of legislation that I helped introduce to save Social Security in the previous and current Congress. In March of this year, I joined with my Democrat House colleague John Delaney to reintroduce a bill that calls for a bicameral and bipartisan commission to discuss and propose solutions for Social Security. Inspired by the 1983 Social Security Commission, the 13-person panel created by the legislation would include members from both parties and both chambers. The panel would have a year to report back to Congress with recommendations, and any proposal would require a vote in both chambers. If passed by Congress and signed into law, measures could be taken to save Social Security.
Throughout the entirety of working life, every American contributes to Social Security and trusts in the promise of future benefits from the program later on in life. Unfortunately, as we have been reminded all too often, Social Security is in grave danger. Without immediate changes that modernize the current system, Social Security will not be able to pay the benefits that American workers have earned and have come to rely upon and expect. Rather than risk breaking the promise made to generations who have paid or will pay into the system, we must do something about it.Read More
I will be hosting a telephone town hall meeting at 1pm on Tuesday, August 11. If you would like to participate in the call, please contact my office at (202) 225-6165 ahead of the call.Read More
I will be hosting a telephone town hall meeting at 3pm on Thursday, August 13. If you would like to participate in the call, please contact my office at (202) 225-6165 ahead of the call.Read More
Without question, the recent release of several undercover videos showing the cold-hearted, profit-driven and suspicious back-room realities at Planned Parenthood have shocked and horrified the vast majority of Americans. For those who have watched the videos or opted only to read about the horrors contained therein, the stomach-churning conversations and horrific images reveal a dark industry that not only claims the precious lives of unborn children but shamelessly sells their aborted remains. Like most Americans, I am appalled and disgusted by the evidence recently brought against Planned Parenthood by the Center for Medical Progress.
The nation’s largest abortion provider, Planned Parenthood was responsible for nearly a million abortion procedures between 2011 and 2013, according to the pro-life advocacy organization Susan B. Anthony List. As part of Planned Parenthood’s pregnancy services offered in 2013, abortions accounted for a disturbing 94 percent with very few adoption or prenatal care referrals. Those statistics alone are evidence of an organization whose agenda promotes and pushes abortion before—and above—any other more humane alternative. That case has only become stronger with the existence of videos showing Planned Parenthood staff members discussing the sale and haggling over the price of aborted baby body parts and organs.
In the wake of the horrendous videos, many American taxpayers have been appalled to learn that Planned Parenthood receives some public funding for its operations, with the majority of federal funds directed through Medicaid reimbursements. While the organization touts its focus on women’s reproductive health services aside from abortion procedures, those same services are readily available elsewhere at community health centers. In fact, compared to the approximately 700 locations for Planned Parenthood, there are more than 9,000 community health centers that offer reproductive health care but don’t perform abortions. I believe that the damning videos that show Planned Parenthood’s handling of abortions are more than enough evidence to discontinue its designation as a Medicaid provider and cause to redirect one hundred percent of any federal funds they currently receive to community health centers.
In response to the videos and even before they were released, lawmakers in both chambers of Congress have sought to address the federal funding channeled to Planned Parenthood. Lawmakers at the state and federal level have called for investigations into the organization’s practices. Along with many of my colleagues in the House, I was proud to cosponsor the Defund Planned Parenthood Act of 2015 that would discontinue funds for one year for any service offered by Planned Parenthood or its affiliates if it performs abortions.
Before we learned of the atrocious videos, however, the subcommittee that I chair addressed some of Planned Parenthood’s federal funding when we drafted our appropriations bill for Labor, Health and Human Services (HHS), Education and Related Agencies. When the bill was passed out of the full committee at the end of June, it reflected cuts to the direct sources of federal funding in the subcommittee’s jurisdiction. That included eliminating funding for HHS Title X Family Planning grants, maintaining full support for community health centers and boosting funding for lifesaving biomedical research.
On the emotionally charged issue of abortion, thoughtful men and women can—and do—have differing points of view. And while I have always come down firmly on the side of defending the unborn, I respect the fact that others have not. But on the issue of selling the remains of aborted babies, I believe the vast majority of Americans are in agreement that it is a reprehensible practice that must be stopped.Read More
2458 Rayburn HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Currently serving in his seventh term, Tom Cole was elected to Congress in 2002. Identified by Time Magazine as “one of the sharpest minds in the House,” Cole is an advocate for a strong national defense, a tireless advocate for taxpayers and small businesses, and a leader on issues dealing with Native Americans and tribal governments. Cole was named as one of the “Five Freshmen to Watch” by Roll Call at the outset of his congressional career.
Since 2009, Cole has served on the powerfulHouse Appropriations Committee, where he is Chairman of the Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS-Education); he is also assigned to the Subcommittees on Defense and Interior.
For the third consecutive Congress, Cole was reappointed to the House Budget Committee in 2015 as one of the three members of the majority party who also sits on the Appropriations Committee. He is currently considered the Senior Appropriator on the panel.
In 2013, Cole was appointed to serve on the House Rules Committee. In addition, Congressman Cole serves as a Deputy Whip for the Republican Conference and is a member of the Republican Steering Committee.
In October 2013, he was appointed by Speaker Boehner and Budget Chairman Paul Ryan to serve as one of four House Republicans on a House-Senate joint budget conference committee that negotiated a bipartisan budget deal for fiscal years 2014 and 2015.
Tom Cole has a significant background of service to his home state of Oklahoma. He has served as the State Chairman of the Oklahoma Republican Party, District Director to former Congressman Mickey Edwards, a member of the Oklahoma State Senate and as Oklahoma’s Secretary of State. In this capacity he served as former Governor Frank Keating’s chief legislative strategist and liaison to the state’s federal delegation. Keating tapped Cole to lead Oklahoma’s successful effort to secure federal funds to assist in the rebuilding of Oklahoma City in the wake of the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building on April 19,1995.
Cole is widely regarded as one of the GOP’s top political strategists. He served as Executive Director of the National Republican Congressional Committee in the 1992 cycle. He also served as the Chief of Staff of the Republican National Committee during the historic 2000 cycle in which Republicans won the presidency, the Senate and the House for the first time in 48 years. In the 2008 cycle, Cole served as Chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee.
Cole is a founding partner and past president of CHS & Associates, a nationally recognized political consulting and survey research firm based in Oklahoma City. The firm has been named one of the top 20 in its field and has literally dozens of past and current clients scattered across the country.
A former college instructor in history and politics, Cole holds a B.A. from Grinnell College, an M.A. from Yale University and a Ph.D. from the University of Oklahoma. Cole has been a Thomas Watson Fellow and a Fulbright Fellow at the University of London. He serves on the Smithsonian Institution Board of Regents, as well as the national board of the Fulbright Association. He is also a member of the Congressional Advisory Board to the Aspen Institute.
Tom Cole is a fifth generation Oklahoman and an enrolled member of the Chickasaw Nation. He is currently one of the only Native Americans serving in Congress. He was awarded the Congressional Leadership award by the National Congress of American Indians in 2007 and 2011 and was inducted in the Chickasaw Hall of Fame in 2004. Cole’s late mother, Helen, is also a member of the Chickasaw Hall of Fame and served as a state representative, state senator and the Mayor of Moore in her native state of Oklahoma. Cole’s late father, John, served 20 years in the United States Air Force and worked an additional two decades as a civilian federal employee at Tinker Air Force Base.
Tom and his wife, Ellen, have one son, Mason, and reside in Moore, Oklahoma.
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Honored to be a part of this special event last week. https://t.co/pvJJSGo6nx
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For today’s #FourthDistrictFriday, I am pleased to recognize Estella Bowman of Duncan, who will be part of an upcoming Oklahoma Honor Flight
I'm at the Ardmore Convention Center this evening for a town hall meeting. There's still time to stop by for the conversation or to ask questions.
I will be in Ardmore this evening for a town hall meeting at the Ardmore Convention Center beginning at 5:30pm. If you're in the area, hope you
This spring, Oklahomans across the state were devastated by severe weather that included tornadoes and flooding. Yesterday I made it down to
#OK04 REMINDER: Today is the last day to register for disaster assistance with FEMA. Learn more below or at DisasterAssistance.gov.