Candidates stress need to balance federal budget

By By John Guidroz / American Press

Balancing the budget, strengthening the

military and supporting veterans were among several issues that

candidates for Louisiana’s

3rd Congressional District discussed Thursday at a forum hosted by

the Southwest Louisiana Tea Party.

Rep. Jeff Landry, R-New Iberia, Bryan Barrilleaux, a Republican, and Libertarian Jim Stark participated in the forum. Rep.

Charles Boustany, R-Lafayette, and Democrat Ron Richard did not attend.

Each candidate stressed the need to balance the nation’s budget. Barrilleaux said Congress needs to bring the war in Afghanistan

“to a swift and decisive victory,” and cut spending by reforming Medicare and Social Security.

Landry said the only way to balance the budget is to “put fiscal handcuffs on our federal government.” He said he joined the

Balanced Budget Amendment Caucus to help in that effort.

“I have fought for (that) amendment,” he said. “It is the only way to get fiscal responsibility in this country.”

Stark said Congress “actually has to submit a budget for it to be balanced.”

Military

Stark said Congress should take its power back from the president to decide whether to go to war, unless the country is under

attack. He said veterans need more support, and they should not have to wait on health care facilities being built before

they can access high-quality health care.

“Let them get their treatment at whatever hospital or doctor they choose to see,” Stark said.

Landry agreed, saying Congress should fulfill its promises to help provide care for veterans.

“If we can’t, how can we expect the government to uphold these promises to ordinary citizens,” he said.

Mitt Romney

The candidates were split on whether they would support Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s legislative agenda.

Stark said he doesn’t know what his agenda is because it changes based on “whatever suits the audience.”

“My legislative agenda is the Constitution,” he said.

Landry said he supports Romney being elected, but that “Congress sets the legislative agenda.”

Barrilleaux said he likes Romney’s plans on Medicare and his energy policy, but that some of his spending cuts “are wishful

thinking.”

Other issues

Stark said the government could reduce the number of imprisoned nonviolent offenders by ending the war on drugs and legalizing

marijuana.

“Alcohol is legal, and it’s much worse,” he said. “You cannot solve any drug problem from a law enforcement standpoint. It

should be a health issue.”

Landry said that if the federal government has determined certain drugs to be illegal, people who are caught with them should

be penalized.

If elected, the candidates said they would uphold the Constitution, which Landry said many lawmakers have stopped following.

Stark said that if everyone in Congress were reported for violating the Constitution, Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, would be the

only one left. He said upholding the Constitution is the “primary duty as a congressman.”

The candidates said they would uphold the Second Amendment to the Constitution, which is the right to bear arms. Barrilleaux

said the amendment is “one of the core protectors of our freedom and liberty.”

They also said they would work to nullify any treaties signed at the United Nations. Landry said that “no treaty can supersede

the Constitution.”

All three candidates support people being required to show a photo ID before voting, with Barrilleaux saying it is “a very

reasonable expectation.”

The election is set for Nov. 6.

The forum took place at the Huddle Up Sports Bar & Grill.