by Sen. Jeff Kruse (R-Roseburg)
I have been having a debate with myself about the tone of my newsletters. It seems I am not sharing a lot of positive news and I was wondering if I was missing something. Over the last couple of weeks I listened to comments from Governor Kitzhaber, Senator Merkley and Congressman DeFazio. The comments made by these three gentlemen make me think I actually may not be off base after all. I will take their comments in order.
Governor Kitzhaber said he had a very successful legislative session. He said he got almost everything he wanted and his only regret was he wasn’t able to “unionize” health care workers. His assessment may be accurate as legislation was passed to consolidate power and authority in the executive branch – specifically in the areas of health care and education. I was very vocal in my opposition as the Legislative Assembly should not be ceding their authority to the Executive Branch. We are getting out of balance and when that happens our form of government ceases to work the way it should. But his last point was the hardest to take. How can anyone reasonably make the case that the first step in trying to make health care affordable is to create more government employees? Could the possibility of collecting more union dues to go into political campaigns be part of this calculation? You decide.
Senator Merkley said two things of note. First he said the problems facing this country are all “Bush’s fault”. Really, does anyone actually believe that? After three years of moving this country in the wrong direction should this administration start taking responsibility for their own poor choices? I happen to think this “blame game” gets us nowhere. The Senator then went on to say Governor Kitzhaber was in a position to make Oregon the first state to implement “Obama Care”. I know I am supposed to call it the “Affordable Health Care Act”, but as there is nothing affordable about it; I will call it Obama care. While the Supreme Court will decide sometime this spring on the Constitutionality of the individual mandate provision of the Act, it should also be pointed out the rest of the Act is proving to be either unworkable or unaffordable. The clear design of Obama Care is the complete government takeover of the health care system, and if this is Governor Kitzhaber’s objective, I will oppose it in every way I can.
Finally we get to Congressman DeFazio. Keep in mind this is the man who introduced legislation to tax every bank transaction you make1. To be clear, this would mean every time you make a deposit, withdrawal or even wrote a check you would pay a tax. The Congressman basically said if DC had more money the problems would be solved. He then went on to say the rich needed to pay their fair share (the theme from the Occupy Wall Street folks). Here is a fact you will never see in the media. If the government confiscated ALL of the assets of the richest 1%, and they could only do it once, the amount of money collected would not run this government for even two weeks. So please tell me how “taxing the rich” solves any problems?
They all want more government and more government control
The things these three elected officials have in common in their “search for solutions” are all of their answers result in the need for more government and more government control. When I talk to business owners what they tell me is they don’t want any government handouts, they want less regulations so they can run their business. The concept that business is inherently evil and needs the heavy hand of government to keep them from doing bad things is almost too ridiculous to even warrant a response.
Most of the problems we currently face cannot be solved by creating more government. In fact many of our problems are the result of already having too much government involvement in areas of our life that are none of their business. We hear from the Governor and other elected officials that jobs are the number one priority. The problem is, many here in Salem believe the solution is the creation of more government jobs. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is time for government to back down from all of the over regulations and the mind numbing administrative rules currently in place making it virtually impossible in some cases for businesses to even get started. If we don’t change now we will continue to see an exodus of businesses from Oregon and our situation will continue to get worse.
Footnote1: Normally I stay focused on Oregon, but the genesis for the above newsletter was speeches made by Senator Merkley and Congressman DeFazio a couple of weeks ago in Douglas County. It appears what I wrote upset the Congressman. His DC staff called my office a couple of times with non specific complaints. Finally the Congressman himself left a voice message with specificity and threatening to take action if I didn’t make a correction. His tone was very terse and rude, but what follows is my response.
As a general rule I do not respond to threats or strong arm tactics. I refuse to play that game. I would also point out the First Amendment gives me the right to say whatever I want. Additionally, Congressman, if you can demonstrate that everything you have ever said has been completely accurate and truthful then you might have a leg to stand on. Having said that; I do try to be accurate so I would like to make a correction. The Congressman did not propose a bank transaction tax; he proposed a financial transaction tax. To a degree this is splitting hairs. The basic premise is still the government needs to find more ways to take more money from the people. The Congressman then goes on to point out this would be less than what is currently being charged in Europe. Why would we want to emulate any part of the financial situation Europe is currently in?
All of this ignores the bigger question of what has been proposed to reign in the massive expansion of the federal government. I am not seeing anything from our Congressional Delegation in this area. Additionally, what is the Congressman doing to change policy so we can once again harvest trees from our federal forests? Currently we are forced to stand by and watch them burn and we don’t even have the ability to do salvage logging after a fire. The Congressman is supporting a continuation of the federal timber payments, but everyone knows this is not the solution.
We have counties in Oregon on the verge of insolvency and at this point I don’t think we fully understand the full scope of what the impact on the state would be if this happened. Currently the unemployment rate in Curry County alone is nearly 13%. The organization of ONC Counties has come up with a reasonable plan, but the Congressman has yet to support it. I am a member of the Timber Payments Task Force recently created by our Legislative Assembly and we know the real solution cannot happen without changes in federal policy.
The problem I see with Congress during this recession (which is far from over) is their first actions seem to be to protect government and in my mind they have it backwards. I know there are those who think growing government and creating government jobs will “help” the economy. At a time when 40 cents out of every dollar the government spends is borrowed I don’t see how that can work. If you want what is happening in Greece or Italy to happen here, I will tell you our current policies will get us there.
I would suggest that if Congress required every federal agency to justify all of their division and programs and eliminated those that don’t work or are unnecessary we would no longer have a need to find new revenue sources. To a large degree Washington DC is like Oregon. We don’t have a revenue problem, we have a spending problem. I am looking forward to hearing about real solutions from Congress. I will, however, not be holding my breath while I wait.
Here’s a link to Sen. Kruse’s past newsletters (click on News, then on Newsletters)