U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder has the solution if Congress can’t come to an agreement on spending by the next deadline in about 90 days.
Yoder, a conservative Republican, offered the suggestion at the monthly meeting of the Congressional Forum Friday, Oct. 18, at the Reardon Convention Center. The Kansas City, Kan., Area Chamber of Commerce sponsors the forum.
“All Congress would have to do is let the people in this room work out an agreement,” Yoder said. “This group has Republicans and Democrats and liberals and conservatives. You could send out for beer and pizza and chain the doors. You would come up with a solution.”
The congressman, a 37-year-old Johnson County lawyer who has represented the area since 2011, was being facetious. His comments represented the deep frustration that he faces as Congress wrestles with long-term fiscal issues but comes up with only short-term solutions.
Yoder said he voted against the continuing resolution that extended the federal debt limit until early next year because the national debt is the most serious issue before American people. He said that debt was about $14.5 trillion in 2011 and is now about $17 trillion. In 10 years, that amount could increase to $24 trillion.
“It is not right to pass that debt on to our kids and grandkids,” Yoder said.
Yoder was quick to admit that the American people lost during the recent haggle over spending. He said one positive aspect of this dispute was that he met with U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II, a liberal Democrat from Kansas City, Mo., to explore the ways Congress could resolve differences and also help the Greater Kansas City area.
Yoder said he believes the solution to the budget problem is slowing the discretionary spending (about one-third of the budget) as opposed to such mandatory spending items such as Medicare and Social Security. He said he is concerned about excessive regulations that slow the growth of the private-sector economy.
One factor that has affected the budget debate is the 24-hour electronic news cycle and social media, Yoder said. He said certain members of Congress will make radical statements just to get media attention and turn these stunts into fund-raising events.
One of the members of the Kansas Congressional delegation who voted for the recent budget extension was U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran. It is important to note that he is the only one not up for re-election this year.
One of the stories that came out of this recent budget disagreement was legend about partisan differences during the 1970s between President Gerald Ford and Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill of Massachusetts. From 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. the president and speaker would fight like cats and dogs. However, at about 6 p.m., the speaker would go to the White House, meet with the president and resolve differences over glasses of bourbon. But those days are gone.
However, maybe there is reason for hope. When the Boss Lady and I last visited Washington, D.C., nearly 10 years ago, we listened to U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, a moderate Republican from Maine who told of how she built non-threatening coalitions to reach compromise on important issues.
Fast-forward to a few days ago. It was Collins who played a key role in the debt-funding compromise. She voted for the continuing resolution.
I am disappointed that Yoder voted against the resolution. He said he is opposed to increasing the debt—and that is understandable. But defaulting on the federal debt is not the solution.
I would hope that Yoder continues his dialogues with Cleaver. That sets an excellent example that others in Congress should follow.
Murrel Bland is the former editor of The Wyandotte West and The Piper Press. He is the executive director of Business West.