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Sen. Moran: Congress is dysfunctional

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Monday, August 22, 2011, at 3:45 p.m.
  • Updated Tuesday, August 23, 2011, at 6:20 a.m.

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U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran said Monday that being a member of Congress is embarrassing because it isn’t doing anything.

The first-year senator told about 250 members of the Wichita Downtown Rotary Club during a lunch at Botanica that Congress hasn’t passed a budget in two years, leading to uncertainty for local businesses to plan their own budgets.

“It’s a dysfunctional Congress,” said Moran, a Republican from Hays, who was elected to the Senate last year after serving in the House since 1997.

“A budget is a primary document that a political body ought to be able to adopt. It happens in cities and counties every year across the country, and Congress can’t get its act together to do it.”

Moran said he called for President Obama to summon Congress back into session two weeks ago.

“In my view I shouldn’t be here with you today,” he told his audience. “Congress ought to be working.”

During his talk, Moran touched on themes he has continued to champion, such as a “cut, cap and balance” approach to federal spending.

He proposed growing the economy by starting over with the tax code, changing the regulatory environment for businesses that he says currently “nit-picks” employers, and creating an energy policy that helps develop Kansas’ and other states’ domestic energy resources to reduce dependence on foreign oil.

Moran also took Obama to task for speaking against tax breaks for owners of corporate jets. The comments are a detriment to those who build the jets, he said.

Moran said selling airplanes helps rural communities, not just cities like Wichita where they are manufactured.

On health care, Moran spoke of a bill he introduced allowing states to opt out of the new health care reform act pending a U.S. Supreme Court ruling on the measure. The court could declare unconstitutional the provision of the act that requires Americans to have coverage.

“If it’s declared unconstitutional, I think the health care reform bill begins to unravel,” Moran said.

The country can improve health care, but the focus ought to be on driving down the costs of the care, he said.

He added that he worries about the health insurance exchanges that states are required to establish under the new law. The exchanges are intended to allow people to compare insurance plans and choose one they want.

“If we have another segment of patients whose health care bills are paid for at a rate less than what it costs to provide the service, we’re going to lose health care providers,” he said.

Uncertainty over the future of the health care act continues to hurt small businesses, he said.

“A reason we’re so long in this recession is that no business person can make a decision about what it’s going to look like tomorrow, next year, next week,” he said.

Reach Fred Mann at 316-268-6310 or fmann@wichitaeagle.com.

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