When it comes to trimming the national debt, U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers says: "My people are willing do their part, as long as it's a fair, even-handed sacrifice that everybody else is going through."
That sounds like an honorable approach from a congressman who represents a poor district that's deeply dependent on federal aid.
Except Rogers also says he opposes any increases in tax rates.
So, the wealthiest Americans, those who disproportionately benefited from the Bush tax cuts, would not share in the sacrifice, after all. That's not fair or even-handed.
Roger's contradiction is one that his fellow Republicans will have to reconcile if they are serious about balancing the federal budget.
(We should note that until a Democrat was in the White House, there was no sign that balancing the budget was a priority for Rogers, who earned the title "Prince of Pork" while voting with a Republican president and Congress to slash taxes and put two wars and a Medicare prescription drug benefit on the U.S. credit card.)
In an interview in Somerset this week with Herald-Leader reporter Bill Estep, Rogers repeated the Republican mantra: "The problem we have is not a lack of taxes. The problem we have is too much spending."
Yet Rogers also said there isn't much more discretionary spending to cut and keep the government functioning to the public's satisfaction.
Rogers' sound bites are tripping over reality.
Without bringing in more revenue from taxes, the only way to balance the budget is to break long-standing promises to the elderly, poor, sick and young; scrimp on national security, and forgo the kinds of investments in infrastructure and education that helped make this country the world's leader.
Remember the U.S. was running a surplus in 2001 before the Bush tax cuts became the single biggest reason the government has to borrow massively to pay its bills.
There's even a group called Patriotic Millionaires for Fiscal Responsibility urging Congress to raise taxes on incomes over $1 million for the good of the country. Would Rogers really rather take it out of the hides of working-class college students and sick poor people?
Rogers did say he's eager to close tax loopholes for corporations, thereby bringing in new revenues that could be used to cut tax rates on working people and businesses.
He was also eager to vote for Speaker John Boehner's "grand bargain" which combined massive spending cuts with some revenue increases. Rogers blamed President Barack Obama for killing the chances of a "grand bargain" by demanding more revenue. But really the Tea Party wing of the Republican Party had just as much, or more, to do with killing it.
Rogers, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, is a smart lawmaker who knows the federal government is not the enemy of his 5th District constituents.
In downgrading the U.S. credit rating, one of the factors cited by Standard & Poors was the refusal of most Republicans in Congress to even consider raising revenues.
Surely Rogers can hear the contradictions in what he's saying — and find the voice to help free his party from its ideological "no tax" prison.