Tags: tom cole | nation | budget | balance | entitlement reform

Rep. Tom Cole: Nation's Budget Can't Be Balanced Without Entitlement Reform

Image: Rep. Tom Cole: Nation's Budget Can't Be Balanced Without Entitlement Reform

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By    |   Thursday, 01 Dec 2016 10:15 AM

The nation's budget can't be balanced unless entitlement program reforms go into place for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, even though President-elect Donald Trump vowed during his campaign not to touch the programs, Rep. Tom Cole said Thursday.

"You can never balance the budget around here," the Oklahoma Republican, who is on the Appropriations and Budget committees, told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" program. 

"Over 60 [percent], almost 70 percent of all federal spending is entitlements, the big three, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid. If you think you're going to balance the budget without reforming them and making tough decisions, you're kidding yourself."

The reforms will emerge, he continued, "whether people want it to or not, because there's no way to make the numbers add up without getting serious about those programs."

During his presidential campaign, Trump told The Daily Signal that he was "not going to cut Social Security like every other Republican, and I'm not going to cut Medicare or Medicaid."

However, Georgia GOP Rep. Tom Price, Trump's pick for Health and Human Services secretary, like House Speaker Paul Ryan, backs a plan to turn Medicare into a "premium support" system, meaning seniors would receive a specific amount of money from the government that would help them buy health coverage from a private company, rather than participate in government-run Medicare coverage.

Meanwhile, Cole said on Thursday that while Trump has called for Congress to repeal and replace Obamacare, he agrees with many experts that there will be a transition period, but still, Republican lawmakers "want to act quickly and decisively."

He pointed out that through the House Republicans' "Better Way" initiative, that includes "everything from medical liability insurance reform to associated healthcare plans, where small companies combine together into purchasing pools to selling insurance across state lines. It's a pretty full and robust system."

However, the Oklahoma lawmaker said he does not think Congress can "immediately pull the rug out from under people and both the president-elect and probably the secretary-designate have made it clear they want to move but not in ways that are destructive to individuals."

Cole also discussed the fact that just one out of 12 appropriations bills has passed since Ryan took over as speaker, and a budget hasn't passed.

"Our members supported the Republican budget reported out of committee, but we couldn't get 218 [votes]," said Cole. "You can't expect Democrats to pass a Republican budget. That's pretty much our responsibility.

"On appropriation bills, all 12 reported out of committee. The real problem was that the Senate quit picking up bills and bringing them on the floor and that affects what we do over here. You won't send legislation to the floor when it has no chance of moving through the Senate whatsoever."

Also, the decision has been made "at the leadership level and by the incoming administration" not to have all spending set through the end of the fiscal year, said Cole, and he thinks "that was a mistake."

"We'll have to write two sets of appropriation bills," said Cole. "We'll get it done. With all of the other things on the table so to speak that Mr. Trump is proposing, this Congress shouldn't push off its responsibilities and this administration shouldn't push off its responsibilities on the next administration."

He said a continuing resolution will be passed stretching the end of April, and he's concerned there will be temptation to continue it through Sept. 30, the end of the fiscal year, but "that's sloppy appropriating and budgeting."

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Politics
The nation's budget can't be balanced unless entitlement program reforms go into place for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, even though President-elect Donald Trump vowed during his campaign not to touch the programs, Rep. Tom Cole said Thursday.
tom cole, nation, budget, balance, entitlement reform
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2016-15-01
Thursday, 01 Dec 2016 10:15 AM
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