Senator Lankford Releases Podcast on Budget Reform

CLICK HERE to listen to the podcast

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – The Office of Senator James Lankford (R-OK) today released the fifth episode of Lankford’s podcast, “The Breakdown with James Lankford.” The episode focuses on the current budget and spending process and the ways it has failed to work properly since the 1970s. Lankford discusses the need for significant budget reform, debt and deficit reduction, discretionary and mandatory spending changes, the work of the Joint Select Committee on Budget and Appropriations Process Reform, and steps Congress can take to fix our broken budget process.

Last week, Lankford spoke on the Senate floor to urge his colleagues to make significant reforms to the budget and appropriation process.

Lankford serves on the Senate Committee on Appropriations, which has jurisdiction over all discretionary spending in the Senate. Lankford recently served on the Joint Select Committee on Budget and Appropriations Process Reform, a bi-partisan, bi-cameral panel tasked with proposing a set of solutions to significantly overhaul the budget and appropriations process for the better. On November 29, the select committee’s product did not receive the votes required to move forward. Lankford did not support the bill in committee because it lacked significant reforms to the budget process.


On the national debt and deficit:

(9:16-12:57) Lankford: We’ve also got out of balance. So, we’ve got all this spending that’s happening. We’ve got about a little over $3 trillion in income coming into the Treasury but $4 trillion in spending. So, you’ve got a lot of deficit spending right now that’s happening. Where is the deficit coming from?

Staff: That deficit is coming from essentially our overspending. This year, we are going to run a $780 billion deficit. Next year, it’s going to top a trillion dollars. CBO, our official Congressional scorekeeper, … says that’s going to continue above a trillion sort-of in perpetuity. We are not in a good place.

Lankford: We are not in a good place at all. Back in Oklahoma, I have had people catch me and say, ‘The reason we have a deficit right now is because of that crazy tax bill you passed last year.’ And I will typically smile at them and I will listen to what they are saying because I want to hear people out and what they are thinking on it, but I usually surprise them when I say, ‘OK – we did the tax cut last year, and the reason we did that was because the economy was running really sluggish, and we believed we had to do something to the economy to help grow jobs. If more people have a job, and more people are making more money, they pay more in taxes. Because they have a job now, they maybe didn’t last year, now they have a job, they’re paying taxes. It is a risk when you cut taxes like that. The strategic way that we did it, to lower taxes, is a risk if the economy is going to grow. The result of it is interesting though. We did a tax cut last year. Our revenue is higher into the Treasury this year than it was last year. I have folks say all the time, ‘This giant deficit is because of the tax cut.’ Zero of it is because of the tax cut, we actually have more revenue coming in this year than last year.

Staff: During that same period that you mentioned from January to October, the Treasury tells us we actually have $14 billion more in revenue this year than we did last year.

Lankford: Though there was a tax cut, more people have a job, more people are making more money, there’s more investment in the economy, all of those things are actually happening and there’s more revenue coming into the Treasury. This is only the first year of that tax change. None of the deficit is because of a tax cut. We have a big deficit for something very different. It is some of the mandatory spending programs that are out there, we have more people retiring, and so more people are retiring, obviously there is going to be more social security benefits, there’s going to be more Medicare, those are reasonable things and predictable things to be able to cover. One of our biggest issues is interest. When you have a $22 trillion debt, you have to pay interest on that to somebody. Our interest payments are $400 billion as of next year. $400 billion in one year. This year, it’s a little over $300 billion just in interest payments. So, that’s chopping up and will be around half of our deficit spending, just in this giant interest payment. If we didn’t have this big debt, we wouldn’t have this big interest payment, but it’s a snowball effect, because the bigger the interest payment becomes, then that means the bigger the deficit becomes, you can’t get on top of it, because you can’t control and manage it.

Staff: That’s right. By the end of the decade, projections show that we’re going to be spending close to a trillion dollars, only in interest. That’s a scary thought because what that does is crowd other spending out, other priorities we have like defense, medical research, we just don’t have enough resources to go around for those priorities because we are spending it on national debt.

Lankford: It’s a serious issue, to say the least, so we are trying to figure out how to get on top of it.