Local Politics

Saturday, Oct 19 2013 08:00 PM

Post-shutdown, valley congressman shares his views

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    Rep. David Valadao appeared on "First Look with Scott Cox."

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By The Bakersfield Californian

Here's more of The Californian's conversation with Rep. David Valadao, R-Hanford:

 

TBC: Arizona Sen. John McCain called the shutdown and the debt limit threat "one of the more shameful chapters I have seen in the years I have spent here in the Senate."

Do you agree or disagree? Why?

 

Valadao: I didn't see his quote or in what context it was placed... When I was elected to Congress, I campaigned on working across the aisle. We started off on these negotiations with the position that we knew the president or the Senate would never pass. But if you watch the progression over the last few weeks, I think that the House did a really good job of coming up with every idea under the sun to try to get some kind of conversation. We even ... passed a bill to start a conference committee to sit down and talk about this, two days into it. You literally had the Senate dragging their feet, wasting as much time as possible... No one ever campaigns on not working across the aisle and we had a situation now where the Senate did not want to talk to us and the president did not want to talk to us. And they wanted to drag us out as much as possible... We did our best to end this as quickly as possible, but obviously we didn't have a partner in the White House or in the Senate.

 

TBC: In its Oct. 5 print edition, The Economist magazine laid both crises squarely on the shoulders of congressional Republicans. Polls show most Americans agree.

"Republicans," The Economist argued, "are setting a precedent which, if followed, would make America ungovernable. Voters have seen fit to give their party control of one arm of government -- the House of Representatives -- while handing the Democrats the White House and the Senate.

"If a party with such a modest electoral mandate threatens to shut down government unless the other side repeals a law it does not like, apparently settled legislation will always be vulnerable to repeal by the minority. Washington will be permanently paralyzed and America condemned to chronic uncertainty."

Your response?

 

Valadao: No one threatened to shut down the government. We offered every way possible to fund the government. That was not a place we wanted to go. Leadership and myself and many others never wanted it to get to this point. We offered ... simple things like delaying the individual mandate. That is not a crazy right-wing opinion. That is something that we had plenty of bipartisan support on. If the law is so great, why has the president himself changed at least a dozen times different portions of the law with deferrals, exemptions, and different things that he's done. We ask for the same thing from the average American person. This isn't an extreme position. Obviously, where we started was one place but where we ended was not anywhere near anything extreme.

... And Obamacare, an individual mandate, you're still allowing people to sign up for Obamacare, but why the mandate? Why not allow people that don't want to join to not, at least for that whole year, while we figure out the bugs? That wasn't an extreme position, it's very common sense.

 

TBC: Financial journalist Felix Salmon argued in his Reuters blog on Monday that the global faith in U.S. institutions had already been undermined by the crisis, and as a result, "economic growth in both the U.S. and the rest of the world will be lower than it should be."

Do you agree with Salmon that damage has already been done to America's economy and standing in the global arena?

 

Valadao: I'm not going to get into other people's quotes and try to separate them. I do not like what happened. The shutdown was not part of my plan. The shutdown was something we did everything in our power to stop, and to get rid of. We voted almost 20 times to fund the government. This falls solely on the Senate and their partisan votes.

 

TBC: A statement from your office asserted you have always advocated against and remain strongly opposed to a government shutdown.

But over the past 16 days, you did not speak out against the shutdown as some of your colleagues did, including Rep. Devin Nunez, who described colleagues willing to let the federal government shut down as "lemmings with suicide vests.''

 

Valadao: I think he was referring to those who wanted to see a government shutdown. I'm not one of the ones who wanted to see a government shutdown.

 

TBC: Is it time to eliminate debt ceilings and Congress' practice of fighting over whether to pay the bills for things it has already purchased?

 

Valadao: No, the debt ceiling is us deciding that we do not want to go over a certain amount of money being spent that much for American citizens. No budget has been passed under the Senate, under this president. So he's never ever tried to live under any type of spending plan like the average American citizen.

 

TBC: Are you OK with leaving the system in place as it is now, and possibly going through this periodically?

 

Valadao: The American people deserve to have us in Washington talking about the decisions that we make and how we spend our money. Especially having open conversations so that when we do make decisions and the debt on their backs is increased, that they know how it affects them and why it's going on and not just allowed to continue. Could you imagine at home if that's how people lived in their personal lives?

 

TBC: If there is another debt ceiling fight in the near future, within the next year, are there better ways to conduct government? Is it a last resort?

 

Valadao: What we've done, and I've been here 10 months now, is worked on passing a budget, the path to prosperity. And I worked on the appropriations committee, to appropriate money to fund the programs we thought necessary. We passed some of them over to the Senate and they did nothing with them.

The way government is supposed to work is (through a) budget. Appropriate the money to fill in that budget, and the president signs it and we live by those rules. That's how it is supposed to be. It hasn't happened since this president has been in office.

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