Moran seeks amendment to balance U.S. budget

Rep. Jerry Moran called for a constitutional amendment to balance the federal budget during a town-hall meeting Wednesday.

"I haven't seen the discipline (in Congress) to do it without one," Moran, R-Hays, told a crowd of a little more than 100 at Wichita's Kansas Masonic Home.

He was joined at the meeting by Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., who has endorsed Moran in the Senate race over Rep. Todd Tiahrt, R-Goddard.

"I know both and like both a lot," Coburn said after the meeting. "I think (Moran) will be the stronger ally for me in terms of controlling spending."

Both delivered strong messages that addressed limiting federal government and fiscal conservatism.

"One of the things missing in our leadership is not adhering to the 10th amendment," Moran said, referring to the amendment that deals with reserving powers for the states.

Moran noted that he was one of only 17 members of the House to vote against every bailout or stimulus package in both the Bush and Obama administrations. He said he was the only member of the Kansas congressional delegation to do so.

"I was voting against what I think was big government and overspending when it was the Republicans doing it," he said.

Health care also was a front-burner issue — not surprising considering where the meeting was held.

Coburn, one of two physicians in the Senate, called the health care bill that was passed by Congress "medical malpractice."

He said the new law didn't do enough to reduce wasteful expenses of health care. He said 33 percent — $850 billion — of the money spent annually on health care in this country "doesn't help anybody to get well and doesn't keep them from getting sick."

Coburn said $250 billion of that $850 billion is spent on tests that are only ordered by doctors to protect them from a "tort system that has run amok."

During the question-and-answer session, Moran was asked about his association with a Washington, D.C., townhouse — known as the C Street House — that has become a controversial topic.

The Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington filed a complaint last week, asking the House and Senate ethics committees to look into whether the rent Moran and at least eight other members of Congress paid to live at the home was below market value.

If it was, the group said, the discount could be considered an illegal gift. Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., and Coburn were also named in the complaint.

Moran said he has lived in the house for several years but occupies only "one room with a little tiny bed, a closet and a shared bathroom."

The watchdog group said the house's residents pay $950 per month for accommodations that should cost between $4,400 and $7,500.

"I don't know how you figure what fair-market value is," Moran said after the meeting."... I don't know where they come up with those numbers."

A Brownback spokesman said last week that the senator, who is running for governor, no longer lives in the house.