Congressman Jerry Moran’s 14th and final listening tour made a stop in Great Bend Tuesday morning. Come January, Moran will address constituents as one of Kansas’ newest senators.
As Kansas' First District congressman, he had 64 counties to visit each year. As a senator, he will have 105. "I want to make sure I don’t lose the personal touch," he told those gathered at Great Bend’s Front Door facility.
The Barton County visit was his fifth in this swing. He has already addressed constituents in Clay, Geary, Marshall and Washington counties.
"For 14 years, my focus has been Kansas oriented," he said. He wants to keep that rural prospective. Sadly, he said, few of his colleagues understand that way of looking at things.
After the current Thanksgiving recess ends and he returns to Washington, D.C., to the lame duck Congress, he said he would be thankful if there were movement on the appropriations bills and tax codes. "I hope they will show some guidance."
He pinned the cause of the current economic recession on the lack of leadership on Capitol Hill. When it comes to taxes and federal regulations, "we don’t know what the rules are. Everybody is holding back to see what is next."
From financial to environmental mandates, "they need to be based on sound science and common sense," the congressman said.
However, despite what he termed the current Democratic leadership’s aggressive agenda, many Democrats are taking a more moderate line. "There was a message delivered in this election and they don’t want to walk over that message."
His core issues continue to be agriculture, small businesses and assuring the survival of "main street," health care (keeping hospital doors open, despite what he sees as flaws in the recent health care reform law), making sure rural areas don’t lag behind in access to technology, education, and services for veterans.
Of the Federal Reserve System’s release recently of additional stimulus money, Moran said he can’t control the actions of the FED. But, "Congress and the president set the stage by spending too much money."
He also doesn’t agree with the practice of "stealing" money from Social Security to pay for other expenses. Although, the government promises to pay the money back, "it must masks deficit spending."
Even though he feels sorry for Social Security recipients who haven’t had a cost of living increase in the past two years, he can’t support an increase. To give each recipient a $250 raise would cost $8 billion. "We simply can’t borrow another $8 billion from our future."
Whether it’s Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid, Moran prefers gradual changes to return the programs to full solvency. Raising the retirement age might be an option.
While addressing health issues, he address the health care reform and the likelihood that it might undergo some changes. "There are some legitimate legal arguments to parts of the plan." He doubts it will be tossed out, but amendments could be forced by Republicans threatening to withhold funding.
As for immigration, Moran said he believes in fixing and strengthening border security, and denying benefits to those in the country illegally.
He also said no one energy source is sufficient to meet future needs. "We need a wide variety of options" from solar to wind to coal to nuclear power.
Moran was born in Great Bend but raised in Plainville He attended Fort Hays State University, and the University of Kansas at Lawrence, where he completed degrees in economics and law. After an early career as a banker, Moran established a law practice in Hays and returned to FHSU as an adjunct political science professor.
He served for eight years (1989–1996) in the Kansas Senate. He was then elected to Congress in 1996. After five terms, he ran for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Sam Brownback who ran for Kansas governor. He defeated Todd Tiahrt, Wichita, in the primary and Democrat Lisa Johnston, Libertarian Michael Dann, and Reform Party Candidate Joe Bellis in the general election.