Congressman Jim Cooper

Representing the 5th District of Tennessee
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Budget and Economy


The biggest crisis our nation faces is our fiscal future, and we must act soon to start solving these problems.

As you know, I’ve spent decades talking about these issues. In fact, I've been called everything from  “A Budget Cassandra”  to a Fiscal Hero to “Mr. Fiscal Responsibility” and “Dr. Doom” because I am such a fierce advocate for balanced and honest federal budgeting. I've served on the Budget and the Oversight and Government Reform Committees and used my position in the fiscally responsible Blue Dog Coalition to advocate for making the hard choices that lead to balanced budgets: cutting spending, closing tax loopholes and being upfront with taxpayers about how the federal government spends their money.

I was one of the first Members to reject earmarks. I've also supported a balanced budget amendment, voted for across-the-board spending cuts and worked to reinstate "pay-as-you-go" rules into law. I've introduced bipartisan bills to eliminate wasteful spending and prevent agencies from duplicating programs that already exist. The main ideas behind my No Budget, No Pay Act, which would stop paying Congress if it fails to pass our budget and spending bills on time, became the law of the land in early 2013. I also have a bill to stop congressional pay if we default.

I will also continue to push for a replacement for sequestration. These are thoughtless cuts, not surgical ones, and only go into effect because Congress failed to pass a comprehensive debt reduction plan. Sequestration was designed by Congress to force action on reducing our national debt. It was never intended as good fiscal policy. So far, only one bipartisan and balanced budget has been introduced in Congress that's big enough to address our problems – theSimpson-Bowles budget alternative that I introduced in 2012. Although it didn't win the support of the majority in Congress, it was praised by budget experts and newspapers all over the country as a serious effort that would actually work.

We need citizens, business leaders and elected officials to work together to protect the future of our nation. From debt ceiling debates to fiscal cliffs, I believe delay is never an option. Every day we wait adds $8 billion to our debt, delays the creation of millions of private-sector jobs and risks additional downgrades of our credit rating. The U.S. already lost its AAA credit rating in 2011 due to congressional mismanagement, creating upward pressure on interest rates. Tragically, Congress has become a risk factor.

Links & Additional Information

What is the Debt Ceiling?

Congressional Budget Office (CBO)

House Budget Committee

Financial Report of the United States from the Department of the Treasury

Current U.S. Debt

The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB)

Government Accountability Office (GAO)

Calculate Your Tax Receipt


More on Budget and Economy

Apr 25, 2017 Press Release

WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper (TN-05) today announced he has once again cosponsored the Hold Congress Accountable Act, a bill that would reduce the salary of members of Congress in the event of a government shutdown for as long as the shutdown continues.

Unless the House and Senate pass a bill to keep the government open, a shutdown is set to begin at 12:01 a.m. Saturday.

Mar 29, 2017 Press Release

WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper (TN-05) today reintroduced bipartisan legislation that would stop congressional pay if Congress fails to pass America’s budget bills on time.

A longtime advocate for congressional reform, Rep. Cooper first introduced the No Budget, No Pay Act in 2011 after a Nashville constituent asked why Congress is allowed to miss budget and tax deadlines while the public has no such luxury.

Mar 16, 2017 Press Release

WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper (TN-05) today issued the following statement on President Trump’s budget proposal:

“There are many problems with the Trump budget. It hurts our standing abroad, assumes climate change is a myth, puts our local art and music programs in jeopardy, and cuts after-school and affordable housing programs that Nashvillians need. It also omits Trump campaign priorities like jobs and infrastructure spending.

Jan 27, 2017 Press Release

NASHVILLE – U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper (TN-05) today announced his IssueWatch project, a twice-weekly online newsletter dedicated to Middle Tennesseans interested in important congressional updates and other major happenings in Washington.

Jan 27, 2017 Press Release

WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper (TN-05) today reintroduced two bills that would stop the private practice of gerrymandering and unmask the secretive congressional redistricting process so all Americans can participate.

Jan 25, 2017 Page

Knowledge is power, but it’s never been more important to stay informed. Sign-up for IssueWatch, a twice-weekly online newsletter dedicated to Middle Tennesseans interested in following important congressional news and other major happenings in Washington.

Nov 28, 2016 Press Release

WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper (TN-05) and the Democratic Members of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform sent a letter to Chairman Jason Chaffetz requesting an immediate review of President-elect Donald Trump’s financial arrangements.

In August, OGR Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz pledged to hold the next President-elect accountable, no matter who is in the White House saying his “job is to hold them accountable and provide that oversight.”

Dec 16, 2015 Press Release

WASHINGTONU.S. Rep. Jim Cooper (TN-5) praised funding for a new federal courthouse in Nashville, culminating an effort that began when authorities deemed the existing courthouse “inadequate” more than two decades ago.

Cooper applauded Sen. Lamar Alexander, a Tennessee member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, for his leadership. 

Oct 28, 2015 Press Release

WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper (TN-05) today voted for the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, a bill that averts default and lessens the blow of across-the-board spending cuts.

“Congress should stop playing games of ‘chicken’ like this: driving America too close to the fiscal cliff in order to scare voters,” Rep. Cooper said. “Nothing is more important than keeping America’s credit rating strong because that determines the financial strength of the nation.”

Oct 19, 2015 Press Release

WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper (TN-05) has reintroduced legislation that would stop congressional pay if America defaults on the national debt.

“Risking default is like playing with nitroglycerin. Never a good idea,” Rep. Cooper said. “This is much worse than shutting down government. This would be shutting down America. If Members of Congress betray our country by forcing America to default on our debts, we do not deserve to be paid. In fact, we deserve worse punishments.”