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By THE BAKERSFIELD CALIFORNIAN
The average American needs a politician dictionary handy at all times, because what politicians say isn't always what they mean. That's what former Rep. Bill Thomas, R-Bakersfield, suggested Tuesday on "First Look with Scott Cox" when asked about the government shutdown.
"When someone tells you it's not about the money ... it is. If he says 'it's not about me,' it is," Thomas said.
Thomas, the former chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, left Congress in 2007 after 28 years of service and said he wouldn't know how to operate it at this time.
The federal government shut down Sept. 30 after congressional Republicans demanded changes in the nation's health care law and President Barack Obama and Democrats refused. It was the first government shutdown in 17 years.
Richard Beene, Californian president and CEO, suggested the initial intent of the Republican party was to defund Obamacare, but Thomas said it was more than that.
"It has all kinds of problems and we've seen them now as a portion of it is rolling out," Thomas said. He said the press should have observed "what was a horrible piece of legislation. It isn't even in focus right now."
Many people have concerns about the current debt and government shutdown, and Thomas said he understood the frustration. The Constitution provides for checks and balances, or accommodations and compromises that make the system run.
Beene and Thomas also talked about presidential leadership.
Beene asked Thomas, who was in office during a time that included the Clinton administration, how President Obama stacked up against President Clinton when it comes to dealing with the opposition.
"You can't take historically different periods and circumstances and then say compare one to the other," Thomas said.
Thomas said Clinton sat down and to a certain degree negotiated with Republicans, and that produced results that led to the deficit shrinking.
But he said that although Obama sat down with Republicans, a compromise was not going to happen.
"When one side asks for something that isn't negotiable, then it's going to lose," Thomas said.