The Edmond Sun


January 2, 2013

Breaking Washington's spending addiction

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The fiscal cliff fiasco has been perhaps a fitting end to a year and a legislative session full of frustrating, down-to-the-wire legislative battles. Passing major legislation is often such a contentious, eleventh-hour process, it seems as if all of Washington is hopelessly dysfunctional. While this is largely true, there are a few congressional success stories worth highlighting.

Although newspapers and talk shows rarely mention it, Republicans in the 112th Congress managed to cut domestic discretionary spending for three fiscal years in a row — the first time since World War II this has been accomplished. Thanks to the failure of the previous Democratic Congress to pass a 2010 budget, the House Republican majority that took power in January 2011 had an extra opportunity to curb reckless spending. We used that opportunity to achieve the largest single-year spending cut in history when the 2010 budget was finalized in April 2011.

Granted, record spending cuts are only possible due to record spending levels. But spending is finally on a downward trajectory because the 2010 appropriations bill was followed by legislation that decreased spending for fiscal years 2011 and 2012. Spending was not only lower compared to the previous year but was $191 billion below President Obama’s budget requests. With $95 billion in spending cuts enacted since 2010 and $917 billion in projected savings over 10 years, discretionary spending is on track to match the lowest level of spending as a percentage of GDP since 1962.

The Appropriations Committee on which I serve has brought renewed focus to identifying bloated government programs and eliminating wasteful spending. Since 2010, the committee has had more than 300 hearings and markups to examine budgets and root out inefficiencies.  This oversight and accountability has led to the elimination of more than 150 programs, saving taxpayers more than $2 billion. The committee itself has certainly not been immune from budget cuts. The committee has reduced its budget by 14 percent and its full-time staff by more than 20 percent. We’ve frozen pay for federal workers, including members of Congress.

Of course, much work remains. Reductions in discretionary spending are only one part of the puzzle. Almost two-thirds of federal spending is driven by Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. Spending on these entitlement programs falls in the mandatory spending category and is not subject to the yearly appropriations process. No matter how much progress we make in reducing discretionary spending, we will remain in imminent jeopardy of a catastrophic debt crisis until we implement significant structural reforms to entitlement programs. This unavoidable mathematic reality is precisely why Republicans insisted throughout the fiscal cliff debate that President Obama and his party accept entitlement reforms.

The historic 2010 mid-term elections were driven by an American electorate fed up with decades of reckless spending, and the resulting House Republican majority made good on our pledge to break the cycle of yearly spending increases despite constant resistance from a president and Senate that remain mired in the liberal tax-and-spend habits of the past. The next and crucial step is tackling tax reform and entitlement reform. Just as we have throughout the 112th Congress and during the fiscal cliff debate, congressional conservatives will remain committed in 2013 to restoring fiscal sanity to Washington.

U.S. REP. TOM COLE, R-Moore, represents Oklahoma’s 4th Congressional District.

Text Only
  • Is English getting dissed?

    Is the English language being massacred by the young, the linguistically untidy and anyone who uses the Internet? Absolutely.
    Is that anything new? Hardly.
    Many words and expressions in common parlance today would have raised the hackles of language scolds in the not-so-distant past. For evidence, let’s look at some examples from recent newspaper articles.

    July 31, 2014

  • 'Too big to fail' equals 'too eager to borrow'

    Four years ago this month, President Barack Obama signed the Dodd-Frank Act into law, promising that the 848-page financial law would “put a stop to taxpayer bailouts once and for all,” he said. But recently, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren told a Detroit crowd that “the biggest banks are even bigger than they were when they got too big to fail in 2008.”
    Who’s right?

    July 30, 2014

  • Sheltons travel for better life for family

    Some time around 1865 a mixed-race African American couple, William and Mary Shelton, made their way from Mississippi to east Texas. Nothing is known for certain of their origins in he Magnolia state, or the circumstances under which they began their new lives in Texas.

    July 29, 2014

  • Film critic Turan produces book

    Kenneth Turan, who is the film critic for National Public Radio’s “Morning Edition,” has written a book “Not to be Missed, Fifty-Four Favorites from a Life Time of Film.” His list of movies span the gamut from the beginnings of filmmaking through the present day.
    There are some surprising omissions on his list. While he includes two films, “A Touch of Evil” and Chimes at Midnight” made by Orson Welles, and one, “The Third Man,” that Welles starred in but did not direct. He did not however, include “Citizen Kane,” that was the first movie Welles made, that is  often cited by both film critics and historians as a favorite film.

    July 28, 2014

  • Logan County’s disputed zone

    Watchers of “Star Trek” may recall the episode from the original series entitled, “Day of the Dove.” In this episode, Captain Kirk and his crew are forced by a series of circumstances into a confrontation with the Klingons. The conflict eventually resolves after Kirk realizes that the circumstances have been intentionally designed by an alien force which feeds off negative emotions, especially fear and anger. Kirk and his crew communicate this fact to the Klingons and the conflict subsides. No longer feeding upon confrontation, the alien force is weakened and successfully driven away.

    July 28, 2014

  • Russell leads in Sun poll

    Polling results of an unscientific poll at show that Steve Russell, GOP candidate for the 5th District congressional seat, is in the lead with 57 percent of the vote ahead of the Aug. 26 runoff election. Thirty readers participated in the online poll.

    July 28, 2014

  • Healthier and Wealthier? Not in Oklahoma

    Increased copays, decreased coverage, diminished health care access, reduced provider budgets and increased frustration are all the outcomes of the Legislature’s 2014 health care funding decisions. Unlike some years in the past when a languishing state economy forced legislators into making cuts, the undesirable outcomes this year could easily have been avoided.

    July 26, 2014

  • Medicaid reform a necessity

    Historically, education spending by the state of Oklahoma has been the largest budget item. This is no longer the case. In recent years, the state of Oklahoma spends more on Medicaid (operated by the Oklahoma Health Care Authority) than common education and higher education combined, according to the state’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report.

    July 25, 2014

  • Remembering lessons from 1974

    This week marks the 40th anniversary of an important milestone in America’s constitutional history. On July 24, 1974, the Supreme Court voted 8-0 to order the Nixon White House to turn over audiotapes that would prove the president and his close aides were guilty of criminal violations. This ruling established with crystal clarity that the executive branch could not hide behind the shield of executive privilege to protect itself from the consequences of illegal behavior. It was a triumph for the continued vitality of our constitutional form of government.

    July 25, 2014

  • RedBlueAmerica: Is parenting being criminalized in America?

    Debra Harrell was arrested recently after the McDonald’s employee let her daughter spend the day playing in a nearby park while she worked her shift. The South Carolina woman says her daughter had a cell phone in case of danger, and critics say that children once were given the independence to spend a few unsupervised hours in a park.
    Is it a crime to parent “free-range” kids? Does Harrell deserve her problems? Joel Mathis and Ben Boychuk, the RedBlueAmerica columnists, debate the issue.

    July 24, 2014


The runoff race for the 5th District congressional seat is set for Aug. 26. If the voting were today, which candidate would you support?

Al McAffrey
Tom Guild
     View Results