Debt dominates Crapo visit

Medical concerns also voiced at Post Falls appearance

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Virginia McDonald of Hayden tells Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, about her concerns on Medicare and tax increase proposals during a town hall meeting at Q'emiln Park in Post Falls on Friday night.

POST FALLS - Don Carll has a message on the national debt for Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, to take back to Washington.

"Cut the size of the federal government," the Hayden man said during a picnic-style town hall meeting on Friday night at Q'emiln Park. "It's that simple. We have no business being in a lot of countries."

Crapo said he agrees the size of federal agencies needs to be reviewed, but there's also a feeling in Washington, not with him, that there's hesitancy to turn more responsibility over to the states because they don't have the ability to manage themselves well.

The comment drew a collective sigh from the crowd of about 175 as Crapo acknowledged Idaho is much better off fiscally than most states and the federal government.

"If the federal government managed itself like the state of Idaho, there wouldn't be a problem," Crapo said.

The federal debt has soared to about $16 trillion, which is more than 100 percent of the country's gross domestic product.

"In terms of the American dream and what is on the line for our future, I'm not sure if we've ever faced a bigger threat," Crapo said.

Crapo spoke of a "fiscal cliff" that's not years away, but one that could be reached by the end of this year after the election.

He said the debt ceiling is nearing again and the country could slip into a depression if the debt isn't dealt with soon.

Crapo is part of the "Gang of Six" - a group of three Democrats and three Republicans assigned to developing a solution to chip away at the debt.

The proposal calls for tax reform, budget cuts and changes to federal entitlement programs to reduce the debt by about $4 trillion over the next several years.

Crapo said he believes the plan would be a start on the debt, but follow-up programs will also be needed.

"It will keep us breathing oxygen rather than being under water," Crapo said, adding that it should also help the economy.

He said a large tax increase isn't a good idea as it would be a hit on small business and others in a weak economy.

Crapo said spending our way out of the debt won't happen either.

"That's like saying, 'Can you drink yourself sober?'" he said.

Concerns over Obamacare and other medical issues were also voiced at the event hosted by the Kootenai County Republican Women.

Post Falls' Gary Nystrom is on Medicare, but said he has been struggling to find a doctor for about seven years who will accept him as a patient.

Crapo agrees that there needs to be an overhaul in the way Medicare is administered because the system is failing. Roughly 50 percent of doctors don't take on new patients who are on Medicare.

"The reason for that is Medicare doesn't compensate them enough, so they have to pay out of their own pockets," he said.

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