U.S. Rep. Ben Chandler recently defended his vote in favor of President Barack Obama's stimulus package and argued that Washington should keep spending more of the taxpayers' money.
With skyrocketing deficits and a national debt approaching $14 trillion, I could not disagree more with the congressman's approach, which is bankrupting our country and inhibiting economic recovery.
This is the defining difference between me and my opponent in the 2012 congressional election. And it is why I sent Chandler a letter over a month ago proposing 16 live, in-person debates in the 16 counties of the 6th Congressional District. I still have not received a response.
Holding a debate in each county of the district would allow the voters to hear the candidates' views on the critical issues facing our nation, and it would highlight the important difference between Chandler and me on the issue of government spending and debt.
The massive stimulus bill supported by Chandler cost the American taxpayers $862 billion, and well over $1 trillion including debt service payments. Yet no serious person can claim that the stimulus has worked.
In February 2009, the president's economic advisers warned that if Congress did not pass the stimulus bill, unemployment would rise above 8 percent.
A year and a half after passage of the legislation, almost 4 million more Americans have lost their jobs, the unemployment rate persists at about 9 percent, and the deficit is set to hit a record $1.6 trillion.
Economic growth slowed to just 2.4 percent last quarter, and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke described the long-term economic outlook to be "unusually uncertain."
To be sure, these are tough economic times. And Congress should be focused like a laser on getting our economy moving again.
But instead of exercising fiscal discipline, Chandler followed his vote for the stimulus with votes for Obama's bloated $3.5 trillion budget and then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi's proposal to increase the debt ceiling by a staggering $2 trillion.
Now, he is joining Obama and Pelosi in pushing for yet another round of spending — this time, a $26 billion bailout of the states that does absolutely nothing to create private-sector jobs. In defense of this spending spree, Chandler told the Herald-Leader that if "you pull money out of the economy now, the economy will lose jobs."
But the problem is not that we have a shortage of spending. The problem is that we have a surplus of government.
In fact, everything this government is doing is preventing economic recovery.
The deficit spending, the government's takeover of our health care sector, the Environmental Protection Agency's overregulation of our coal industry, the prospect of a cap-and-trade energy tax, the looming expiration of the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts, card-check legislation that would eliminate secret-ballot protection in union organizing elections, and financial reform that will cripple community banks and deprive entrepreneurs of badly needed credit — all of this is creating massive uncertainty in the private economy.
My campaign will focus on an alternative model for economic recovery: less government and more freedom for the American people. Instead of leaving mountains of debt to future generations of Americans, our government should live within its means. The best way to get our economy moving again is to get the government out of the way.
Voters in the 6th District deserve to hear the candidates debate these important issues. Let's debate the issues, and let the people decide.