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
  • Technology that will stimulate journalism’s future is now here

    To say technology has changed the newspaper media industry is understating the obvious. While much discussion focuses on how we read the news, technology is changing the way we report the news. The image of a reporter showing up to a scene with a pen and a pad is iconic but lost to the vestiges of time.
    I am asked frequently about the future of newspapers and, in particular, what does a successful future look like. For journalists, to be successful is to command multiple technologies and share news with readers in new and exciting ways.

    July 23, 2014

  • New Orleans features its own “Running of the Bulls”

    On July12, the streets of the Warehouse District of New Orleans were filled with thousands of young men who were seeking to avoid being hit with plastic bats wielded by women on roller skates as part of the annual “Running of the Bulls” that takes place in New Orleans.
    The event is based on the “Running of the Bulls” that occurs in Pamplona, Spain, that is  part of an annual occurrence in which a group of bulls rampage through the streets of Pamplona while men run from them to avoid being gored by their sharp horns. That event was introduced to the English-speaking world by Ernest Hemingway, who included scenes from it in his critically acclaimed 1926 novel “The Sun also Rises.”

    July 22, 2014

  • OTHER VIEW: Newsday: Lapses on deadly diseases demand explanation

    When we heard that the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had created a potentially lethal safety risk by improperly sending deadly pathogens — like anthrax — to other laboratories around the country, our first reaction was disbelief.

    July 22, 2014

  • Holding government accountable for open meeting violations

    A few weeks ago I wrote about the recent success of three important government transparency proposals which will go into law this year.

    July 21, 2014

  • GUEST OPINION — Oklahoma GOP voters want educational choices

    A Braun Research survey released in January showed that Oklahoma voters — Republicans, Democrats, and Independents alike — favor parental choice in education.

    July 21, 2014

  • HEY HINK: IRS interferes with citizens’ rights of free speech

    The patient is gravely ill. We have detected traces of a deadly venom in the bloodstream. We don’t know how widespread the poison is, but we know, if not counteracted, toxins of this kind can rot the patient’s vital organs and could ultimately prove fatal.

    July 19, 2014

  • 130408_NT_BEA_good kids We're raising a generation of timid kids

    A week ago, a woman was charged with leaving her child in the car while she went into a store. Her 11-year-old child. This week, a woman was arrested for allowing her 9-year-old daughter to go to the park alone. Which raises just one question: America, what the heck is wrong with you?

    July 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • RedBlueAmerica: What should the U.S. do about illegal immigrant children?

    The crisis along the southern U.S. border has politicians and immigration officials scrambling. More than 52,000 children, mostly from Central American nations, have arrived so far this year. The Department of Homeland Security is running out of space to hold them all.
    President Barack Obama is asking Congress for $3.7 billion in borrowed money from taxpayers to cover the growing “care, feeding and transportation costs of unaccompanied children and family groups” when our own veterans are not taken care of. Texas Gov. Rick Perry criticized the president’s plan, saying more money should go toward securing the border.

    July 17, 2014

  • VA scandal highlights the need to change Pentagon spending priorities

    The ongoing Department of Veterans Affairs scandal raises an important question: When our veterans are being denied access to basic health care, why is the Pentagon squandering billions of dollars on programs that do not benefit our military forces? Is there a link in organization attitudes?

    July 16, 2014

  • For better politics, it’s time for some raging moderates

    Like more than 20 percent of my fellow Californians, I am now classified as a no-party-preference voter, registered to vote but with no affiliation to any of the state’s political parties.
    I am for lower taxes and for marriage equality. I am tough on crime and I am anti-abortion. I believe that a pathway to citizenship is a necessary part of immigration reform and that student test scores should be a critical component of teacher evaluations.

    July 15, 2014


If the Republican runoff for the 5th District congressional seat were today, which candidate would you vote for?

Patrice Douglas
Steve Russell
     View Results