By Peter Guinta
U.S. Sen. George LeMieux, R-Fla., said this week that congressional spending adds $1.5 trillion per year to the already enormous national debt and added that, until his term ends in January, he'll seek an across-the-board spending cap, limiting spending to 2007 levels.
"We are three to five years from a crisis of confidence," LeMieux said during an interview at The St. Augustine Record. "We already spend $200 billion a year just to pay the interest on our existing national debt. By 2013, that debt could reach $13 trillion and we'll need to pay $600 billion a year in interest. At that level, the government may be unsustainable."
Out-of-control spending isn't solely President Obama's fault.
Obama proposes the budget, but Congress ignores it, he said, and comes up with its own.
"Congress needs to set priorities. It's hard work, but Congress will have to do that work. It has never made hard choices," he said. "We may have to do oversight as well. Otherwise, how would we know if the programs we fund are working?"
As an example, he said more than 100,000 people work for the Department of Agriculture alone.
"Lord knows what those people are doing. There's one for every three farmers," he said.
LeMieux is a native Floridian and current Fort Lauderdale resident with his wife and four small children. He was appointed in 2009 to the U.S. Senate by Gov. Charlie Crist to fill the remainder of Sen. Mel Martinez's unexpired term.
Crist had selected him for posts previously.
The senator's web site said he was elected chairman of the Broward County Republican Party in 2000, served as deputy attorney general and chief of staff to then Attorney General Charlie Crist in 2003, led the Executive Office of the Governor as Crist's chief of staff in 2007, and in 2008 rejoined the Gunster, Yoakley Law firm.
He currently serves on the Armed Services Committee, the Commerce, Science & Transportation Committee, the Special Committee on Aging, and the China Commission.
During the interview, LeMieux blasted President Obama's universal health-care bill.
"It's a huge new entitlement program we can't afford," he said. "The American people don't like what they see coming out of Washington. Pressure may force the president to govern from the middle. This is my only hope."
But he expressed support for expanding Northrop-Grumman's E2-D program, tort reform to drop the cost of health care, reforming Social Security by raising retirement ages for those under 50 and by introducing means testing, and reforming Medicare.
"Nothing is more meaningful than to tackle the costs of health care," he said.
He also is supporting a small business bill moving through Congress that would cuts taxes for small businesses and provides money for community banks to make loans to small businesses.
"There are two million small businesses in Florida. They can't get loans. This is important for Florida," he said. "(But Congress will) also have to deal with energy policy, immigration and continuing the Bush tax cuts."
But the debt was his biggest fear.
"When no one wants to lend us money, our markets will react in anticipation of the problem," he said. "(To fix this) is going to take political will. There will be a lot of huddling (by both parties)."