Murkowski: Hard times ahead

• Congress needs to be pursuing answers to the toughest questions but instead focuses on election year
By Naomi Klouda
Homer Tribune

HOMER TRIBUNE/Naomi Klouda - Sen. Lisa Murkowski (LEFT) speaks with Rex Murphy, (RIGHT) on halibut allocation decisions made the past weekend. Homer Chamber Executive Director Monte Davis (CENTER) listens.

HOMER TRIBUNE/Naomi Klouda - Sen. Lisa Murkowski (LEFT) speaks with Rex Murphy, (RIGHT) on halibut allocation decisions made the past weekend. Homer Chamber Executive Director Monte Davis (CENTER) listens.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski illustrates America’s mounting debt by telling school agers and adults to picture each and everyone of them owing $50,000.
“You have that much in your pockets?” she asks.
It’s difficult to bend one’s mind around $14 trillion dollars, what that looks like, she told Homer audiences during her visit here last week.
“When you break a debt down, it’s pretty amazing. What’s happening in Congress – we’re talking some tough stuff,” Murkowski told those gathered for the Homer Chamber of Commerce meeting Wednesday during her Homer visit.
Energy costs feed into the cycle, as do the high cost of medical services. By 2021, 58 percent of all federal spending is mandated for covering Medicare and Medicaid, she said.
“Think about what that does to the discretionary side of the budget. I wish I could say don’t worry, we’re going to solve all the problems,” Murkowski told the standing room only audience.
Yet, it is also an election year. Members of Congress are grandstanding for political posture without pressing for real solutions, she said. “They are proposing legislation that has no chance of passage, but they are putting it out there for political purposes, with no intention for its passage,” Murkowski said. An amendment on contraception was put on a Department of Transportation bill. Murkowski voted against it, though she favors family planning. She pointed to this as an example.
“I think you want to know we’re lowering the costs and increasing the access to health care. But right now it is about elections. And I say that with a lot of frustrations. Right now I am not convinced we are making headway. I don’t think Congress is doing you any favors right now.”
Murkowski was leading up to a warning she brings to Alaska communities about inevitable cuts to come in federal spending. About one-third of all jobs in Alaska are tied to federal spending, with programs through the Indian Health Service, the military, the post offices, ocean, wildlife and parks agencies.
“We claim a fair amount of federal dollars and because of that, we will perhaps feel more acutely the results.”
On KBBI’s Wednesday morning Coffee Table, Murkowski spoke passionately about the toll the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are taking on everyone. Particularly revealing is that troops are being pushed to unbearable extents in multiple tours of duty. A sergeant who snapped, and killed innocent women and children in an Afghan compound a few weeks ago was one such indicator, she said.
While advocating for scaling back in military spending and decrying the “war worn” weariness of Americans and the troops, Murkowski has advocated against cuts at Fort Eielson in Fairbanks.
She reconciles this by saying the strategic defenses necessary for America are switching to the northern theatre, away from the European one, where eye needs to be kept on North Korea and China.
“The cost reductions in the military need to be focused in moving military money from individual installations but not from strategic positions,” Murkowski said. “Alaska and Hawaii hold the strategic position to allow us to be focused on all the hot spots.”
Given to the new mission, it makes no sense to weaken Alaska’s position to respond, she said.
The cuts that need to occur in health care costs should come from a menu of adjustments in an entirely new system’s model for costs. Murkowski said there’s no way to pay down the debt without true reform in this expensive portion of government spending. Even if the U.S. Supreme Court throws out part or all of the Affordable Health Care Act, “we in Congress are not done. We need to lower costs.”
As Murkowski thinks about Alaska places while in Washington DC, she admires Homer’s movement.
“There are towns that I visit that make me feel good because the communities are healthy, energetic, enterprising communities. You should be proud that Homer falls into that category.”she said. “The food sustainability with resources and basic technology with high tunnels and opportunities that have to do with feeding yourselves and your families. That is really good strong fundamental stuff.”

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Posted by on Apr 11th, 2012 and filed under Headline News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

2 Responses for “Murkowski: Hard times ahead”

  1. got hypocrisy? says:

    Why is Lisa complaining to us about the debt, complaining to us about the toll the wars are taking?

    She is the one that has been holding the purse strings, she is the one in the Senate making the decisions to send our troops to war for corporate profit.

    Now she wants to scale down the wars in Europe and start building up troops for China and North Korea.

    Do you want to know why we are in so much debt Lisa?

    The U.S. Department of Defense, with a total of 3.2 million staff members, tops the list of the world’s largest employers in a list put together by the BBC and compiled from global company and government information.

    US Military is where the vast majority of tax dollars are going. Giving tax cuts during a time of war has caused our debt to skyrocket. Time to stop the blame and face facts.
    End the wars, end the tax cuts, problem solved.

  2. callerinthevoid says:

    Oh Lisa, what is you whining all about? There are solutions but they do not fit the Republican agenda you are supporting. Remove the unfair tax cuts the super rich and the rich are getting. Remove the tremendous perks members of the Congress and Senate (you) are spoiled with so they will be feeling the “hard times ahead” too. Cut militäry spending and do not support war.

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