Congressman Joe Barton met with residents of Waxahachie for a town hall meeting in Waxahachie council chambers Thursday, Aug. 30.

Barton discussed the need for a balanced budget and the need to reduce spending in Defense, Medicare and Social Security by taking a “family feud” survey of the gathered citizens.

He asked the audience what three programs had the highest price tags and how much of the budget those three accounted for.

“He said 3.7 trillion, I actually think it’s 3.6 trillion,” Barton said, responding to a man’s guess at the total. “But I don’t that’s far enough off to argue with you. That’s close enough.”

He also recounted his record of supporting a balanced budget, telling how he submitted a bill for a balanced budget within his first five minutes of becoming a congressman.

“Just this last year we took a couple of votes on the balanced budget and both times it passed the House,” he said. “But it didn’t pass the Senate.”

Toward the end of the town hall meeting, the audience got heated over the discussion of student loans and the lack of jobs for young college graduates.

“There’s no jobs for the young people let alone all of older adults,” one woman said. “My daughter is at Global High, and I’m worried about her getting in the right field so she can get a job.”

Barton said that Congress could look at establishing a policy to help create jobs for young people, but cutting spending and putting the economy on the right track would create jobs.

Another question asked was about bipartisanship and why politicians couldn’t agree to resolve major issues.

“They come from a completely different world view,” Barton said. “The people you interact with are your coworkers, live in the same city and state and generally have the same perspective on things. “If Nancy Pelosi (minority leader of the House) were here she would probably say the deficit isn’t even an issue.”

He said he could count only one time when he and Pelosi actually agreed on an issue and passed a bill granting political asylum to Chinese college students.

Another citizen questioned Barton about Social Security and why it had never been cut before.

“Back when Social Security was established the minimum age was 65 and the life expectancy was 60. They had a pretty good thing going there,” he joked with the audience. “There was more money going into the trust fund than out, until now. There’s only about five years left of cash flow from that trust fund before Social Security is running on a complete deficit.”

Barton’s answer lead to a question about the trust fund as he explained that instead of having a “social security bank” bonds were sold and the money was spent.

Several members of the audience scoffed, and Barton explained that the bonds could be cashed for 100 percent of their value at any time. The citizens didn’t agree with his view on the matter, saying that if the bonds were cashed, the money would just add to the deficit.

The audience also touched briefly on earmarks after a man asked if Congress still allowed them. Barton answered no and proceeded to explain an earmark.

“It says in the ball ‘you shall pay x amount to so and so,’ but we’ve done away with earmarks. Now we have to petition the government to spend money on certain projects,” he said.

Barton then answered a resident’s question about the collapse of the United States economy and about Greece’s bankruptcy.

“Greece has bankrupt before and it hurts the European economy, but the U.S. is bigger than the next three largest economies in the world combined. The U.S. dollar is also the international currency of exchange, so if we were to fail – everything would collapse,” Barton said. “We can sit here and be doom and gloom about everything, but we can make a change and it starts at the ballot box.”

He went on to reference the innovation of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, unlocking deposits of natural gas and oil never before available.

“In North Dakota their up to producing half a million barrels of oil a day,” he said. “Pretty soon we could be exporting oil instead of importing it from foreign countries. Our country isn’t broke, we just have a spending problem that needs to be fixed.”

Barton encouraged the audience to support him in his fight to pass a balanced budget bill. He spoke with several of the citizens one on one before leaving city hall.

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