Senate Democratic candidate criticizes Enzi's 'penny plan'

2014-07-10T08:15:00Z 2014-07-11T09:57:16Z Senate Democratic candidate criticizes Enzi's 'penny plan'By LAURA HANCOCK Star-Tribune staff writer The Billings Gazette

CASPER, Wyo. — Charlie Hardy, a Democrat running for the U.S. Senate seat occupied by Mike Enzi, criticized the sitting senator’s so-called penny plan, which would cut 1 percent from total federal spending for three years to balance the budget by 2017.

Hardy is one of four Democrats facing off in the Aug. 19 primary. Enzi, a Republican who has been in office since 1997, faces four other Republicans in the primary. The general election is Nov. 4.

On June 30, Enzi’s campaign sent a press release calling on Wyomingites to support his penny plan bill by signing their names on the website Pennyplansolution.com.

Enzi has introduced and supported the penny plan in the past. This year, Enzi introduced the bill June 19. It was referred to the Senate Budget Committee, where it awaits consideration.

Hardy, in a statement Wednesday, said the penny plan represents laziness. Some programs should be cut more than 1 percent, and others need more funding, he said.

“Instead of facing the problem of wasteful spending in some areas, it simply punishes all programs and the people who are touched by those programs,” he said.

Hardy believes that programs benefiting veterans, senior citizens and children should receive more attention.

Hardy took a swipe at Enzi’s legacy by citing another Wyoming Republican statesmen, former U.S. Sen. Al Simpson, who with Erskine Bowles led the bipartisan National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform in 2010.

“I would recommend that Sen. Enzi read the Simpson-Bowles recommendations (in) ‘A Bipartisan Path Forward to Securing America’s Future,’ ” he said. “In the second paragraph they criticize ‘the abrupt, mindless, and across-the-board spending cuts of the sequester.’ This is exactly what Sen. Enzi is proposing.”

Kristin Walker, a campaign spokeswoman for Enzi, said the national debt is $17.5 trillion, or $55,000 for each U.S. citizen. The penny plan is one in a series of steps to put the country on a fiscally responsible path, she said.

“Instead of mandating specific reductions, what the penny plan does is enable lawmakers to make targeted cuts and focus on eliminating the worst first, cutting duplicative and ineffective programs and scaling back spending where it would have the least impact on the day-to-day lives of American citizens,” she said in an email.

“If Congress fails to make those tough decisions, then automatic cuts would be imposed to meet the 1 percent overall reduction.”

Copyright 2014 The Billings Gazette. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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