Congressman Jim Cooper

Representing the 5th District of Tennessee

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

Jul 26, 2018 Press Release

“Tariff” is an ugly word. It’s not a cuss word or an insult, but it’s a government word, used mainly in capitols and legislatures.

If someone “puts a tariff on you,” it sounds like a hex. Fortunately, only presidents or Congress can impose tariffs. Think of tariffs as Washington voodoo.

A tariff is not a hex but a tax — or series of taxes — on what other nations try to sell to us. Politicians are not brave enough to call them tax hikes, but they are.

Jul 17, 2018 Press Release

WASHINGTON – Testifying to the U.S. International Trade Commission this morning, U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper (TN-05) denounced the Commerce Department’s tariff on a chief component of newsprint, citing the immense financial burden for local and national media organizations that rely on the printed page.

“The damage this tariff will do to the newspaper and printing industries will be catastrophic,” Rep. Cooper said in remarks submitted for the record. “Less news will lead to an increasingly distant and ill-informed American citizen.”

Mar 28, 2018 Press Release
Fighting a push to resurrect pork-barrel federal spending, U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper (TN-05), U.S. Rep. Kathleen Rice (NY-04), U.S. Rep. Ted Budd (NC-13) and U.S. Rep. Ralph Norman (SC-05) today announced bipartisan legislation that would permanently ban earmarks from the legislative process.
Feb 9, 2018 Press Release

WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper (TN-05) today issued the following statement:

“This bill is fiscal lunacy. In less than two months, $4 trillion has been added to our debt and $1 trillion deficits are guaranteed for the foreseeable future,” Rep. Cooper said. “President Trump bankrupted several companies already; now he’s trying to bankrupt America. There are responsible ways to fund the government. This definitely was not one of them.”

Jan 19, 2018 Press Release


A list of government agencies and how you might be affected during a shutdown.

Dec 19, 2017 Press Release

WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper (TN-05) today issued the following statement after voting against the Republican tax bill:

Dec 6, 2017 Press Release

WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper (TN-05) today criticized congressional leaders for general inaction and incompetence, citing a long list of missed deadlines, stalled priorities and policy blunders.

Rep. Cooper urged House leadership to clear several must-pass measures, and he pushed for self-policing bills that would hold Congress accountable for inaction and misbehavior.

Nov 15, 2017 Press Release

WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper (TN-05) today amplified his opposition to the House Republican tax plan, highlighting specific ways it would hurt Middle Tennesseans in Cheatham, Davidson and Dickson counties.

Nov 2, 2017 Press Release

WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper (TN-05) today issued the following statement on the Republican tax plan:

“The Republican tax plan isn’t real reform. It’s real pain for Tennesseans. It hurts families and adds $1.5 trillion to the debt. Surely America can do better,” Rep. Cooper said. “I agree our current tax code is broken, but Republicans should start from scratch and work with Democrats so we can pass a tax bill that can actually become law.”

Sep 6, 2017 Press Release

WASHINGTON – As Congress returned from its August recess and Republican majorities failed to develop a plan for funding government, U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper (TN-5) reintroduced a bill that would stop congressional pay in case of an even bigger catastrophe: American default.

“It’s our duty in Congress to keep America strong. Risking our nation’s credit rating hurts America. Members of Congress should do their jobs, not play political games,” Rep. Cooper said. “Shutting down government is shameful. Defaulting on our debt is dangerous.”