BAXTER SPRINGS - U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins, (R-Kan.) was in Baxter Springs for a town hall-style meeting she calls "Congress in Kansas," Thursday afternoon at the Baxter Springs High School auditorium.
Jenkins spent much of the hour long meeting explaining Republican positions on the current economic conditions and what to do about it.
Jenkins noted most of the federal budget - about 60 percent - is taken up by what she called "autopilot spending" or non-discretionary spending on entitlement programs such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
Jenkins told the assembled community members and students the problem is, that while discretionary and defense spending can be cut, it's much more difficult to do so with entitlements.
"No one wants to talk about (entitlement spending)," she said. "Generally anyone who tried got fired and sent home the next election.
"We're having to have those discussions this year. We're flat out of money."
Jenkins noted that entitlement programs and defense spending currently eats about 100 percent of government revenues so discretionary spending - about 20 percent of the federal budget - is all borrowed money.
"Obviously that's unsustainable," she said.
To try to address the situation, Jenkins said Republicans have put forward a plan which balances the budget and eliminates the federal debt by 2050.
"It's not perfect, but it's the only plan on the table that eliminates the debt and balances the budget," she said.
Jenkins said the figures show Medicare is bankrupt within eight years and Social Security within 20.
"What we're proposing is to save the programs," she said.
According to Jenkins the Republican proposal is two fold, first for anyone who is currently under the age of 55 an age adjustment would apply, raising the retirement age by two years. Second would be means testing for receiving the programs. In other words, income and net worth would be taken into account for those preparing to retire.
"I don't think Warren Buffett is waiting for his Social Security check this month," Jenkins said.
Jenkins told the crow the Republican house is also looking at ways to spur the economy and spur job growth.
She said there were several ways to do so, starting with repealing the so-called health care reform, lowering corporate tax rates to be more in line with the rest of the world and getting "regulators off the neck of small business."
"We have the highest corporate tax burden in the world," Jenkins said. "Our companies can no longer compete."
Jenkins noted that American companies are taxed on profits made, not just on American soil, but anywhere in the world, which no other country in the world does.
She also noted the plethora of regulations which have come down in recent years.
"Regulators have lost their common sense," she said, citing as an example the Dodd-Frank financial regulation bill. According to Jenkins, Dodd-Frank does nothing to address abuses at the federally backed mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, while requiring small home town banks to comply with regulations designed for much larger banks.
"It punishes the people who didn't create the problem," she said. "We need to target it to who caused the problem. They're going to put our local banks out of business if they're not careful."
Jenkins was asked by an audience member if she was planning on running for a third term this year. She said she was currently focused on the legislation coming out of Washington D.C. and would look at if she wanted to run again later this year.