Lummis, Barrasso address WyFB members
Casper — Congresswoman Cynthia Lummis and U.S. Senator John Barrasso were in Casper Nov. 13 to speak to members of the Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation gathering for their organization’s 90th annual meeting.
Lummis, Wyoming’s lone voice in the U.S House of Representatives, is a member of the Agriculture, Budget and Natural Resources committees. Unprecedented spending by Congress was a common thread through the numerous topics she discussed at the recent gathering.
“America has been the leader in financial integrity and stability worldwide,” said Lummis. “Almost every central bank in the world has their currency and then backs it with dollars. It is the dollar that provides it with full faith and credit.”
Lummis emphasized, “To the extent we erode the value of the U.S. dollar we’re not only hurting ourselves, we’re hurting our allies around the world and we hurt the global economy. It is imperative that we have change in Congress. It’s imperative that we get a handle on these extraordinary debts and deficits we’re running up.”
As a member of the Budget Committee Lummis said she’s twice had the opportunity to meet with Chairman of the Federal Reserve Ben Bernanke. “….once in public and once in private,” described Lummis, “at which point he asked us to come up with a plan to reduce our deficit and our debt. We’re not only frightening ourselves and our constituents in America, we are frightening the Chinese who are buying our debt and are worried we’ll be paying it back with dollars that are worth less than the dollars they purchased our debt with initially.”
Lummis has stated on numerous occasions that the Obama administration has accumulated more debt than the presidencies spanning from George Washington to George W. Bush. On Nov. 13 she told Wyoming Farm Bureau members that the situation hasn’t improved in the 10 months she’s been working in D.C. She called upon them to help elect fiscal conservatives to all offices from the local level to the national level.
“The Democrats’ res-ponse to the fact that they inherited a deficit from the Republicans is to make it twice as bad in five years and three times as bad in 10 years, which is not an adult way to handle a difficult situation,” said Lummis.
“I find the numbers of conservatives in the House do not allow us the opportunity to influence the content of legislation,” she explained. “There are only 177 Republicans in the House. There are 258 Democrats in the House and it only takes 218 to pass a bill. They have a 40-vote cushion and that’s how Nancy Pelosi can get some of this unconscionable spending passed, spending that will affect our children and grandchildren every bit or more than it affects us.”
Lummis provided multiple examples of the spending spree she said has been underway in Congress. Most recently was the U.S. House of Representatives’ passage of healthcare legislation that’s over 2,000 pages in length. “This bill costs about $1.2 trillion dollars over 10 years,” said Lummis. “About a half trillion will come from Medicare cuts.” Lummis said the legislation also puts forth between $700 billion and $800 billion in tax increases. Contrary to the message from President Obama that the increases won’t affect those who make less than $250,000 annually, Lummis said those who use medical devices such as oxygen tanks, wheelchairs or diabetic equipment for example, will see increased taxes on those purchases. “I’m assuming some of the people who use those devices don’t make $250,000 a year,” she said.
Lummis said, “The Senate is going to take a much more careful look at this subject. I hope they scrap this bill and start over.”
The House, said Lummis, dumped a “lousy” cap and trade bill on the Senate earlier this year and has now followed up with a “lousy” healthcare bill. Of cap and trade, which would create tax structure around carbon emissions, Lummis said, “The House bill constituted the largest tax increase ever.”
Members of the agriculture industry, said Lummis, would be among those hardest hit by a cap and trade system. “About 64 percent of the cost of producing a bushel of wheat in Wyoming is energy costs,” she said. “The burden of cap and trade falls disproportionately on ag producers.” Wyoming Farm Bureau members, who presented Lummis and Barrasso with ball caps reading, “Don’t cap our future” and signed by their board of directors, agreed.
“Whoever came up with this idea, ‘don’t cap our future,’ that’s a brilliant way to put it,” said Barrasso, who focused his presentation on cap and trade. “It really handcuffs us economically. It just says we’re going to raise energy prices for farmers, ranchers, raise the cost of the food because energy prices ripple through a community. We’re talking about an $1,800 increase in the cost of energy on every family in America.” While other countries continue business as usual, Barrasso said a change in American emissions would have no net effect on a global scale.
“It’s foolish, from an economic standpoint for us to do this to our economy,” said Barrasso. “Should we do better?” he asked. “We want to make American energy as clean as we can as fast as we can without raising prices on American families. The president talks about green jobs, but we need all the jobs, we need the red, white and blue jobs we have here. We need renewable energy, we need the wind, we need the solar, but we need the oil, the gas, the uranium, we need the coal. Coal is still the most affordable, reliable, secure and affordable and available source of energy anywhere in the world.”
While there are steps to be taken, Barrasso said it shouldn’t have a crippling effect on the economy. “…not at a time when we have 10.2 percent unemployment and the numbers are continuing to rise in spite of all this spending,” he emphasized.
Healthcare and cap and trade legislation are the latest pieces of costly legislation to pass the House during Lummis’ short tenure in the nation’s capitol. “The first bill we passed affecting our debt and deficits when I took office in January was to extend the second half of TART monies for release even though we had no accounting for the first $350 billion. I voted against that $350 billion.”
She continued, “Then we passed a $787 billion stimulus package, $1.1 trillion if you count interest. I voted against that.”
Lummis said, “Then we passed a $410 billion addition to the 09 budget that contained 8500 earmarks. I voted against that.”
“Then,” said Lummis, “we passed a $3.6 trillion 2010 budget, the largest budget in the history of the world.”
Jennifer Womack is staff writer for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. She can be reached at Jennifer@wylr.net.