Meeting with some of her new Lawrence constituents, Rep. Jan Meyers said Friday that she's become convinced that a balanced budget amendment is the only way the nation's deficit will eventually be controlled.
Speaking to about 80 people attending a luncheon sponsored by the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce at the Eldridge Hotel, Mrs. Meyers said, "I am not really interested in amending the Constitution if you don't have to. But I have decided after seven years in Congress that there is absolutely no way that we are going to get control of spending and get control of the deficit and the debt unless we have an amendment to the Constitution."
On Thursday, a proposed balanced budget amendment failed to a needed two-thirds majority in the House. Mrs. Meyers supported the amendment and she said Friday that she thinks the issue will be revisited later this year in the Senate.
If there is a constitutional amendment, Congress is legally bound not to overspend and run up deficits, she said.
Mrs. Meyers said when Congress approved past spending control laws, she had hoped that would take care of the problem.
"But the deficit has just gotten worse and worse and worse," she said.
She also discussed the Earth Summit taking place in Rio de Janiero and said President Bush could have helped himself if he had better explained the U.S. position.
"THE PRESIDENT so far has taken just a terrible beating in public relations because he is not going to sign the biodiversity treaty," Mrs. Meyers said. "The actions of the United States are not as negative, I think, maybe as they may have seemed, but they have certainly not been presented very well to people."
Mrs. Meyers said five treaties are being discussed at the international environmental meeting.
"The biodiversity agreement is the one I felt the president didn't really explain," she said.
Bush has been criticized for refusing to sign the treaty, which would protect plants and wildlife.
She said Bush didn't explain fully enough that the reason he didn't want to sign it because it would have required the United States to share biogenetic discoveries with other countries.
She also said that with U.S. pressure, other nations agreed to delete a specific timetable that would have said the United States would maintain or roll back carbon dioxide emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2000.
"THE REASON President Bush felt strongly that he could not meet that is that, I think, he felt the other countries of the world have really not addressed it yet," Mrs. Meyers said. "The United States is much further along in our addressing the problem of CO-2 than the rest of the world is and the rest of the world was signing this rather casually without realizing the effort it was going to take to get there from here."
Friday's luncheon was an opportunity for Mrs. Meyers to do some early re-election politicking in Lawrence, which was recently put in her 3rd Congressional District when the state's congressional districts were reapportioned. The district now includes most of Douglas County, and Johnson, Wyandotte and Miami counties.
After her introduction to local residents, Mrs. Meyers wasted no time in distancing herself from some of the major complaints the public has had about Congress.
"I HAD NO bad checks. I paid all my restaurant bills on time. I returned 75 percent of my frank allowance to the federal government. I voted no on all the pay increases. And if one was granted anyway, I gave it back until after the next election," she said, getting an ovation.
Mrs. Meyers said public sentiment toward Congress is at an all-time low "and I think it's important you know I've been behaving myself for the last few years."
During an interview at the J-W on Friday afternoon, Mrs. Meyers said she thinks she can overcome the negative attitude the public has toward Congress and win re-election.
She said a recent Kansas City newspaper check on how efficiently congressional members ran their offices showed she was the thriftiest of all of the Kansas and Missouri members.
"I do think that Congress has a perfectly terrible image and a lot of it is their own fault," she said. "A lot of it is because a number of members of Congress have just not behaved as their constituents expect them to. So I start out by saying I'm not guilty of any of that."
MRS. MEYERS said she may eventually set up a constituent office in Lawrence.
"I don't think we have gotten down the road far enough yet, but it is certainly a possibility," she said.
She also said she planned to campaign as much as she could in Lawrence.
"I'm going to try to focus on Douglas County because that's where there are a lot of new people and where more people haven't met me yet," she said.
So far, Mrs. Meyers has four opponents in the Aug. 4 Republican primary: state Rep. Kerry Patrick, R-Leawood; Gary Adams, Prairie Village; Jim Hall, Stillwell, and Ronald McCreight, Overland Park. The only Democrat so far to file for the seat has been George E. Davis, Olathe. The filing deadline is noon June 24.