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Cut Spending Now Stops in Cape Girardeau, Missouri

October 24, 2011 J

Group stops in Cape Girardeau to lobby for spending cuts
Sunday, October 16, 2011
By Erin Ragan ~ Southeast Missourian

Former Missouri House Speaker Catherine Hanaway speaks to a crowd about cutting back government spending Friday, October 14, 2011 outside Drury Suites in Cape Girardeau. Hanaway spoke as part of the Cut Spending Now tour, a project of Americans for Prosperity.

Americans for Prosperity advocates ending spending on government programs that overlap, reforming the federal workforce, stopping bailouts and subsidies, ending Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, placing all federal welfare funds into block grants and giving control of the grants to states and giving citizens the control of a personal account into which their Social Security contributions are deposited.

Patrick Werner, state director of the organization who also worked for former U.S. senator Kit Bond, said the purpose of the tour is to let the committee know that the organization and its 1.8 million members are serious about cutting government spending.

“It’s time for Washington to start tightening their belts,” Werner told people gathered outside Drury Suites. “You all do it, we do it, your neighbors, families and friends do it every day. Stop the gimmicks, stop the accounting tricks in Washington, D.C.”

Werner called the organization the premier grassroots organization for getting the word out on cutting government spending. The organization was founded in 2004 with the financial support of billionaire brothers David H. Koch and Charles G. Koch of Koch Industries, one of the world’s largest private companies and which owns oil and fuel refinement and distribution companies as well as chemical, paper and fertilizer manufacturing companies.

Also in attendance were state Rep. Donna Lichtenegger, R-Jackson, and former Missouri House speaker Catherine Hanaway, who both spoke in favor of the organization’s efforts and cutting spending.

Tracy Henke, the organization’s executive vice president and chief operating officer, said Congress is giving a committee of 12 people the responsibility of fixing a financial crisis by reducing spending.

“That just goes to show, quite honestly, that a lot of them, in my opinion, are chicken, and not willing to get involved in the debate and don’t want the pressure, and don’t want the decision-making rights. It’s wrong,” she said.

She gave examples of where she said the government could save money, like with 45,000 unused and unwanted government-owned buildings that cost taxpayers $1.75 billion annually to maintain, she said. The problem, she said, is that the private sector is not economically free enough and cannot rebound and purchase the buildings.

Hanaway echoed Henke’s statements, saying that there are things that could be done now to cut spending, such as high-paying public sector jobs, of which there are too many.

“Sadly, public employees are making twice as much as their counterparts in the private sector,” she said. “That’s just wrong, particularly when every dollar they are paid comes out of the private sector to pay them.”

Lichtenegger said she has been a member of the organization for a long time and that she supports cutting spending at local, state and federal levels.

“This needs to go to the school boards, to the city councils, to the state level and to the federal level,” she said.

Lichtenegger said that she, as well as current House Speaker Steven Tilley, R-Perryville, and other legislators have cut their office budgets, and that all elected officials need to be held accountable for spending.

Rick McQuire, a Cape Girardeau County resident, said the information presented at the event was not anything he hadn’t heard before.

“I was hoping to hear something new,” he said. “I mean, we all are certainly going to have to cut spending. At least the people I know already do. We are all working-class people.”

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