The meeting room at Barton County College’s Fine Arts building was filled to capacity by concerned constituents eager to interact with “Big First” U.S. House Representative Tim Huelskamp Tuesday morning. It was one of several town hall meetings organized by Huelskamp staffers taking place during a brief congressional break.
Huelskamp right away commented on his recent removal from the Agriculture and Budget Committees by fellow Republicans in December. He said these were the same elected officials that felt they didn’t need to debate the farm bill on the house floor. That bill failed to be passed, leading the Congress to extend the 2008 farm bill for one more year.
“This card doesn’t say it, but it belongs to the people of Kansas,” he said. He then pulled out his electronic voting card issued to all House Representatives, and passed it around to constituents.
“I work for you, not for them.”
“I’ll be blunt and to the point,” he began. “Our country is bankrupt and we can’t wait four more years to solve the debt problem.”
Huelskamp pointed to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security as factors driving federal debt.
He said nearly 50 percent of debt is owned by foreigners, yet the fact that the Federal Government is buying back debt by digitizing money is troublesome because it is bound to lead to inflation in the long term. In the short term, Huelskamp said the federal government isn’t taking into consideration the pricing of food when considering inflation. “They say there is no inflation, but I don’t think they’ve looked at their grocery receipts lately,” he said.
“One word you need to scratch from your vocabulary is default,” he said. “It won’t happen. Less than 10 percent of the budget is used to pay debt.” But the country is still operating at a 40 percent deficit. He worked on a committee that proposed a budget that would be balanced in seven to eight years, he said, but it did not receive the required number of votes to pass.
“We need to make a plan of how we are going to pay it off before we borrow it,” he said.
Huelskamp railed against Obamacare, decrying it is too full of regulations and will cost the country too much, and will cause entrepreneurship and innovation to slow.
“I was actually at a bipartisan press conference last week, to repeal part of Obamacare,” he said. “There were two democrats there, and I appreciate them being there, that said they loved the President’s health care plan, except the Independent Payment Advisory Board. It will consist of 15 people appointed this spring that will make decisions about the future funding of Medicare.
“If you don’t like their decisions, that’s tough, because they are unaccountable, unelected bureaucrats who aren’t even confirmed by the U.S. Senate. I’m not sure how long they will serve. They are going to have to cut $700 billion out of Medicare in the next decade,” he said. “I bet no one member of that 15 member board will ever visit a small town hospital. I have 70 in the first district. It’s flyover country, it’s small hospitals, and I’m frankly worried about that.”
Other topics commented on included social security, opposition to Roe vs. Wade, and his position on providing aid to victims of hurricane Sandy.