Fitzpatrick blasts budget at town hall meeting

U.S. Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (R-8th dist.) meets with con­stitu­ents fol­low­ing a town hall meet­ing on June 9 at Com­munity Col­lege of Phil­adelphia’s North­east Re­gion­al Cen­ter.

U.S. Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick said ba­bies born in 2011 are vic­tims of “in­tergen­er­a­tion­al theft,” blam­ing some fed­er­al law­makers for fail­ing to rein in the budget de­fi­cit.

“We have to stop spend­ing money we don’t have,” he said.

Fitzpatrick (R-8th dist.) held a town hall meet­ing last week at Com­munity Col­lege of Phil­adelphia’s North­east Re­gion­al Cen­ter, at 12901 Town­send Road.

Some town hall meet­ings across the coun­try have been com­bat­ive, but the June 9 gath­er­ing was civil.

Fitzpatrick praised CCP for its af­ford­ab­il­ity and con­grat­u­lated the col­lege on its re­cent ex­pan­sion. He at­ten­ded the April 20 rib­bon-cut­ting ce­re­mony that marked a doub­ling in the size of the build­ing and a com­mit­ment to en­ergy ef­fi­ciency.

A former Bucks County com­mis­sion­er, Fitzpatrick was elec­ted in 2004, but he lost two years later to Demo­crat Patrick Murphy. The Re­pub­lic­an won back his seat in a re­match with Murphy last year.

The 8th Con­gres­sion­al Dis­trict in­cludes all of Bucks County, a small por­tion of east­ern Mont­gomery County and the Far North­east.

In Fitzpatrick’s opin­ion, the budget de­fi­cit and debt helped Re­pub­lic­ans gain con­trol of the House of Rep­res­ent­at­ives in 2010.

This year’s pro­jec­ted de­fi­cit is $1.4 tril­lion. The na­tion’s over­all debt has reached the leg­al lim­it of $14.3 tril­lion.

Pres­id­ent Barack Obama and many Demo­crats want to in­crease the debt ceil­ing to $16.8 tril­lion, cit­ing Aug. 2 as the date that the De­part­ment of the Treas­ury will be un­able to bor­row any more money.

The House voted on a ceil­ing-in­crease meas­ure on May 31. The bill was re­jec­ted, 318-97, with 82 Demo­crats vot­ing against it and an­oth­er sev­en vot­ing “present.” Even Minor­ity Lead­er Nancy Pelosi and Minor­ity Whip Steny Hoy­er were op­posed.

Fitzpatrick scoffed at the “Armaged­don pre­dic­tions” made by some that the stock mar­ket would tumble if the debt ceil­ing were not raised in last month’s vote.

Many Re­pub­lic­ans would ac­cept an in­crease in the debt ceil­ing only if it was ac­com­pan­ied by sig­ni­fic­ant spend­ing cuts.

“We need to get our spend­ing un­der con­trol,” Fitzpatrick said.

The con­gress­man be­lieves that the debt and the in­terest paid on it threaten fund­ing for en­ergy, edu­ca­tion and na­tion­al de­fense pro­grams.

Fur­ther­more, Ja­pan is Amer­ica’s second-biggest lender, be­hind China, at about $908 bil­lion. If Ja­pan, which suffered a massive earth­quake in March, asked for re­pay­ment to help re­build its coun­try, the United States would be in more eco­nom­ic trouble.

Fitzpatrick in­dic­ated that many people tell him that our na­tion would be on more sound fin­an­cial foot­ing if Con­gress elim­in­ated ear­marks and for­eign aid, but those ac­count for just 2.11 per­cent of the budget, he said.

A more sig­ni­fic­ant dent in the de­fi­cit, he said, would be ac­com­plished by Medi­care re­form, which is the key com­pon­ent of House Re­pub­lic­ans’ so-called “Path to Prosper­ity.”

Rep. Paul Ry­an, a Wis­con­sin Re­pub­lic­an who chairs the House Budget Com­mit­tee, is driv­ing the is­sue.

Ry­an claims that Medi­care will go bank­rupt by 2020. While Medi­care will not change for be­ne­fi­ciar­ies or any­one age 55 and older, he pro­poses a vouch­er-like sys­tem that would en­able fu­ture seni­or cit­izens to buy private med­ic­al in­sur­ance.

Demo­crats in­sist that the pro­pos­al would force seni­ors to pay more, but Re­pub­lic­ans be­lieve com­pet­i­tion would re­duce costs, much like it has done for Medi­care Part D, the pre­scrip­tion drug be­ne­fit.

“We need to make some re­forms,” said Fitzpatrick, who will turn 48 later this month.

Amer­ic­ans are liv­ing longer, and their med­ic­al bills are rising.

“Health-care costs are go­ing through the roof,” Fitzpatrick said.

The fail­ure to in­clude tort re­form in the Pa­tient Pro­tec­tion and Af­ford­able Care Act — signed by Pres­id­ent Barack Obama in March 2010 — was a “missed op­por­tun­ity,” in Fitzpatrick’s view.

Too many doc­tors prac­tice “de­fens­ive medi­cine,” he be­lieves, be­cause of a fear of be­ing sued by pa­tients or their fam­il­ies.

A colon can­cer sur­viv­or, the law­maker re­calls hav­ing what he thought were du­plic­ate tests per­formed dur­ing his treat­ment.

As an aside and in re­sponse to a wo­man’s state­ment that her re­l­at­ive was giv­en tests he did not want, Fitzpatrick said he would like to see a na­tion­al de­bate on the is­sue of liv­ing wills. In his work as a law­yer, he has pre­pared such doc­u­ments for people.

Fitzpatrick’s over­all goal is to be part of an ef­fort to cre­ate an eco­nom­ic at­mo­sphere that will lead to job cre­ation.

Most people in the crowd re­acted fa­vor­ably to Fitzpatrick’s slide present­a­tion, though a wo­man wear­ing a Planned Par­ent­hood shirt chal­lenged him on many state­ments and even rushed up to the over­head pro­ject­or to point out on a slide that tax hikes can help lower the budget de­fi­cit.

A man in the crowd said he wants to see law­makers in­crease the tax on long-term cap­it­al gains from 15 per­cent to 20 per­cent, a state­ment met with de­ri­sion.

“You can send more money in,” an­oth­er man told him.

Fitzpatrick op­poses tax hikes. He poin­ted out that rev­en­ues have gone up when pres­id­ents such as John F. Kennedy and Ron­ald Re­agan have lowered, not in­creased, tax rates. ••

Re­port­er Tom War­ing can be reached at 215-354-3034 or twar­

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