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Barr slams spending in D.C., calls for reform

Published 10:05 pm Saturday, March 9, 2013

U.S. Rep. Andy Barr compared the federal government to a house with five maxed-out credit cards during remarks Saturday at the Franklin County Republican Womens Club Lincoln Day Dinner.

Like much of his campaign, Barrs keynote speech focused on spending in Washington, D.C., and the national debt, which stands at $16.7 trillion.

We are spending in this country $10 billion every single day, said Barr, R-Lexington. We are borrowing $3 billion every day. That comes out to $35,000 every second that we are borrowing.

Barrs words painted a bleak image as he presented his case for mandatory spending reforms. In 10 years, he said, interest payments on the national debt will total $830 billion and, when combined with Medicare and Social Security programs, consume 100 percent of federal revenue.

If we dont act now, if we dont make the important changes with younger people in these programs, if we dont put Medicare and Social Security on a path towards solvency now, then we will face a situation of austerity, he told a crowd of about 60 at the Capital Plaza Hotel.

Federal budget impasses have been common on Capitol Hill in recent years, with one deadline passing after another. The sequester, which will cut $1.2 trillion in defense and domestic spending over a 10-year period, is the product of a deal over the 2011 debt ceiling.

Barr called the sequester a bad idea not because of the $1.2 trillion in cuts, but because the federal government needs to cut more and the indiscriminate nature of the plan.

Even with the $85 billion in annual spending reductions, Barr said the U.S. government is on pace to spend $15 billion more than last year and about 30 percent more than 2007.

If were going to deal with our $1 trillion deficits, if were going to start reducing the $16.7 trillion national debt, we have to reduce spending by more than $85 billion, Barr said.

He accused President Barack Obama of scaring people and refusing to lead and set an intelligent ordering of priorities, referencing recently announced plans to cancel White House tours and potential layoffs for air traffic controllers.

Barr said he hopes the so-called No Budget No Pay Act will force Congress to set spending priorities in a timely manner. Congress, namely the U.S. Senate, has not passed a budget in four years, pushing the nation to the brink of government shutdown after government shutdown.

The one-year act, part of a three-month debt ceiling extension, would suspend lawmakers pay if a budget resolution has not passed by April 15. Congress could collect their checks as soon as a budget is enacted.

For the first time in four years, the U.S. Senate is actually going to pass a budget, Barr said.

Barr also touched on a bipartisan group of freshman representatives who have pledged to address the burgeoning national debt.

He pointed to the group, which has sent a letter to House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., outlining its priorities, as reason for optimism on Capitol Hill.

It was a bipartisan declaration that we in this country have a spending problem, Barr said. I give credit to these Democrats who joined with Republicans in making that recognition.

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