Helena Independent Record - "Bushman Files in Senate Race"
U.S. Senate candidate Kirk Bushman told fellow Republicans Tuesday that he'll be hammering away on "fiscal responsibility," as he attempts to unseat Democrat Max Baucus.
"The first thing that I'd do is to balance the budget by cutting spending," Bushman told the Helena Pachyderm Club, a local Republican group.
If the federal deficit continues to grow, important funding for Montana projects will be in jeopardy in the future, he said.
"Senator Baucus has been in office for 30 years," Bushman said. "He's currently the chair of the Senate Finance Committee. He has failed to use his seniority to guide that committee to address these issues."
Bushman, 41, a designer of industrial facilities and one of three Republicans expected to be in the hunt for Baucus' Senate seat, paid his $1,693 filing fee Tuesday to make his candidacy official.
Anton Pearson, a truck-driver and business owner from St. Regis, and state Rep. Michael Lange of Billings also are running for the GOP nomination to challenge Baucus.
Baucus, 66, is running for a sixth consecutive six-year term in the U.S. Senate.
When asked what federal spending he would cut, Bushman said each U.S. senator and member of Congress has to start by picking something "in his own backyard" that might not be necessary.
For example, he questioned why the federal government should be paying $350,000 to help pay for a new baseball and sports stadium in Billings. He also mentioned Amtrak and the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) as programs that benefit Montana, but could be scrutinized as to whether they deserve federal funding.
The CRP program pays farmers for not growing crops, to keep certain fields as grasslands.
Bushman, who works for a consulting engineering firm in Billings, also said he would support extending the Bush tax cuts in 2010, when they are set to expire.
A spokesman for Baucus said the senator has exercised fiscal responsibility while chairing the Senate Finance Committee, insisting that any new spending proposals be paired up with spending cuts or revenue to pay for them.
"He tends to vote for less spending than the president asks for," said Barrett Kaiser. "He is fiscally responsible. But he's not going to start whacking proposals that Montanans care about. We need to be smart, and cutting Amtrak and cutting agriculture is not smart."
Bushman also dinged Baucus for not taking the lead on reforming Medicare and Social Security, saying that the longer Congress waits to bolster or revise these important programs, the harder it will be to preserve them.
Bushman didn't have any specific proposals to change either program, but said he's willing to talk about the options. He noted that in 2005, when President Bush proposed revising Social Security to create "personal accounts" for some beneficiaries, Baucus led the opposition and had no counterproposal.
Congress must address the programs, which are going to face financial problems in the near future, he said.
"Now that the baby boomers are leaving the working generation, this problem is going to escalate quickly," Bushman said. "The lack of action by current politicians is the reason we'll end up cutting benefits or sticking it to the future generations."
Kaiser said Baucus is proud to have opposed "President Bush's plan to privatize Social Security," and that Social Security "is not in a crisis."
"We have long-term problems, and that's why he's working with both parties to come up with long-term solutions," Kaiser said of Baucus.
He said Baucus also is preparing to hold hearings and discussions about Medicare as well.
Source: Helena Independent Record