Sen. Jerry Moran didn't waste any time Tuesday letting a Wichita audience know where he stood on increasing the nation's debt limit.
"I have no intention of raising the debt ceiling," he said.
He said the debt limit has been raised 13 times — 11 of those in the past decade.
"If that's being responsible," Moran said, "I want no part of it."
After the town hall meeting, which was sponsored by the Wichita Metro Area Chamber of Commerce at the Hyatt Regency, Moran slightly qualified his statement.
"I'm not voting to raise the debt ceiling unless there are significant reductions in spending, unless there's something put in place — a constitutional amendment or a statutory spending cap — that doesn't allow us to get back in the position we're in today," Moran said.
He wouldn't put a dollar amount on those spending reductions, but he said, "It's real. It cannot be a gimmick."
Kansas' first-term Republican senator campaigned heavily last year on cutting federal spending. That stance also put him in line with the House's vote Tuesday to reject bumping up the limit by $2.4 trillion.
Moran's comments came hours before the House voted Tuesday night to reject the debt limit increase 318-97.
He called the vote "largely symbolic."
"It will demonstrate Republicans and many Democrats are unwilling to vote to raise the debt ceiling without something to come along with it," he said.
The Democrat-controlled Senate will likely vote on the debt limit later this summer.
Democratic House leaders said Republicans were playing politics with the nation's creditworthiness.
The nation hit its debt limit of $14.3 trillion in May. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner has said Congress must raise the limit by Aug. 2 or the United States could default on its debts and trigger a massive financial crisis.
Moran disagreed with that prediction, saying the United States has enough tax revenue coming in to pay its debts for a while.
But he said that it's wrong to keep "kicking the can" down the road for future leaders to resolve and that spending needs to be addressed now.
Moran told the audience of 250 at the Hyatt that everything but national security should be on the table when it comes to cuts.
He said 42 percent of the money spent in Washington is borrowed money.
Moran acknowledged it was no fun talking about spending cuts, but added: "We're not immune to the economic forces of the world. If we don't resolve it ourselves, at some point, those who lend us money will not lend. Interest rates will rise."
He also criticized President Obama for what he said was failure to provide leadership on the debt ceiling.
"He's going on as if life is the same, as if we have more money," Moran said.
In his first town-hall meeting in Sedgwick County since being elected to the Senate last year, Moran largely dealt with economic issues.
He said he wasn't coming at the debt-limit issue strictly on a partisan basis.
"When the GOP was in control (under President Bush)," he said, "we spent too much money."
As for cutting Social Security spending, he said he supports incrementally increasing the age at which citizens would be eligible to draw a check.
"I'm interested in saving Social Security and Medicare," he said. "I'm not about dismantling them."
But he said the reality is that if problems with those two entitlements aren't addressed, they could be lost.
"There are specific things we can do to strengthen them," he said.
Moran drew applause for being critical of the federal government dictating mandates to schools and for saying the country "shouldn't be looking for a third war" in Libya.
On education, Moran said the federal government makes "stupid decisions" with such mandates as No Child Left Behind and should not be involved with the schools.
"Let local boards of education, parents and teachers make decisions," he said.
On the military, Moran said: "I disagree with President Obama in regard to Libya. We ought to be working our way out of Iraq and Afghanistan and not looking for a third war."
While he said it was important for the United States to defend itself against terrorists, he said the country has overextended militarily.
"We're too many places in the world," Moran said. "We are too many places where we've been too long — Korea, Europe."
He said nations that can afford it should be made to carry a larger share of the burden of defense costs.
Today, he will hold a Butler County town hall meeting at 12:30 p.m. at the El Dorado Civic Center, 201 E. Central Ave.