Last Thursday morning Congressman Tim Huelskamp, the current Republican representative for the First Congressional District in Kansas, spoke to a room of approximately 40 county residents about a number of issues including his assertion that Social Security should be overhauled and the military could sustain cuts and still protect America.

Last Thursday morning Congressman Tim Huelskamp, the current Republican representative for the First Congressional District in Kansas, spoke to a room of approximately 40 county residents about a number of issues including his assertion that Social Security should be overhauled and the military could sustain cuts and still protect America. 

During the nearly hour-and-a-half meeting, attended by county and city officials, business owners and residents, Huelskamp made a brief presentation and answered questions from attendees.

“I am one of the few Republicans in Washington that says ‘we can cut the military’ and still meet our needs and protect America,” said Huelskamp. “Yesterday I was reading a newspaper article, we found out that U.S. taxpayers are paying for a resort, right next to Disneyworld that we all own. It’s called ‘Shades of Green.’ It’s a 586-room resort with a golf course, luscious waterfalls and grey gardens. If you are a contractor with the Department of Defense, you can go get a hotel room there. That’s one example where there is waste in the military.”

Huelskamp was addressing a question poised by Mullinville resident M.T. Liggett, who referenced Teddy Roosevelt’s infamous “speak softly and carry a big stick” quote before questioning the proposed cuts.

“We’re going to cut the military?” Liggett said later. “You don’t dare cut the military.”

Huelskamp stuck by his belief that Congress could find cuts in the military and has been one of a small group of republican representatives that have taken up the issue. Historically republicans have used their voting record to paint opposing democrats as weak on national security.

According to, a political voting database, Huelskamp voted against House Bill HR-1363, a 2011 Department of Defense funding bill. Huelskamp voted to support amendment H-16 in Feb 2011 that would reduce funds for research and development for the Navy and Air Force by $225 million each and increase Defense funding by $450 million. Last December he opposed the 2012 Department of Defense appropriations bill.

“There is waste in the military. Also the idea that we can police the world, I don’t think we can afford to do that anymore. I voted to cut the military but I don’t think it’s going to get cut this year,” he conceded.

Huelskamp also touched on his assertion that wholesale changes need to be made to the Social Security system.

Cuts in entitlement programs have gained traction as of late, with high profile Republicans such as Mitt Romney who, at a recent Conservative Political Action Conference at the beginning of February, said he felt raising the retirement age and slowing benefit growth rates were necessary for future sustainability.

“What we see here is a function of our aging society,” said Huelskamp. “Because everyday in America we have 10,000 folks retiring, turning 65. Ten thousand new folks are going on Medicare and social security. There is no money in the social security trust fund. There is an IOU for about 2.5 trillion dollars; there is no money set aside for Medicare. When you pay into social security, they take you check and send it to someone else and then they borrow.”

Brad Estes of BTI, a regional producer of wind turbines, expressed a concern about the extension of the Renewable Energy Investment and Production tax credits, a driving force behind the construction and development of wind turbines.

Huelskamp has said he does not approve of extending the credits, which provide a 2.2 cent tax credit for wind energy production and a 30 percent credit for the cost of development for wind energy.

Estes also voiced concerns that the expanding list of cuts, when combined, could effect job markets in southwestern Kansas.

“I want to know where the balance is when making all of these cuts at one time,” said Estes following the meeting. “This has a particular impact on jobs in our area of Kansas.   In my own assessment and in some of the calculations we’ve done, it’s an incredible impact, a severe impact.”

When asked if he felt Huelskamp addressed his concerns and answered his questions, Estes said that the meeting went “as expected” and that nothing new came from the public forum.

“I’ve been discussing our issues with him for months and we know where he stands.

If you listen to him long enough you can read between the lines. Since I already know his position I am not sure if I got an answer exactly, if they’ve considered how far down the job cuts will go. I’d l love to talk with him more about it and we do. We email and call a lot.”

When asked what effect he thinks cuts in farm subsidies, energy production, social security, Medicare and military will have on the region, Estes said “In my mind it’s immeasurable, but I guess I could only say severe. That’s my own assessment.”

“I like Tim Huelskamp, but he doesn’t stand a chance,” added Mullinville’s Liggett. “He’s overwhelmed by this congress. I think that Tim Huelskamp is one hell of a fine representative; I think he’s representing the people, but I think it is an exercise in futility in Washington.”

Hueslcamp address a number of other issues and here are some selections from the meeting:

On the national debt:

“[I asked the president]‘when does your budget balance?’ They never would quite say but there is a whole idea in Washington that we don’t ever have to balance. The president’s budget that he has proposed doesn’t balance for 75 years. The administration believes it’s not necessary to ever balance the budget.”

On EPA and DOT regulations:

“Often times I hear my other members complain [about regulations]. Whether it’s the EPA wanting to measure livestock emissions and impose a gas tax on cattle. They want to deal with farm dust, that is on ongoing issue. If you are worried about EPA and farm dust, if your worried about the Department of Transportation, and I’ve been a violator for many years, you are not allowed to carry more than 119 gallons of diesel fuel in a tank unless you are certified as a hazmat operator. That’s been a regulation for twenty years, because of a typo in Washington. Well, what do we do about that? It has to do with the budget. Regulations should be answering to elected officials not the other way around.” 

An attendee asked: Do people in Washington hear us? My thought is to vote all of them out and send them all home. We should have term limits. Don’t they hear us? Who are the few that are allowing all of this authority? Throw the bums out.

“I said that last year before I was elected. (laughs) Let me tell you what I’ve experienced, my home is in Kansas. I travel back and forth to Kansas every weekend, unless we work through the weekend, which are not most weekends. Last year I had 33 round trips back to Washington. That is very unusual. Many of my colleagues, they don’t leave town for a month at a time. I don’t know how you know what people are saying unless you are at home. Pray for wisdom for me and all of us. Part of it is, the culture in Washington is broke. You could spend weeks never leaving that congressional complex. You have people going up there, have all of the special interests coming in, you have staff that works for you, there’s media and there is nothing ordinary about it. It’s so easy to lose touch.”