“Usually it takes something to make people mad … to get them involved in the political process,” commented Jerry Moran as he introduced himself today.
With a smile he said he had some concerns as to why the crowd was so large at his Town Hall event held at the Tomahawk Ridge Community Center in Overland Park. “I am intimidated to be here. I don’t know how this meeting is going to go … I think it’s important for elected officials to stand in front of folks of Kansas … and take complaints and suggestions, marching orders and instructions.”
Moran, a Republican Congressman from Western Kansas who is running for the U.S. Senate in 2010, was meeting an audience of citizens in a way Congressman Dennis Moore avoids in Johnson County. Moore often meets citizens one-on-one in small groups in very controlled environments, such as the March community hours Moore held but were shortened by protesters.
Moran explained part of his background before taking questions:
- Moran is a 7-term U.S. Congressman from the “Big First” in Western Kansas
- Moran commutes weekly to Washington, DC to stay connected with Kansas and to not be affected by Washington, DC.
- Moran has conducted 859 Town Hall Meetings in First District. This meeting in Johnson County with at least 150 is his largest crowd — larger than some small towns in Western Kansas.
Quotes from Moran’s other introductory remarks:
- “I think, particularly now, America faces tremendous challenges that I am much more likely to trust the American people — to trust Kansans to have the right answers — than I am to trust our elected officials.” [applause]
- “I think we face tremendous challenges from my perspective Washington, DC is not headed in the correct direction. In fact, I think they’re exacerbating the problems that we’ll soon experience. And perhaps even more importantly than that … particularly the spending and borrowing that in ongoing in our nation’s capital means our children and grandchildren will have a lower standard of living than we have had …”
- “I have voted against every stimulus package and every bailout that has come before Congress”
- “We have spent money we don’t have and there is a consequence to doing that.”
- “My common sense tells me that we simply can’t spend your way — in this case, borrow your way — back into prosperity.”
- Analogy about No Child Left Behind: “If you want fat cattle, feed them, don’t weigh them.”
Questions and Answers [many abbreviated]
Q. What do you believe is the role of the Federal Government? What do you believe the role of the Federal Government ought to be?
A. Those involved in the Federal Government ought to have an overriding love for “freedom.” “We do best when Americans make decisions for themselves.” Government should not be all encompassing, managing people’s lives. Government should not be “reducing our freedoms.”
The primary function of the Federal Government is to defend our country, defending our borders, and make it safe to give people opportunity to pursue dreams.
Q. … the government is out of control. … We had the Tea Parties April 15. What I don’t understand, and maybe you can enlighten us, is why Republicans are not focused on platforms to help win elections in 2010?
A. “I’m here as a member of Congress. I happen to be a Republican. I’m not here necessarily as a spokesman for the Republican Party, … but Republicans lack as spokesman. There is no one in … Congress that stands up. In addition … the national media has very little interest in hearing that message. ” Moran said he thought J.C Watts from Oklahoma was the last person that was effective in that role.
“Republicans on fiscal issues are beginning ‘to get it’”. The one area we should agree on is fiscal responsibility.
“Republicans are seeing the opportunity for a majority is based on their ability to stand for fiscal responsibility. Slow getting there. Way late. Not very articulate. Not a great spokesman.”
“I think the Tea Party movement actually created an opportunity for Republican elected officials to have a better platform.”
Q. There was a report issued a couple of weeks ago … “Powering America’s Defense: Energy and Risks to National Security.” They are making the point that the greatest threat to our national and economic security is climate change. “They are suggesting a need for a strong reduction in CO2, a rapid switch to wind and solar power … we have a great solution here in Kansas … “
… [shouts from the audience: Where's the question? What's your question?"]
A. Moran says he will not support the bill coming out of the Waxman committee. [Most in audience applauded.]
I agree with you that we have a lot of resources in Kansas that ought to be developed and our failure to do so has consequences to our military stance and foreign affairs. I am a supporter of expanding our domestic production of energy.
[Questioner left shortly afterward.]
Q. We’ve had a bill in committee for 11 years about Lyme disease in the Senate. Our representatives sign their names but do not put pressure on the committee chair to get it out of committee. What might you do for that?
A. Moran suggested they meet afterward for him to obtain additional information from her.
There is a role for the Federal Government in health research.
Q. My understanding is that you are a cosponsor of HR 25 in the House — the Fair Tax bill. I’d like to thank you for that [applause]. What is the likelihood of that getting out of committee?
A. I have been a cosponsor of the Fair Tax bill for 3 or 4 years. I was the first Kansans to support it … but I was a bit slow in getting there.
“Most Americans ought to be able to file a tax return without seeking professional help.”
“Nobody ever believes their taxes were cut. … Politicians keep talking about cutting taxes and it doesn’t connect with average folks.” We need a simpler and easier approach.
Change will happen incrementally.
Q. Why does it cost $700 to get my taxes prepared?
A. Point made.
Q. You talked earlier about our importing 60% of our oil from the Middle East. … If oil is produced from non-conventional sources, carbon emitted must be less than conventional sources. Wouldn’t it make more sense to import oil from politically stable countries like Canada instead of the Middle East?
A. Moran pointed out that EPA made a regulation about the emissions, not Congress directly.
EPA requires a calculation on how something in the U.S. might affected the rain forests in Brazil.
Moran explained how difficult getting rid of such regulations would be. He also pointed out the need to get unneeded old laws off the books.
Q. I’m a scientist. I’ve reviewed all four ICCC reports. They’ve back off a lot of the fear mongering. When you study this, I think you come to the conclusion there’s no such thing as global warming. [applause]. The politics is likely being driven by monetary interests.
A. Who do you believe? There are so many sources of information. Who is representing which political agenda? What scientist is telling the truth?
When it comes to environmental regulations, we want sound science and common sense.
There is a big problem if the U.S. agrees to climate change and global warming policies and other countries don’t. We don’t change the climate … , and we’ve just set the stage for our economy to be unable to complete. [applause]
The success will likely come in the Senate instead of the House … because it takes 60 votes if any Senator opposes because of Senate rules.
Q. Why do you want to become our Senator?
A. Moran explained his background and the opportunities that led him to run for Congress. Things that go on in DC still matter, and good people still need to be willing to serve. 1 of 100 is a better setting than 1 of 435.
Q. Could you comment on the Fairness Doctrine?
A. The last thing we need is for some government agency prescribe rules to radio stations about who can be on the air. We have plenty of options now. The consequence would be not more information, but less freedom.
Q. The Constitution allows the President to make treaties with approval of the Senate. What if the President made a treaty with the United Nations that put our Constitution at risk and us subject to the UN Charter? What could you do as Senator to make sure our Constitution and rights are not circumvented in any way by the United Nations?
A. Protecting sovereignty of our country is a primary role of government. The last thing we want to do is to turn over decisions about Americans to the U.N.
I have voted to have the U.S. withdraw from the U.N. [applause by many]. The U.N. has lost its mission. We should be insistent with the U.N. about the way they spend our money.
Q. How many independent thinkers do we have in Congress today percentage-wise? I’ve never been politically active. Look how people are voting. Many young people are voting and can’t say why they vote the way they do.
What are we doing for small businesses?
A. Republicans have a real problem. The demographics of elections related to women, related to Hispanics, related to young people … we have real challenge in figuring out how we appeal to a broad enough sector of America. Part of it is standing for something. We’ve got to figure out how to connect with everyday people.
If we want a vibrant small business community, we’ve got to hold down the tax bill, and the regulatory environment. We need fewer things the government does that increase the cost of business.
Q. States rights are not the providence of the federal government. Incessantly our federal government has overstepped the 10th Amendment. Someone needs to stand up and say this is not the providence of the federal government.
A. The 10th amendment is often ignored unfortunately. We need a court that understands the 10th amendment.
The mandates that the federal government places on cities, counties, school districts cost a huge amounts of money.
Q. [Last question] My concern is that we have a media that is 92% is swayed to the left. How are you as a Republican going to stand up and be heard when you have a media that is muffling or skewing anything you’re saying? I want to know what you’re going to do to stand up with some guts and conviction against people who ruthless in destroying America?
A. There’s no reason to spend a lot of time trying to get the national media to like us. I don’t think it’s going to happen.
I don’t have a great answer about how to change this except people like you and people like me need to work hard everyday to convey to people we’re about trying to accomplish good for America.
[There was such a demand for more questions, Moran continued taking questions past the scheduled ending time.]
Q. The last time we talked, I had to press you to admit that you hadn’t read the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) bill. That agreement gives them 10 years head start on us. You kept changing the subject. You should have told the President that you work me, I don’t work for you.
The 10th Amendment says if the Constitution doesn’t spell something out it belongs to the states, or we the people. Mary Pilcher Cook in Kansas has introduced a resolution to support the 10th Amendment. Are you doing anything to support her?
… Read the Bills Act. [Audience demands "question."]
A. I am a sponsor of the Read the Bill act. I don’t remember our conversation. I have never been to the White House to talk to any president about CAFTA.
Q. Are there more employees in the Dept. of Agriculture than farmers in the United States?
A. I am very interested in agriculture, but I tell you I voted against the last farm bill. Moran explained the farm bill had too much to do with paperwork, bureaucracy and we’re not getting the benefits we deserve. Only 12.5% has to do with payments to farmers and 74% of the spending was for nutrition and food stamp programs.
Q. You’re a co-sponsor of the “Audit the Fed” bill. What are your general thoughts about the Federal Reserve and monetary policy?
A. “Audit the Fed” bill is a Ron Paul bill that has broad support. I do not understand how things can happen at the fed without some input from elected representation. …
… I’ve wandered from you question, I’m sorry. The path we’re going down is who gets benefits from government is political, and is not market based. Unions and car manufacturers have clout at the moment. Who’s going to take care of small business? It’s all about politics.
I try to explain to people: I’m for a free market system that allows business to succeed — sometimes fail — but in the process creates wealth and puts people to work. [applause]
We do not know what the fed is doing.
Q. Are you currently a member of the Congressional Vision Caucus, and if so, would you stay an active member in the Senate?
A. Yes, and yes.
Q. I’m terribly confused between you and your opponent for the U.S. Senate. You’ve had some votes I totally disagree with. “You seem like a very fine young man — no, I’m not his mother.” As a voter, we have such a critical situation in this country. … I’m getting where I don’t trust any of you. Tell me why I should support you.
A. I have not drunk the Kool-Aid. I put Kansas first. I am a Conservative over being a Republican. In the 13 years I’ve been in Congress there are only 7 or 8 weekends of not coming home to Kansas. That doesn’t make me better, but it at least makes me different from other members of Congress. That is a unique difference. [Applause]
The four members of Congress from Kansas must work together to help Kansas. I’m reluctant to get into this fight if we were to get mad at each other. He expressed the desire to stay friends with Todd Tiahrt as best he could and work together during their remaining time in the House.
Moran will face Todd Tiahrt, U.S. Congressman from Wichita, in the Aug. 2010 Republican primary for U.S. Senator from Kansas replacing Sam Brownback, who will be running for Governor.
- Protesters shorten Congressman Dennis Moore’s community office hours, Kansas Meadowlark, March 14, 2009.