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Rep. Vicky Hartzler (r): town halls in Clinton and Warrensburg (August 10, 2011)

Rep. Vicky Hartzler (r): town hall in Warrensburg, part 1 (August 11, 2011)

Representative Vicky Hartzler (r) at the Community Center in Warrensburg, Missouri on August 10, 2011.

Representative Vicky Hartzler (r) held a series of town halls on Wednesday in the 4th Congressional District. We attended the afternoon town halls in Clinton and Warrensburg. There were dissenting views and push back at both town halls, but the one in Warrensburg was by far the more raucous.

“…We had a balanced budget…”

Revenues, Outlays, Deficits, Surpluses, and Debt Held by the Public, 1970 to 2009, in Billions of Dollars

1998 69.3 [billion dollar surplus]

1999 125.6

2000 236.2

2001 128.2

Yes, we did.

This is the second part of the transcript:

Representative Vicky Hartzler (r): Federal, uh, debt limit, just had a big discussion with that. Fourteen point three trillion dollar debt we have. Uh, here’s the history, you see it’s gone up and up, you know, for a long time. Uh, Congress put a limit on the amount of borrowing the country could do. And then over the years, obviously the more programs that are, uh, approved, the more it costs then eventually you run up to, you gotta go borrow some more money. So that’s what happened just a few weeks ago. And I went to Washington saying that I was not going to support us going further in debt and borrowing more money, uh, raising the debt ceiling unless we could make some permanent real structural changes and reforms and spending cuts that’s going to change this trajectory from going up, up, up to turn it around and start going back down so we can get a balanced budget. [applause]

Voice: Constitution, Fourteenth Amendment, Constitution, Fourteenth Amendment, Section Four says you gotta pay the debt. [crosstalk] You gotta follow the Constitution…

Representative Hartzler:  Here’s a little history of what [crosstalk] happened in April. At Standard and Poor’s, sir, listen, in, in April Standard and Poor’s downgraded the outlook and said we’re gonna have negative and in June Moody’s raised the possibility of downgrading it. Uh, so Congress knew they made it clear to us that unless you guys make some real permanent structural changes we’re gonna downgrade you. And then last week the final version passed and it didn’t go far enough. Standard and Poor’s had said you’ve gotta cut four trillion dollars at least. You need to put some, uh, permanent [crosstalk][inaudible]  in there. We hadn’t done that. Uh…

Voice: What, what, what about increasing taxes?

Voice: You want to pay more taxes?

Voice: Yes, I do.

Voice: Pay more.

Voice: Why do you not increase taxes?

Voice: You want to pay more taxes?

Voice: Yes, I do. [crosstalk] I do.

Voice: Well then do it.

Voice: I do, I do think that people should be taxed [voice: “Okay.”], particularly people who are making a lot more money than middle class. You guys are putting the middle class people [crosstalk] completely out of the [inaudible]. [crosstalk] Thank you.

Representative Hartzler:  When we get to question and answer you’ll get the first question. I’ll answer that [crosstalk]…thank you.  Anyway, it didn’t go far enough and they said that and so, you know, we had a, a downgrade situation. That’s why [crosstalk] I voted no on the final version of it.

Voice: Obama took it that far.

Representative Hartzler:  Let me give you a little history of that. The President came first of all this spring and says, I want you, Congress, to approve raising the debt ceiling clean without any spending cuts, without anything. Overwhelmingly a bipartisan, uh, group in the House, Republicans and Democrats said, no, that’s irresponsible, we can’t just keep kicking the can down the road, borrowing more money from China. So that failed. And then we started to other propositions, and bottom line, the House of Representatives said, we’re not going to raise it unless there’s some spending cuts and some changes. The final version that came up with last week, it was a tough vote, uh, and I appreciate all of you called and write, we had four thousand people called and write your, uh, comments. But, the overwhelming, you know, voice, that I got and my concern is that it didn’t go far enough ’cause it didn’t meet this standard. It didn’t cut four trillion dollars. It only cut seven trillion [sic] dollars next year. We’re borrowing four billion dollars every day. So it’s only gonna cut one and a half days worth of borrowing. You know, it, it’s not what we needed. We needed to do more. We’ve got to do more. So, that’s why I voted no. Uh, it did pass and, uh, like we found out with Standard and Poor’s it reduced the, uh, rate, our credit rating. It wasn’t enough. [crosstalk] But, there is still, there, there is several…

Voice: But the downgrade was based on, they said it was based on the inability of Congress [crosstalk] to deal with the issue.

Representative Hartzler: …there were several concerns. I read the Standard and Poor’s report today and handed out just part of it. Um, but anyway, it was other parts as well. They said it didn’t deal with entitlement reform, it didn’t deal with tax revenues, so it mentioned that, as well as it didn’t have the cut, uh, suspending that it wanted, at least four trillion. So there was at least four reasons in that. Anyway, now we need to do more. The, there’s gonna be this committee formed in the legislation, what [inaudible] called the super committee, whatever, but, it’ll have six House members and six Senate members. It’ll get together and they’re supposed to come up with, uh, cuts by the end of, November twenty-third. Uh, we’ll see what they do, but hopefully they’ll come up with something that’ll be helpful and, uh, so stay tuned on that front.

But, uh, here’s putting it in family terms just to see where we are. I thought, uh, constituent e-mailed me this yesterday and I thought it was helpful as far as our budget. Where we are is like an annual family making fifty-eight thousand seven hundred dollars, uh, but yet spending seventy-five thousand dollars, and having a credit card debt of three hundred twenty-seven thousand dollars. That’s like our current fourteen point three trillion dollar debt. The big cuts that were proposed in this bill last year would equal in this scenario about three thousand dollars. So, the family then would only spend seventy-two thousand dollars next year. So, you can see it’s really, uh, not where we need to be. You and I can’t run our households like this and Washington can’t either anymore. We need to change our ways. [crosstalk]

Voice: Well, if you’ve got four hundred fifty thousand dollar subsidies you can.

Representative Hartzler:  The balanced budget amendment, I believe is the best solution to this. Uh, and one good thing about last week’s proposal, it is gonna require a vote on the balanced budget amendment in Congress. So in the House and the Senate before, uh, December you’re gonna see a vote for the balanced budget amendment. I think this is the best hope to force Washington to live within its means. I don’t know how many of you remember this, I’d forgotten it ’til I got to Washington. But, sixteen years, nineteen ninety-five, Congress came one vote short of passing a balanced budget amendment. They passed with a two thirds in
the House, it passed, went to the Senate and in order to get two thirds they came up one vote short. So [crosstalk] some of my colleagues…

Voice: We had a balanced budget.

Representative Hartzler: …that I’ve gotten to know, there’s not very many of them there that have been there since then, a lot of us are new, but, uh, some of them have been there, just been talking about this the last two weeks saying, just think, if we had gotten that passed we wouldn’t be here today. Forty-nine states have some sort of a balanced budget amendment and it works. It forces politicians to live within their means. And it’s not easy, I know [state] Senator [David] Pearce [r] is here and, uh, but Missouri has a balanced budget amendment. And, uh, so, con, the General Assembly in Missouri can’t spend more money than comes in which forces them to make some tough choices. Uh, it’s not easy, but just like you and I at home, we don’t have enough money coming in we, you know, cut back a little bit. So, it works and, uh, I think it’s what we need in, uh, in Washington. [applause] If you agree then, uh, [inaudible] it’s a real, uh, real opportunity I said I’m already gonna vote for it so in the House you’ve got my vote for it. But if you like it I would encourage you to contact our two senators, uh, Roy Blunt and Claire McCaskill and let your voice know, or if you don’t like it, you know, let your voice know and hopefully we can build support and we get this done because we just can’t keep going down the road like we are at this time. Uh, that just talks about the different versions of balanced budget amendment.

I want to talk to you just briefly about jobs. [laughter] You know, uh, cutting, uh, spending is kind of depressing [crosstalk]…

Voice: Just briefly?

Representative Hartzler: …it need to be done. But the other half is raising revenue. You know, you and I know this. If we’re having a hard time at home, uh, we cut expenses or we pick up a little extra revenue. We get a little second job or we do something. And right now we got nine point two percent unemployment. A lot of places in the Fourth District it’s worse than that. Uh, we all probably know people that are hurting, looking for work, they can’t find it. So we gotta get people working again so they not only feel good about themselves, have, provide for their families, but, we’ll have more tax revenue coming in to our government, too. So, how do you get people working? Well, there’s two schools of thought and we, we may have different views on this. One view is for the government to try to create those jobs by like we did the stimulus package last year that went and borrowed more money from China and then put that to spec, put it out in the economy to specific projects to try, to try to create jobs. Uh, you remember when President Obama pushed that he promised that if Congress passed it we wouldn’t have unemployment more than eight percent. Well, [crosstalk]…

Voice: He never said that.

Representative Hartzler: …you know, uh, it’s gone [crosstalk] twenty-nine…

Voice: He never said that.

Voice: He did say that.

Representative Hartzler: …above, you know, nine percent. And so that hasn’t worked out. So the other theory, uh, idea is to get more private sector jobs. And the way to do that is to talk to small business owners and say, and I have in the Fourth District a lot, say, why aren’t you hiring? What does Washington need to do to help you in your business so you go out and put more people to work. You know what they tell me? Get government off our backs. [applause] Leave us alone. So that’s more what I have been trying to do in the House is to push back on the things that are causing small business owners to not hire workers. One, regulations. There are way too many regulations that are stifling jobs. Here’s a few examples. Uh, EPA is out of control. They’re, they’re trying to regulate our greenhouse gasses, uh, I live out in the country on a gravel road, uh, always have, I, we farm and they’re trying to regulate dust as if it’s a hazardous waste. I mean, like, you can’t do that. Uh, if you go down a gravel road you’re gonna have dust. So that’s hurting jobs. We got, uh, EPA cement regulations, uh, supposedly causing eighty thousand jobs. They’re trying to make fly, uh, fly ash a hazardous material. Well, you know what that’s gonna do for our cement and for our roads and the costs? I mean, that’s ridiculous. This hasn’t been found to be hazardous. And, uh, the moratorium on no drilling is costing thirty-six thousand jobs, at least, in the gulf. So, let’s move those regulations out. What we’ve been doing is passing some bills to try to push back on that. Uh, I cosponsored a bill called the Bulb Act which says basically let Americans use whatever kind of light bulb they want. [applause][crosstalk] [inaudible]…

Voice: How many jobs did that create?

Representative Hartzler: …and also in all our committees we have been having the government bureaucracies come before our committees and asking those hard questions. Why are you doing what you’re doing? Uh, we had EPA administrator before Agriculture Committee, we had the CFTC as they implemented Dodd/Frank bill that is making hard for small banks and our farming communities to give loans to our farmers. And so we’re pushing back on that. So we’re trying to do what we can with regulations.

A few other things we’re doing, uh, we’re, we believe we need to fix the tax code, uh, for everyone. Close loopholes, which we did in the House passed budget. We’ve already been proactive in trying to close those loopholes, but also, uh, for corporations. We have the highest corporate tax rate of any, uh, industrialized country now. And we wonder why companies go overseas, manufacturing companies do. Well, we need to kick them back here. And we need to do that by reducing the regulations, reducing the tax burden so that they’ll create jobs here. So that’s what we’re doing. We’re gonna have question and answer in just a little bit. [crosstalk] Hold that thought.

Voice: It, it’s been twenty minutes. You’ve been twenty minutes, Representative Hartzler.

Representative Hartzler: Well, I keep being interrupted. [laugh] You know, uh [crosstalk]…

Voice: Unruly school child.

Representative Hartzler: All right. We need to pass some trade agreements. That would help with manufacturing, uh [crosstalk] energy production, a way to reduce our gas prices.

Voice: How’s that gonna help us if there’s nothing to trade?

Representative Hartzler: So, there’s some things we’re doing. Bottom line, the deficit crisis didn’t happen overnight. We’re not gonna fix it overnight. But, the point is, we need to start now. We need to make some changes. So, that’s what we’re trying to do.

So, there you go. And we’re gonna, uh, I want to hear your ideas. One time I said I would go here first and then I’m gonna go back there. Thank you for waiting and being patient. I appreciate you guys. Thanks…

Question: I, I have two questions.

Representative Hartzler: Yes.

Question: First of all, what do you think about, what do you think what [crosstalk]…

Voice: Can you stand up and speak up so we can hear?

Representative Hartzler: I’ll, I’ll repeat the question. So that’s okay. [crosstalk][inaudible]

Question: What, what  is the essential function of government that you think? That’s number one. Number two, is that, you know, I grew up in India. I became a citizen in two thousand seven. And I think [applause] being an American is an idea. And it’s an idea that you be kind to your neighbor and you take care of other people. So, what, if you, if we are so afraid of taxing people who are making millions of dollars, and where our poor people, when I go to the Kansas City, work with schools, I see the poor neighborhoods. I don’
t know what, how you fix it unless people are willing to contribute to the other people’s well being.

Representative Hartzler: You have a, a,  [applause] you, you have a pure heart and that, that’s evident in your care for other people and, and what you want to do. and I think we all care about the poor. The question is, what is the best way to help somebody? Is it to give them a fish or is it teach them how to fish? And that’s an old adage. But it holds true. There’s a lot of governments that run more on a socialist type mentality or communist type mentality and they believe you should take money from this person and give it, and everybody be equal and that’s the way to have prosperity. But if you look at those governments you see they’re not prosperous. What you need to do is empower people to fish themselves, to, to, uh, go to the free enterprise system to start their own business, get the government so they don’t tax all their revenue so they can reinvest it and hire people. And that’s how you bring people up. Give them a hand up, you know, not a permanent [crosstalk] handout.

Voice: So you don’t cut Pell Grants, right?

Representative Hartzler: Anyway. [crosstalk] So, that, that’s my philosophy.

Voice: So you don’t cut Pell Grants, right?

Representative Hartzler: And as far as, uh, what I think the, the role of government is it’s in the Constitution. And, uh, so it’s outlined there. But one is to provide for the common defense but it’s do for people what they can’t do for themselves, so I think there’s a role in government in national defense, in, uh, in roads, in infrastructure, you and I can’t go build a road, so there’s some need for taxes and, you know, whether we can tax, uh, the quote rich some more or not, they’re already paying seventy percent of the taxes, maybe we will. [crosstalk] And you know, we’ll…

Voice: And they control forty percent of the wealth.

Representative Hartzler: …we’ll see. But class envy isn’t going to solve the problem either, uh. so, [crosstalk]…

Voice: George Bush tax cuts. [applause]

Representative Hartzler: …anyway. All right, [inaudible] thank you for waiting patiently.

Voice: We, we, we do have high corporate taxes [inaudible] through their deductions.

Representative Hartzler: Yeah.

Voice: When it’s all said and done we’re not the highest, we’re way down the line. [voices: “Hear, hear.” “Yeah.”][applause] GE should have to pay just as much tax at least as I do.

Representative Hartzler: Yeah, I agree. [crosstalk][inaudible] I agree. I, uh, [crosstalk]…

Voice: But who wrote the [inaudible]? The same guy that’s on [crosstalk] the President’s.

Representative Hartzler: I, I, uh, I appreciate your comment. In fact, the last town hall, we have had four today, and I brought that GE thing because I heard that I was aghast. I’m like how can a corporation like that not pay any taxes? And so I had my office look into it and they shared [voices: “Shhh.”] a lot of the loopholes, but, one of ’em is unbelievable.  That if you buy these electric cars they get seventy-five hundred dollars a car, they bought five thousand of them. I mean, it’s, it’s crazy. It’s wrong. And that’s part of the loopholes that I think we need to be closing. So I agree. Yes, sir.

Question: Yes, thank you for coming and thank you for listening. I appreciate that. Um, I guess my question would be and I’ll try to explain why, my question is, uh, not necessarily how are you going to get things done, but will Congress get some things done? Because I didn’t vote for you, I’m not, I agree with some of the things that you’ve said and I don’t agree with some of the others. But, what we watched, I think, what we watched on the debt ceiling debates was an embarrassment. [voices: “Yes!” “Yeah.”][applause]

Voice: We can’t hear him back here.

Question: I said, where are you, hi, I said, what we watched in the debt ceiling debates, was in my opinion, an embarrassment. All of our congressmen and congresswomen and senators were more interested in disagreeing with one another then coming together and finding a solution. And it was, I thought it was disrespectful, for example, for [House Majority Leader] Eric Cantor [R] to just say to the President of the United States, I won’t talk to you anymore. I think that, I think it was dis, I think it was disrespectful and, quite honestly, I have lost so much faith in our representatives in con, in government that I don’t think anybody’s looking out for my interests. [applause] I think they’re making , that all they want to do is make sure that the other side is not successful. [voice: “Yes.”] Quite honestly, if you are successful, quite honestly, if you are successful, whether I agree with the way you did it or not, if you are successful our country is successful and I support you. And we’re nowhere near that anymore. And for us to, we’ve degraded education. I teach fu, future teachers at the university. And it’s hard to convince kids that teaching is a great profession. It’s the greatest profession. But when their, their elected officials stand up on television in front of the press and degrade our teachers and our schools and how could you give them a hand up other than to teach them? Well how do you teach them? How? You fund those schools? It’s just, there are, there is not one answer to anything that we do. There’s not an answer to schools. There’s not an answer to the budget. There’s not an answer to anything else. But somebody there has got to stop and start listening. And there has to be compromise. We’ve got to fix that. But, I’m convinced that it doesn’t, anymore in our Congress that no one is interested in anything other than what the other side doesn’t want. And I think a great example, quite honestly, was the President of the United States came to the Republi, the, to the, the Congress and said, here, we’ll cut four trillion dollars, that’s what you wanted, and I’ll put entitlements on the table as negotiable and all of a sudden the Republicans turned around and said, nah, that’s too much. We need to back off. [voices: “That’s what happened.” “That’s exactly what happened.”]…

The transcript of the town hall will continue in subsequent posts.