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Wicker: U.S. debt 'Troubling,' 'astonishing'

 

JoAnn Ferguson and Denise Good, both members of the American Business Women's Association, speak with U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., Wednesday afternoon at the Columbus Country Club. Wicker was the guest speaker for this week's Columbus Kiwanis Club luncheon.

JoAnn Ferguson and Denise Good, both members of the American Business Women's Association, speak with U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., Wednesday afternoon at the Columbus Country Club. Wicker was the guest speaker for this week's Columbus Kiwanis Club luncheon.
Photo by: Carmen K. Sisson

 

 

Carmen K. Sisson

 

 

Members of the Columbus Kiwanis Club received a surprise when they showed up for the group''s weekly meeting at the Columbus Country Club: U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., gave them a pop quiz on their knowledge of federal spending and the national debt.  

 

Wicker touched on a number of hot-button topics, from health care to Social Security and Medicare, saying while he doesn''t support eliminating such programs, he does believe the government needs to rein in spending.  

 

A big supporter of the so-called "Ryan Budget," proposed by Budget Committee Chairman and U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., in May and defeated by a Senate roll call 57-40, Wicker said he not only voted for the plan but "greatly respects" Ryan.  

 

The controversial plan called for a repeal of President Barack Obama''s Affordable Care Act, revamping the Medicare and Medicaid systems, closing corporate tax loopholes, and overhauling portions of the tax code.  

 

Wicker asserted that although Ryan''s plan was "said to be cruel," -- a television ad by The Agenda Project depicted a man pushing an elderly woman over a cliff and asked "Is America Beautiful Without Medicare?" -- it would have brought the federal budget into solvency by 2050.  

 

According to Wicker''s quiz, the federal government will spend the largest chunk of money on health care and Social Security in 2012, borrowing approximately 43 cents for every dollar spent.  

 

By the end of 2012, the nation''s total federal debt is expected to equal 100 percent of the gross domestic product, which is the sum of all goods and services within a country and an indicator of standard of living and economic health.  

 

Some economists, notably University of Maryland professor Carmen Reinhart and Harvard professor Ken Rogoff, both formerly of the International Monetary Fund, say a high debt to GDP ratio bodes poorly for a country''s ability to rebound economically.  

 

The figures are "troubling and astonishing," Wicker said, -- a statement with which many in the audience agreed, including JoAnn Ferguson, who attended the luncheon with colleagues from the American Business Women''s Association.  

 

Ferguson, who is 65 and on Medicare, said hearing the statistics was "frightening," but it helped her better understand some of the cuts being proposed.  

 

"You have to change with time," Ferguson said. "I can see why we have to make the changes. It''s necessary." 

 

But for people like Columbus Mayor Robert Smith, hearing about Obama''s freeze on the federal government''s discretionary spending, also known as "pork barrel spending," was a glum harbinger of hard times ahead, especially as the city and county governments wrangle budgets for the upcoming fiscal year.  

 

"We''ve been used to earmarks," Smith said. "It''s really hurting the city and county. We''re at a standstill." 

 

Wicker sponsored 223 earmarks totaling $415.4 million in last year''s Senate spending bill, according to Taxpayers for Common Sense, an independent non-partisan governmental watchdog group. But ultimately, Wicker joined forces with fellow Republican senators to symbolically ban the practice as part of a show of support for federal fiscal belt-tightening.  

 

He told Kiwanians he still thinks bringing home the bacon is good though, adding that it''s not just for "bridges to nowhere," alluding to Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin''s 2005 backing of $223 million in earmarks to build a bridge from Ketchikan, Alaska to Gravina Island, which is home to roughly 50 people. The issue became a controversial topic in the 2008 U.S. presidential campaign.  

 

As for a proposed tax increase by President Obama, Wicker was blunt, saying, "A tax increase in this fragile economy would be a job killer." 

 

 

Carmen K. Sisson is the former news editor at The Dispatch.

 

 

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Reader Comments

Article Comment hope commented at 8/19/2011 10:06:00 AM:

gave them a pop quiz on their knowledge of federal spending and national debt.
Under the Bush and Republican administration, we don't need a quiz on our knowledge of either. Most of us have lived with it for years and know firsthand how it effects us and seems to be getting worse. He says he doesn't support eliminating healthcare, social security, or medicare, but he supports the Ryan bill, which over a period of time will do just that. That has been the Republicans agenda for years.
He's going to get rid of the corporate tax loopholes. The only way he will do that is being forced to by the Democrats. He's for the corporations, not the people, because he is a Republican. If the Republicans keep getting their way, instead of the United States of America, it will be the United Corporations of America.
His philosphy is the same as Scott Walker, Rick Scott, John Kasic who were elected in 2010 and most of the people in their respective states are sick of them.
Senator Wicker, your time could better spent trying to come up with other ways of creating jobs other than cutting taxes for the wealthy.
@JoAnn Ferguson--=---You have to change with time. I can see why we have to make changes. It's necessary.
We're not going to like the changes he has in mind and they won't be necessary.

 

Article Comment bravesfan commented at 8/19/2011 11:34:00 AM:

Hope.... Tell me where it makes sense that I go to work everyday and pay more taxes than I can afford while my neighbor stays home and draws disability and government assistance and he was mowing and weedeating his yard this morning when I left for work? If left up to te democrats, not only will he keep on drawing govt assistance, you all we give him a cost of living raise. I haven't had a COLR in five years. Yet I have to go to work and he sits on his butt? Neither party is worth a crap, but democrats do not promote an ambition to work, they promote a sense of don't worry the govt will keep you going. We got your checks coming. The African American community has for decades been democratic supporters but even they are getting tired of working all the time while their neighbors sit on their butt. Republicans have their issues and they are not the answer to the problem , but at Lear they don't promote a welfare state.

 

Article Comment tuttie commented at 8/19/2011 2:06:00 PM:

now when geprge bush leaves office all republicans see how bad the country is in. we have been in bad shape for a while long before this new president. stop the nonsense, hatred, and passin the bulk. this country need honesty. if all the so called religious people practice true faith this would be the right thing to do to fix this nation for the kids. people when your kids are grown and know better they will see through this fake blame game and hold you accountable.

 

Article Comment bravesfan commented at 8/19/2011 10:36:00 PM:

I know someone who gets a check for herself and each of her kids gets a check. She gets govt assistance to pay for daycare and then gets a tax credit for it when she files. Then to top it off, she got money back on her tax returns. So basically, she lives off taxes, gets tax breaks, and then gets a bonus tax refund fir her trouble. Tell me how this is not wrong people. If you think this I isolated you're kidding yourselves. We are becoming totally and completely dependent on govt and a tail welfare state.
WAKE UP!!

 

Article Comment bravesfan commented at 8/19/2011 10:40:00 PM:

Government assistance programs need a complete overhaul!!!

 

Article Comment smart girl commented at 8/19/2011 11:26:00 PM:

bravesfan....you need to work a little harder. it'll keep you occupied and insure that i continue to get my check! SUCKER!!!!!!

 

Article Comment hope commented at 8/20/2011 11:22:00 AM:

@bravesfan-------------you have to pay more taxes than you can afford because the Doctors rip off medicare and medicaid, the hospitals rip off medicare and medicaid, the insurance companies rip off medicare and medicaid, the drug companies and drug stores rip off medicare and medicaid, even the household name Walgreen over charged the gov. last year to the tune of $700 million by charging name brand prices for generic. Probably nobody rips the gov. off more than the military contractors. Even the politicians rip our gov. off. And would not want to leave out healthcare providers. Not all of the above do but some do. Sometimes they are caught and sometimes they are not.

 

Article Comment roscoe p. coltrain commented at 8/21/2011 5:56:00 AM:

There you go cows!! Spend time whining about the small points while the crooks make off with your future. "My neighbor is getting something for free while I have to work...blah blah blah".

Yeah, and have you ever looked at how much was given away overseas? Or how lined the pockets of the Federal boys are? Ever looked at Congressional perks? Benefits? Wicker is just another hog with his face in the slop.

But "there are hard times ahead" and "tighten your belts" and "vote for me you stupid cow you".

Because YOU'LL never learn.

 

Article Comment homer commented at 8/23/2011 7:40:00 AM:

And how long has this gentleman been in Washington?????? It has only now become astonishing. Shame on you. Washington is the problem!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

Article Comment ml2010 commented at 8/23/2011 12:47:00 PM:

How do people still believe the lie that their taxes have gone up? Almost everyone's paycheck under Obama has gone up because of the cut in payroll taxes which, by the way, is the only taxes republicans are for raising. Even if you make 10 million dollars a year your taxes have not gone up one penny. This is the first president in history that so many lies have been made up about and you wonder why people think that it has to do with his skin color. Why lie only about this president?

 

Article Comment roscoe p. coltrain commented at 8/23/2011 4:51:00 PM:

ml: he isn't the only one. Did you forget about Dubya Bush and the White House order to listen in on anyone's phone calls contrary to the Constitution?

They are all pigs, just some have better ham than others.

 

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