Former GOP Congressman Lewis urges leaders to 'worry about the next generation'

02/07/2011 08:04 AM

The long term Social Security and Medicare must be retooled for the long haul soon but it’s unclear whether those in Congress have the political will to do anything this year, former Republican Congressman Ron Lewis said.

“It really is time that members of Congress stop worrying about the next election and start worrying about the next generation,” Lewis said on Friday’s edition of Pure Politics.

“In this new Congress, we’re facing a whole lot more debt problems than we were in 1995,” added Lewis, who represented the 2nd Congressional district from 1994 through 2008 when he didn’t seek a second term.

Last week, Kentucky U.S. Sen. Rand Paul told ABC News that Republicans might not be “brave enough” to make some of the tough cuts and changes to programs, including Social Security and Medicare.

Lewis said those issues might be “too much of a political football” because both parties have floated proposals that have been criticized by the other side. Lewis, for instance, cited the backlash against former President George W. Bush who wanted to allow some money from the Social Security trust fund to be diverted into the stock market for retirees.

“I didn’t agree with his bill and what he wanted to do because he was wanting to take the money out of the Social Security trust fund deal with it” and put it into the stock market, Lewis said.

Lewis said had he been running in the last election cycle, he would have considered himself a part of the tea party movement — but might have had some credibility problems with some of them.

“I’m sure the tea party folks would have been upset with me because I voted on bailing out the banks,” Lewis said of his vote in the fall of 2008. “If we didn’t bail out the banks, then people would be standing in line all over this country wanting the bank and they couldn’t have gotten it. We would have gone directly into a deep depression.”

Lewis, who decided not to seek re-election in 2008, is currently teaching art appreciation classes at Elizabethtown Community and Technical College.

(Watch for more of the interview with Lewis this coming week on Pure Politics).

- Ryan Alessi


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