Moore stresses moderate message
Dennis Moore is starting his fifth race for Congress with messages familiar to past campaigns, including his same basic approach to government.
Despite Democratic hopes of capturing the U.S. House this year, the Lenexa Democrat who has defied the odds to win four terms to Congress in the decidedly Republican 3rd District said he was not interested in being part of a national campaign. During a visit Tuesday to the Eudora News/De Soto Explorer office, Moore said he would continue to stress what he said was common-sense solutions to problems rather than promote partisanship.
"I'm a member of the Center Aisle Caucus," he said of a group of congressmen from both parties who look for moderate solutions. "Often the best public policy is not at either extreme but in the middle."
With Congress in recess, Moore is touring the 3rd District preaching his centralist message and pitching reforms to several domestic policy issues.
For Moore, the list starts with budget restraint and Social Security.
The country's national debt is now $8.4 trillion and growing at about $300 billion a year. That has made interest on the national debt the federal government's third largest line item at $400 billion in fiscal year 2006, Moore said. He characterized the growing national debt as a mortgage on our children and grandchildren.
With that reality, Moore said it was not the time for large tax cuts such as the permanent repeal of the estate tax. He would support targeted tax cuts, and he proposed estate tax reform that would forgive $7 million of the tax, Moore said. That would protect family farms and small businesses but not "Bill Gates and Warren Buffett," he said.
As for Social Security, Moore said he still hoped for passage of his Social Security Truth in Budgeting Act introduced in 2005. The bill would put an end to the current practice of borrowing Social Security funds to supplement government spending or tax cuts, and set Social Security taxes aside for their intended use, the congressman said. It would also require federal budgets acknowledge the use of the Social Security Trust Fund, he said.
In another familiar stance, Moore continued to call for passage of a bill he introduced with Rep. Jim Ramstad, R-Minn., which would fully fund the 2001 No Child Left Behind Act. He voted for President George Bush's education reform without realizing Congress and the administration would forego their responsibility to deliver promised funds, he said.
His proposal will allow state boards of education and local school boards the option of modifying, suspending or deferring the legislation's accountability requirements until the federal government meets its funding obligations, Moore said.
Moore said he could offer no solution to Iraq, but said he didn't support setting a public date for the withdrawal of American forces. That could put Americans at risk and encourage carnage as the date approached, he said.
But Moore said the country couldn't continue the open-ended commitment to prop up the government in Iraq. He called for the president to appoint someone of the stature of Colin Powell or Gen. Richard Myers to inform Iraqi leaders that they had to find solutions to the divisions and violence in that country and to negotiate a timetable for the withdrawal of American forces.
The domestic items on his list date to at least 2005 and some date back five years, while the situation in Iraq continues to drain American tax dollars and manpower, Moore acknowledged.
In contrast to that was the direct difference he could make in helping constituents negotiate the red tape of federal government, Moore said.
"It's the most frustrating and exciting job I ever had," he said.
Moore said he did have successes that sustain him. After learning that the Department of Defense would fly military personnel home from Iraq but not pay for airline fare from their point of return to hometowns, he introduced a resolution asking that the military pick up the expense.
Moore said he talked to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld about his concern at a White House Christmas party, passing him a note explaining the issue. Congress never took action on his measure, but the next Department of Defense budget relieved military personnel of the burden, he said.
Similar advocacy to increase the death gratuity to those who lost a family member in Iraq from the Vietnam era from $12,000 to $100,000 spurred the Department of Defense to include that in an Iraq supplementary budget, backdating the gratuity to the beginning of hostilities, Moore said.
"People have told me that won't bring anybody back," he said. "I know that, but it helps families facing tough economic times."