Sen. Jerry Moran held a town hall meeting Wednesday in El Dorado
Sen. Jerry Moran discussed topics ranging from health care to veterans benefits and the future of the country during a town hall meeting at the El Dorado Chamber of Commerce Wednesday morning.
He said he has visited all 105 of his counties and is now on his second trip around.
“I think we have a lot of things to undo,” he continued.
He said his conversations at these meetings helps him understand what is important to Kansans and keep in touch with his roots.
“Mostly what I focus on is what is important in this area,” he said.
Those things include agriculture, healthcare, small business, jobs, broadband to rural parts of the counties and education.
“The number one national issue at least that we can do something about is the federal deficit, the spending pattern and debt,” he said. “We are trying to get federal spending under control so the federal deficit will be on a downward path.”
Moran then took questions and comments from the standing-room only crowd in the conference room.
One attendee suggested the country needs to have a second revolution and put all of Moran’s colleagues in front of a real judge.
Moran said if the American people trust them enough to elect the Republicans one more time, they will have to do better in the Senate when they have the majority.
“I have taken on the task of changing the Senate by electing more Republicans in 2014,” he said.
Looking at the actions of the Senate, he said if they had a different Senate they may be able to pass an appropriations bill to say no money would be spent on the things they want to stop.
Among the items Moran has voted on, he voted against No Child Left Behind and the prescription drug program.
One thing that has come up is the exception that says if they are on a recess, the president can appointment people without their approval, so President Obama appointed several individuals on a weekend, something they are now fighting in court.
Moran also said he believed they should need to have a declaration of war to go to combat.
“It’s it’s not worth paying for, it’s not worth asking someone to die for,” he continued.
Continuing on the topic of veterans, one veteran attending said he had no problem reducing his retirement benefits if it was needed, with one requirement.
“Shame on you for not reducing the other federal retirees’ benefits,” the veteran told Moran.
He went on to say if they do get a Republican Senate they need to have a visual person and spokesperson who can relate to the public.
Moran pointed out he did argue against and vote against the retirement plan for veterans.
He said not one amendment was allowed to the entire budget and now they are trying to fix something they could have solved before it was passed.
“The politics was they didn’t want to offend federal retirees, so they cut veterans’ retirement,” Moran said, adding they would be seeing a lot of people taking credit for fixing that action.
He also agreed there was no real Republican spokesperson.
Comments then moved on to the last government shutdown. That citizen said he had always thought of the parks as being a benign service, but as he watched television coverage he saw a mean streak come through them. He suggested decentralizing the parks service and giving the parks back to the states.
“We need to reduce the federal government’s hand into our everyday living,” the citizen said. “This would be one step that could be done.”
Moran also was asked how he felt about recalling the 17th amendment.
“I guess most people would say we want to directly elect senators,” Moran said.
He said the amendment made it by popular election rather than the U.S. legislators being elected by state legislators.
“If we were elected by legislators we would be less likely to do the things so many find offensive and pass the buck back to them (states),” Moran continued. “I think the founders had it right.”
Looking at the parks situation, Moran said he was there two times with WWII veterans who had gone to see their memorial and both times the parks employees decided to take their coffee breaks at those times.
He said what people had seen on TV was when the higher-ups had told the employees they had to keep the veterans out.
It was pointed out by one person attending the federal government had gone out of its way to show how powerful it is.
Moran said one problem today is Democrats support Democrats and Republicans support Republicans, but it should be looking at the other branches and saying what is legislative authority and not executive authority.
“We’ve gotten into this mindset it’s Republic versus Democrat,” he said.
The questions then moved to highway funding, encouraging Moran to work to improve that situation.
“We can’t seem to pass a transportation plan longer than a few months,” Moran said. “I’m on the side that that needs to change.”
He said the president’s stimulus affected everything but what it was supposed to, infrastructure. He also said they need to take the necessary steps to be able to compete in a global economy.
Looking specifically at roads, he said funding is a big issue. Because vehicles are more efficient people are buying less gas so there is less gas tax revenue for that fund trust, and costs for the work are continuing to increase.
He said Congress was unwilling to propose any way to put money into that fund. Moran thought users fees were the best way to fund that.
The next comment pointed out how Mitch McConnell, Senate minority leader, was destroying the conservative efforts.
Another concern was for the country’s sovereignty and it was pointed out the border control isn’t even given live ammunition.
“The lawlessness of this president, I can’t even believe this is my country,” one attendee said.
Moran said he was not for amnesty and had voted against the immigration bill.
The next audience member to speak told Moran he was the only man in Washington, D.C., he trusted and thanked Moran for his continued leadership and care of veterans and their health care.
“You have been an advocate for veterans all through the state,” the man said.
Moran said one thing he is concerned about is health care for veterans, particularly access to it. One thing they have done is create outpatient services for those who don’t live near a VA hospital, but one problem they are running into is finding doctors for them.
One thing they had passed was a pilot program saying if a veteran is a certain number of miles from a VA or outpatient clinic they can go to the doctor in their own town. This was done in counties around Pratt. The pilot ends this year and they are pushing to make it statewide.
Next, Butler Community College President Kim Krull voiced her appreciation of Moran’s work to support education and urged him to continue that support.
In addition, Susan B. Allen Memorial Hospital President and CEO Gayle Arnett thanked Moran for his support of health care and said they appreciate his knowledge of the industry. She also reminded him their funding is unsure as well.
One question asked of Moran was what voters could do with their associates in other states to get the message out to the other states to get rid of Harry Reid, Senate majority leader.
Moran said people should educate and encourage people who care and have an opinion to get out and vote. He said they have the potential for Republicans to get the majority in the Senate and retain the majority in the House.
“When did living within our means and abiding by the Constitution become a radical way of thinking?” Moran posed to the audience.
He encouraged the Tea Party and Republicans to find candidates that appeal to both groups.
“The basis for which we can come together is so much greater than what separates us,” he said.
Moran said politics have become a game and the national media talks about who wins and loses, while ignoring the big story.
“I appreciate the opportunity you have given me to serve you,” Moran said. “I appreciate your prayers.
“It’s still a great country. I think we are supposed to pass on to the next generation a country with freedoms and liberties still in tact. We’re in this together.”
Julie Clements can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.