- September 12, 2009
U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan laid out the numbers Saturday, March 5, at a town hall meeting at Longboat Key Town Hall.
The United States is $14.3 trillion in debt, Buchanan, R-Longboat Key, told the approximately 100 people in attendance, and it will run a $1.5 trillion deficit for this year alone. For every $1 the United States spends, it must borrow 40 cents, which Buchanan said shows the need for a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
“A balanced budget amendment is my goal, every day, every opportunity,” Buchanan said.
Buchanan spent most of the meeting, which stretched just more than an hour, taking questions from audience members.
Longboat Key resident Andrew Aitken asked Buchanan what he would do to bring American corporations back to U.S. soil. Buchanan said that he is now a member of the House Committee on Ways & Means and is looking for ways to make tax codes more competitive.
In response to questions about offshore drilling, Buchanan received applause when he discussed the importance of reducing the United States’ dependency on foreign oil.
Longboat Key resident Elizabeth Cupo told Buchanan about the difficulty self-employed individuals face in finding affordable health care. Buchanan said that he voted against President Barack Obama’s health-care reform bill, in part because it was unaffordable.
“Obamacare does nothing to slow down the costs of health care,” Buchanan said. “What does it do? It gives 30 million to 50 million people access to highly subsidized health care that we can’t afford.”
Dr. Jim Whitman, a Longboat Key physician, told Buchanan that he treated a patient who was transferred to the Manatee County Jail from New York. The patient, who was on Medicaid, was prescribed medications that totaled $2,000 per month; Whitman found “viable, effective, well-tolerated” medications that cost $4 each per month at Walmart.
“There should be a reasonable formulary for Medicaid,” Whitman said. “The savings that would be caused for this would be just unimaginable.”
Buchanan told the audience the difficulty that comes with making cuts. Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security and defense spending make up 85% of the federal budget, he said, and chipping away only at the remaining 15% would result in going further into debt.
“Everyone’s for a lot of cuts as long as you don’t cut anything that affects them,” Buchanan said.
Buchanan told attendees that creating jobs will allow the government to make cuts and save money.
“When we get people back to work, that will cut the deficit,” he said.
Contact Robin Hartill at [email protected]