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

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.”

Feb 27, 2015 Press Release

WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper (TN-05) highlighted this week’s release of the U.S. Treasury Department’s annual Financial Report of the United States, indicating $64.4 trillion in total unfunded liabilities, an increase of $2.8 trillion over 2013.

The Financial Report is the only annual government financial statement published in public-company format, which accounts for unfunded liabilities such as Social Security and Medicare.

Unfunded liabilities rose at a rate of nearly $8 billion per day last year.

Jan 7, 2015 Press Release

WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper (TN-05) today introduced bipartisan legislation that would stop congressional pay if Congress doesn’t pass America’s budget bills on time.

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

“Congress should pay its bills on time,” Cooper said. “Otherwise, it should work for free.”

Jan 6, 2015 Press Release

WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper (TN-5) made the following remarks today after being sworn in as part of the 114th Congress:

“Congress must come together for the good of the country. Our job is to keep America number one and to give hardworking citizens a chance to succeed. The economy is making progress, but wages are flat and living expenses are soaring. Congress should work to reverse those trends and preserve America’s greatness.”

Dec 12, 2014 Press Release

WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper (TN-5) today issued a statement following his vote against a $1.1 trillion spending bill.

“Congress had all year to do its job. But it again waited until the final hours and made shady backroom deals. This bill is no way to govern," Cooper said.

Jul 22, 2014 Press Release

Rep. Jim Cooper avoids partisan extremes
By Paul C. Barton

(Excerpts from The Tennessean)

May 28, 2014 Press Release

WASHINGTON – The Campaign to Fix the Debt recently named U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper (TN-5) one of 13 “fiscal heroes” in the House of Representatives for his longtime commitment to solving America’s financial problems.

“We have to get serious about our national debt or we could permanently damage our country,” Cooper said. “Even Admiral Mike Mullen has said our debt is the biggest threat facing America.”

May 8, 2014 Press Release

WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper (TN-5) bashed what he called “a zombie earmark” and helped strip money from a dead project Wednesday at the House Armed Services Committee markup of the National Defense Authorization Act.

Cooper said delays and cost overruns at a mixed oxide (MOX) fuel fabrication facility in South Carolina justified his criticisms. The Department of Energy recently conducted a review of MOX – a plutonium disposal facility that has not yet been completed – and decided to cancel the South Carolina program due to unaffordability.