December 3, 2005
As I mentioned the other night, I went to see Rep. Tom Price at a Q&A meeting this morning. I actually got to sit down with the Congressman for about 5 minutes, and discuss some of the things on my mind. As I mentioned to Rep. Price, there’s not much that I could be upset about, as he seems to have a knack for supporting the same things I do. After thanking him for his co-sponsorship of the FairTax, and the usual pleasantries, we got down to the meat of my concerns.
I asked him first about spending. I’ve said before that I’m a big fan of tax cuts, but cutting taxes while raising spending is just insane. Price said that the biggest problem that he sees is that nobody, on either side of the aisle in Washington, seems to have the desire to cut spending. He pointed out that it has been a decades-long shift that people in Washington have ceased to believe that their job is legislating, but that it has now become bringing home federal dollars. If both the Republicans and the Democrats simply don’t care about reining in spending, it’s just not going to happen. And that’s where we find ourselves today.
He specifically mentioned accountability, in so much as he is hoping (trying?) to get the appropriations process changed so that each earmark has the name of the congressman who requests the earmark clearly demarked on the bill. He said that he often has trouble finding out who is actually requesting certain earmarks when they come out of committee. I suggested the idea that Jon Henke of QandO came up with, that each individual earmark be brought before the entire House for a vote. The Congressman (rightly) pointed out that there are thousands of earmarks, and they simply don’t have time to do this. While I would hope that this might actually reduce the total number of earmarks, I can see his point. Either way, we need some sort of transparency/accountability on the budgetary process.
He also mentioned his support for a balanced budget amendment. I asked how this would work, especially in the face of natural disasters such as Katrina. He mentioned that below a certain level of expenses in the case of war/natural disaster, offsets would be required to be made to ensure that we stay at a balanced budget. There would be an escape route in the face of certain large-scale spending needs. I think this is something that would definitely be a major step in the right direction.
Last on the spending front, we discussed the growing schism in the libertarian/Republican coalition over fiscal responsibility. Price pointed out that the recent $50B spending cuts, which he also expressed that they are paltry compared to the overall budget being that they’re over 5 years, only passed 217-215. Considering the current breakdown in the House, he mentioned that there might be some Republicans, but not all that many fiscal conservatives.
On spending, he seemed to be genuinely upset at the spree our current Congress has gone on. I think he understands that there is a backlash building, and can’t stand that his fellow Republicans are becoming Democrat-lite.
After spending, I decided to bring up the idea of Social Security reform. I wanted to know whether or not this was a done deal. He mentioned that the President was still pushing for this, but that he didn’t think the Congress would do anything until after the ‘06 elections.
At this point, I think I caught him off guard a little bit. I asked, “Do you think that the push will be for private accounts, or that they’ll go all the way and institute means-testing?” I think most conservatives prefer the idea of private accounts, but I’ve worried that it would increase the footprint of government on our stock market, and don’t like that idea very much. I’d much rather that they simply means-test the program, since you know that the system will never allow the poor elderly to go without, no matter whether they squander their private accounts or not. You might as well just give us a payroll tax break and means-test.
I think Price was a little surprised, and I think he wasn’t quite expecting that question. He mentioned that if the Republicans do well in ‘06, they might shoot for private accounts, otherwise they may do something smaller like limited means-testing. I think he sees private accounts as more politically palatable than my plan, especially with the support of the President, but at least I got the chance to explain why I prefer means-testing to private accounts.
Last, we talked a little bit about blogs. His office is thinking of working with Redstate.org, doing occasional posts there. He then caught me off-guard, asking what blogs I regularly visit. That’s a question I wasn’t expecting. I was only able to stammer out “Wizbang“. I then mentioned the LLP Community, and mentioned that he can find information on that at Eric’s Grumbles. I’ll probably send him an email to provide some of the links and such.
Overall, it was a good 5 minutes. I think I came away with it thinking as highly or more so of Rep. Price than I did before. For a first-term Congressman, he seems to have his mind exactly where it should be. I never realized when I moved to Georgia that I’d be blessed with a Congressman that I can’t rant about how incompetent he is. It’s great to be his consituent, not so great to be a blogger in his district!
Below The Beltway linked with Carnival Of The Magnolias V
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