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

Fiscal Five Minutes by the Peterson Foundation

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 18, 2019 Press Release

WASHINGTON – Congressman Jim Cooper (TN-05) issued the following statement on his decision to vote to charge President Trump with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress:

Jul 22, 2019 Press Release

WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper (TN-05) joined Rep. Tim Walberg (R-MI) to reintroduce H.R. 3830, the Taxpayers Right-To-Know Act. The bipartisan bill, which passed the House in each of the last three Congresses, would provide Americans with more information on how federal tax dollars are being spent and help eliminate duplicative and wasteful government programs. 

Jul 18, 2019 Press Release

WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper (TN-05) made the following statement following the passage of the Raise the Wage Act. The bill amends the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 to increase the federal minimum wage from its present rate of $7.25 per hour.

Jun 4, 2019 Press Release

WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper (TN-05) made the following statement following the passage of H.R. 6, the American Dream and Promise Act of 2019, in the House of Representatives. 

“Many of these residents are students and have lived in the U.S. for years. They have become vital members of our community. For a lot of them, especially the DREAMers who were brought to the U.S. as children, it is the only home they know. They are going to school, working and serving in our military. They also make significant contributions to our economy. 

May 13, 2019 Webform
Jan 31, 2019 Press Release

WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper (TN-05) announced that he is cosponsoring the Bicameral Congressional Trade Authority Act of 2019, which was introduced this week.

Jan 8, 2019 Press Release

WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper (TN-05) issued the following statement on Trump’s address about his proposed border wall.

Jan 4, 2019 Press Release

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

The No Budget, No Pay Act, introduced with Reps. Stephanie Murphy (D-FL) and Vern Buchanan (R-FL), would prevent House and Senate members from receiving their salary if they miss annual deadlines for budget and appropriations bills, and would not be paid retroactively.

Sep 26, 2018 Press Release

WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper (TN-05) and U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford (SC-01) today introduced the Promoting Responsible and Free Trade Act, a bipartisan bill that would give Congress a stronger role in implementing trade policy and scrutinizing unnecessary tariffs.

Aug 31, 2018 Press Release

WASHINGTON – Weeks after fighting for such an outcome, U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper (TN-05) celebrated the end of President Trump’s Commerce Department tariff on a chief component of newsprint, heralding a big win for local and national media organizations that rely on the printed page.

"This is an awesome week for American journalism,” Rep. Cooper said. “Newspapers are important defenders of democracy. Thank goodness the threat of newspaper tariffs is over.”