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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

LeMieux: Government spending is 'out of control and is simply unsustainable'



Sen. George LeMieux right now is delivering his first speech before his colleagues, using the opportunity to raise alarm over a "mind boggling" national debt.

"Mr. President, the point of no return is upon us," LeMieux said in an advance copy of his remarks. "And we must recognize this simple truth: We cannot afford the government we have, let alone the government that the majority in this Congress wants."

LeMieux credits Gov. Charlie Crist, who appointed him to the Senate when Sen. Mel Martinez quit, and the Florida Legislature for cutting the state budget, and he said the president should have the same line-item veto power that Crist and more than 40 other governors have.

But LeMieux fails to mention that Florida eased its own budget mess by taking the federal stimulus earlier this year -- stimulus that has helped add to the national debt.

LeMieux says he favors health care reform but not the Democratic approach. He said he wants to cut taxes and warned against "new entitlement programs we cannot afford."

LeMieux takes a page from Crist by injecting into his speech a story of a Floridian, 12-year-old Joshua Mailho of Niceville, who wrote LeMieux a letter in September and said he would have to work eight years at Home Depot to raise his share of the national debt (which he calculated at $161,000).

"This debt will affect all of the kids in America ... so please find a way to fix your own mistakes before the children of today have to pay for your mistakes tomorrow," Mailho wrote.

When LeMieux finished, he was praised by Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who said Florida was fortunate to have a "intelligent and insightful" lawmaker. Sen. Bill Nelson said he was looking forward to a fruitful relationship with the junior senator.

[Last modified: Thursday, September 9, 2010 2:23pm]


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