The Norman Transcript

Government

October 22, 2013

Cole: Budget negotiations will be tough going

(Continued)

NORMAN —

Tying budget cost-of-living increases to the Chained CPI means a “slower rate of growth,” for programs like Social Security.

“It’s not a reduction — benefits don’t grow as rapidly,” Cole said.

Finding common ground might get the ball rolling, but it won’t eliminate the potentially divisive nature of the talks when it comes to discretionary versus non-discretionary spending.

“The first thing is to actually get a budget,” Cole said. “We haven’t had one since 2009.”

Namely, the budget the Senate passed in March was the first in four years. Because the Democrats control the Senate and the Republicans control the House, getting a budget resolution adopted will require bipartisan effort, he said.

Second on Cole’s budget priority list is to continue to make progress on cutting the deficit. Cole said the deficit has been cut in half the last three years, but more needs to be done.

Dealing with the sequestration issue and the resulting furloughs is also a high priority for the congressman. The district Cole represents includes two military bases — Tinker Air Force Base and Fort Sill near Lawton — as well as the Chickasaw National Recreation Area and the National Weather Center in Norman.

“We’re going to continue to have shutdown on this sequester system,” Cole said.

Cole believes the solution is to take a slice out of the entitlement pie, which currently accounts for 60 percent of the federal budget. Making those cuts is “politically difficult” but necessary for budget stability, he said.

“If you don’t solve the entitlement side, everything that’s discretionary is going to get hurt,” Cole said.

Identifying and eliminating waste is harder than some might think.

“People always think government waste is something other than what they use,” he said.

Joy Hampton

366-3544

jhampton@

normantranscript.com

 

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