Kansas Common Sense
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President Obama, I Will Vote “No”
This week, I informed President Obama that I will vote “no” on his request to raise the debt ceiling. Please find the full text of my letter to the president below:
March 22, 2011
Dear President Obama:
Our country is facing enormous fiscal challenges, which left unchecked will have a disastrous impact on the future of our nation. For too long, members of both political parties have ignored this growing fiscal crisis and allowed our country to live well beyond its means.
Our national debt now stands at more than $14 trillion – slowing our economic growth and threatening the prosperity of future generations who will have to pay for our irresponsibility. In the next three decades, our debt will grow to more than three times the size of our entire economy. This level of government spending is unsustainable and must not continue.
Congress will soon vote on whether to allow our country to take on even more debt – for the 11th time in the last decade. The simple truth is it would be irresponsible to allow this pattern of spending to continue without a serious plan in place to reduce the deficit.
Last year, mandatory spending made up 56 percent of our entire budget. In the coming decade, expenditures on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are expected to double as more Americans retire and fewer workers replace them. Social Security already pays out more than it collects and Medicare’s unfunded liabilities are tens of trillions of dollars. We must reform these programs, but it will take strong leadership and the commitment of both political parties.
In February 2010, you created the bipartisan National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform to make recommendations on how best to address our fiscal situation in the short and long term. The Commission’s work marked an important first step on the path forward, but none of their recommendations to improve the fiscal outlook were included in your FY2012 budget proposal. Your Administration has also been notably absent from important budget discussions in Congress over the past few months.
Americans are looking for leadership in Washington to confront the problems of today, not push them off on future generations. To date, you have provided little or no leadership on what I believe to be the most important issue facing our nation – our national debt. With no indication that your willingness to lead will change, I want to inform you I will vote “no” on your request to raise the debt ceiling.
Oftentimes, the debate about government spending is seen as a philosophical, academic, or partisan issue, but the truth is out-of-control borrowing and spending has very real consequences on the daily lives of Americans. We are facing a turning point in our country’s history and can no longer delay difficult decisions.
Whether we have the courage to tackle our fiscal crisis now will determine the course of our country for the next generation. I stand ready to address these challenges, and urge you to lead our nation and this Congress in working together to find commonsense solutions to our mounting fiscal crisis.
Very Truly Yours,
United States Senator
Would you vote to raise the debt ceiling? Let me know here.
On Monday morning, Kansans welcomed U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood to Wichita for a rally hosted by Cessna and sponsored by the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA). I was joined at the event by over 2,000 general aviation workers from Cessna, Bombardier Learjet and Hawker Beechcraft, along with suppliers, union and government officials. Also in attendance were Gov. Sam Brownback and U.S. Congressman Mike Pompeo.
Sec. LaHood recognized the importance of the general aviation industry and the 1.2 million jobs it supports. He has long been an advocate in his capacity for passenger safety and maintenance standards. This was an opportunity for the secretary to see the industry firsthand and meet the workers behind it. Sec. LaHood told the crowd that they were the “epicenter” of aviation jobs and manufacturing and said he will encourage President Obama to visit Wichita next year.
Wichita is known as the “air capital of the world” because of its long history of leadership in aviation manufacturing. In Kansas, the general aviation industry contributes more than $7 billion to our state’s economy each year. General aviation is also our largest industry and had over $2 billion in exports last year. I was impressed by the turnout for this event and enjoyed being with Kansans who work hard to make this a successful industry. Click here to see photos from the event.
After saying U.S. participation in the effort to create and enforce a no-fly zone in Libya would last days not weeks, the U.S. military remains heavily involved in Libya ten days after military action began. The men and women of our armed forces are performing the job asked of them with the highest level of competence and professionalism. Yet, too many questions about the goals of military action and the plan for achieving them exist and have not been answered.
President Obama is scheduled to address the nation tonight and I hope he will answer questions about our mission in Libya. Chief among these questions is what are our goals for success? And, why is military action in Libya necessary when the United States has not intervened to protect other peaceful demonstrators from violence perpetuated by dangerous and ruthless leaders – as was the case in Iran in 2009?
While these questions remain unanswered, I am concerned that this combat operation stretches our armed forces, still involved in other missions, too thin. With instability growing in the Middle East, Americans deserve a clear and robust assessment of the scope and purpose of our military operation in Libya, and how our goals will be achieved.
Whether it is at the grocery store, at church on Sunday, or at the gas station as I travel the state, one of the things I enjoy most when I’m back home are the conversations I have with Kansans. That is why I’m happy to introduce “Coffee with Kansans,” one way I can continue these conversation while I am working on your behalf in Washington. Every Wednesday when the Senate is in session I look forward to visiting with Kansans who are in Washington, D.C. The first scheduled coffee is Wednesday, April 6th, from 9:30 – 10:00 a.m. in Senate Russell Office Building Room B-34A. Click here to watch a video and learn more. If you plan to attend, please click here to RSVP. I look forward to seeing you in Washington on your next visit.
I continued my listening tour this week and hosted four town halls in the following counties: Harvey, Saline, McPherson and Sherman. Dozens of residents came to share their concerns on a wide variety of topics including military operations in Libya, gas prices, the new health care law, our rapidly increasing national debt, government regulations and the status of the federal budget. I share these concerns – but my most pressing concern is our mounting national debt. I strongly believe members of both parties must work together to address this enormous fiscal challenge. Just last week, I joined 63 of my colleagues in the Senate in calling on President Obama to become more involved in budget talks on Capitol Hill. Only when we work together, will we achieve lasting progress on this critical issue.
Thanks to the many individuals who helped arrange the details of my visits: President Tim Hodge and Board Member Chad Lehman of the Newton Kiwanis Club in Harvey County; Senior Vice President Don Weiser of the Salina Chamber of Commerce and staff members of the Bicentennial Center in Saline County; County Appraiser Dianna Carter of McPherson County; and Vice President Mike Hamilton of Western State Bank in Sherman County. Click here to view photos from my stops.
I will be continuing my statewide listening tour over the next several months. Please find more information about an upcoming town hall meeting in Topeka below. If you're nearby, I encourage you to stop by to share your thoughts.
Monday, April 4, 2011
Doniphan County Listening Tour Stop
Location: Pioneer Center
Address: 137 W. Walnut Street, Troy, KS
Time: 9:30 -10:30 a.m.
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Shawnee County Listening Tour Stop (hosted by Topeka Chamber of Commerce)
Location: Holiday Inn
Address: 605 SW Fairlawn, Topeka, KS
Time: 12:00 -1:00 p.m.
This week we had several visitors in the Washington, D.C., office from across the state.
Kansas Society for Clinical Laboratory Science
University of Kansas
University of Kansas School of Law Medical-Legal Partnership
Close Up Foundation
Association of Community Cancer Centers
Kansas Association for the Medically Underserved
Alliance for Natural Health USA
American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
South Central Kansas Economic Development District
National Telecommunications Cooperative Association
South Central Kansas Economic Development District
Coleman Industrial Construction
Medical-Legal Partnership Fellow
National Youth Leadership Conference
National Association of Postal Supervisors
National League of Postmasters
Many Kansans stopped by this week for a tour of the United States Capitol including Darrel Hamlin of Ellis; Kaitlyn Paul of Salina; Matt Fuchs of Park City; Alex Delimont of Kansas City; Gustavo Reyes of Garden City; Gary and Judy Pence of Topeka; Kevin and Shari Gates of Pratt; Brett and Tella Whitaker of Hays; Aaron, Ama and Desha Thomas of Derby; Greg and Karen Perkins of Wichita; Joe, Mary Ann and Margaret Grubiak of Wichita; Thomas, Jolene, Jenna and Betsy Jo Snell of Ellinwood; Caleb Jones and Abram Mertz; Stephen Chapes of Manhattan; David, Holly, Kyle and Andrea Schneider of Tribune; Chris, Marieka, Chandler and Sarah Ford of Liberal; and Rick, Susan, Zachary, Emily, Allison and Madeline Baden of Pittsburg. Kansans from Lawrence included Paul Breer and Sarah Stark; Kimberly Grinnel and Thomas Alexander; and Robert, Shaohong, Benjamin and Natalie Carrol. Visiting from Olathe were Brent, Pamela, Gavin and Ethan Cox; and John Fuchs. Visiting us in the office were also Linda, Jeff and Scott Hoover of Olathe.
It is an honor to serve you in Washington, D.C. Please let me know how I can be of assistance. To send me an email, click here. You can also click here to contact me through one of my Kansas offices or my Washington, D.C., office.
Very truly yours,
- Letter to President Obama - 3.22.11 - (326.7 KBs)
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