Barr continues move to fringe

U.S. Rep. Andy Barr of Lexington represents Kentucky's 6th District.
U.S. Rep. Andy Barr of Lexington represents Kentucky's 6th District.

In recent weeks, as the government shutdown loomed and then became reality, Andy Barr's 6th District constituents have had plenty to say about it.

Researchers at the University of Kentucky have pointed out that stopping, or cutting, the federal investment in their work is shortsighted, at best.

Advocates for poor children who depend upon food stamps have warned about the dire consequences of condemning them to hunger and malnutrition.

Employees at the Federal Detention Center in Lexington have pointed out that they stayed on the job, not knowing if they would ever be paid, to keep us all safe.

Hundreds of people have emailed or called Barr, posted comments on social media, written letters to this and other news outlets and demonstrated in front of his Lexington office, to express their frustration with the Tea Party-inspired showdown.

Thousands have signed up for health insurance coverage since Kentucky's medical exchange went online Oct. 1, despite Barr's predictions they'd beg him to protect them from the dreaded Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare.

But on Wednesday night when the House of Representatives was due to vote on the compromise worked out in the Senate to extend the debt ceiling and re-open government, Barr apparently didn't listen to those constituents.

Instead, by his own account, he thought of his own daughters, not the hungry children in his district, and listened to his own campaign footage. After this seance with himself, Barr voted against the compromise, saying, "This is what my constituents asked me to do." Barr insists the vote was made without any political considerations.

"This is not about politics. This is about the next generation," he said, apparently working on the script for Mr. Barr Goes to Washington.

It was a vote with no short-term downside. Barr knew the measure would pass so neither the country nor his district would suffer the consequences, and he could keep faith with his Tea Party backers.

Long term, we'll see. Sixth District voters have a long history of electing moderates of both parties.

They'll have the opportunity soon enough to tell Barr if they elected him to play a game of chicken with our economy and our government.