Senate candidate and U.S. Rep. Jerry Moran on Monday criticized Democrats — and his own Republican Party — for spending too freely and expanding the federal government too much.
"This is not a partisan statement when I talk about too much spending and growth of government," Moran said. "In my opinion, Republican majorities in the House, Senate and a Republican president spent much too much money, borrowed too much money and grew the size of government in ways that we can't afford."
Since Democrats took control, "it's gotten exponentially worse," Moran said. "But it's certainly not just a disease of Democrats."
Moran made his remarks to professor Melvin Kahn's political science class at Wichita State University. The congressman from Hays is seeking the Republican nomination for an open Senate seat in a hard-fought race against Rep. Todd Tiahrt, R-Goddard.
To rein in spending, Moran called for reforming the Congressional earmark process. And, he said he would support legislation to make Congress operate more like Kansas state government, with a requirement for a balanced budget and a rule limiting each proposed bill to a single topic.
On earmarks, Moran said he thinks allowing individual members of Congress to insert their own items into spending bills — usually projects for their own districts — encourages runaway spending.
"A member of Congress often ends up voting for a $1.6 billion spending bill because they're worried about their $500,000 project back home," Moran said. "I would start with structural reform."
Moran also renewed his longstanding call for a balanced-budget Constitutional amendment, of the type he had to comply with when he served in the Kansas Legislature.
"We at least in Kansas are forced to make decisions about our priorities," he said. "In Washington, D.C., we just keep adding. You almost never have to cut spending to add spending.... It just gets added to the national debt."
Moran also was critical of Congress' tendency to package unrelated proposed laws into single bills — for example, he cited student loan provisions that were tacked onto the recently approved national health bill.
"One of the problems in Washington is that almost no bill is freestanding," Moran said. It makes it "much more difficult for us to make better decisions."
"You end up with bills that have some things in there you may like and some things you don't like," he added. "And so often, you're trying to make a decision, is the good more than the bad?"
In the Kansas Legislature, bills generally are limited to a single topic, which Moran said gives lawmakers more control over what they vote for or against.
"That would be a great development in Washington if we could limit ourselves to having one subject in one bill," he said.