Republican incumbent Sixth District U.S. Congressman Andy Barr is up with a television ad touting bills he’s introduced to require lawmakers to comply with laws they pass, see their pay reduced if the national debt increases and to impose term limits.
But none of those measures have passed the U.S. House although Barr is a member of the majority.
Barr is nearing the end of his first term after defeating Democrat Ben Chandler in 2012, a time in a congressional career when lawmakers are most vulnerable to challenge. He faces a challenge from Democrat Elisabeth Jensen, who heads an education non-profit, but her campaign suffers from a lack of funding.
Jensen had run two television ads, touting her positions on economic issues such as raising the minimum wage and equal pay for equal work by women, but those ads aren’t currently running. She said Tuesday evening at the Scott County Roosevelt Dinner that she’s conserving money so she can run ads late in the campaign.
The new Barr ad says he’s “holding Washington accountable.” It then lists proposals to cut federal spending, reduce Congressional pay if the national debt ratio rises and limit a member’s time in office to 12 years.
It also says, “Andy returned tens of thousands of dollars from his office budget to the taxpayers.”
Jensen has hit Barr repeatedly for spending money for the “franking” privilege, mailings which when bearing a congressman’s signature aren’t charged postage.
Barr said the bill on the national debt would not prevent paying the debt or force default. Rather, it would establish declining schedules of debt as a ratio to the Gross Domestic Product. If Congress failed to meet those scheduled targets, he said, lawmakers’ pay would be cut.
Jensen also charges that Barr — who sits on the House Banking Committee — caters to Wall Street rather than to middle class wage earners. Barr said his efforts to amend or reform the Dodd-Frank banking reform passed in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis and subsequent bank bailouts is intended to make it easier for small lending institutions to make capital available to small business and farm owners.
Barr said he does not oppose increasing wages. “We need wages to go way up, but we need them to go higher than $10.10 an hour,” the target Jensen supports for the minimum wage. But Barr doesn’t support a government requirement to increase wages, he said, instead lawmakers should pursue legislation to “produce robust growth” to drive everyone’s wages up.
Raising the minimum wage, Barr said, quoting several academic studies, would “suppress hiring” and, according to the Congressional Budget Office, cost about 500,000 jobs. (There are competing studies on both sides of the issue which reach different conclusions, including some often quoted by Jensen which say an increase in the minimum wage would ultimately create jobs.)
Barr’s term-limit amendment would limit members of Congress to 12 years and would be prospective, beginning the count on lawmaker terms only after passage, much as a Kentucky amendment to allow governors to succeed themselves after a first term did not apply to then incumbent Gov. Brereton Jones.
Barr said it’s not his “intention” to serve more than 12 years, but he said he doesn’t think he should be required to live by any constriction which doesn’t apply to all congressmen.
Asked why the bills in his TV ad haven’t passed the Republican-controlled House, Barr said it takes time to collect a sufficient number of co-sponsors for such legislation to clear committees and pass the House floor.