CENTERVILLE -- U.S. Rep. Austin Scott, R-Ga., said he had two key issues with the debt limit increase passed by the House and Senate and signed by President Barack Obama last week -- potential cuts to military and a balanced budget amendment.
“Any cuts to the military can have a dramatic impact on the state of Georgia,” he said Saturday after speaking at an event hosted by the Houston County Republican Party.
“We’ve got Robins Air Force Base, we’ve got Fort Benning, we’ve got Fort Stewart, we’ve got Kings Bay (Naval Base). ... One of my jobs is protecting that military complex and our men and women, not only in my district, but really for all of Georgia ... and the men and women who are out there fighting for us,” he said.
About 60 people gathered at Centerville City Hall to hear the 8th District congressman speak at what Aaron Hufstetler, chairman of the Houston County Republican Party, called an informational session to “let the people know what’s going on.”
Scott spent much of the hourlong session breaking down federal spending and potential effects of the new law, many times referring back to the Cut, Cap and Balance Act, which he supported as it passed through the House of Representatives but was rejected by the Senate.
“Cut, Cap and Balance, I think, is probably one of the best pieces of compromise legislature that has ever been put together in Congress,” he said, explaining that the bill proposed raising the national debt limit but also gradually cutting spending by 1 percent each year until tax revenues were about 19 percent of the gross domestic product.
The act also guaranteed the balanced budget amendment went to the states for ratification, he said, which was not included in last week’s deal. That was the second sticking point for him, he said, moving him to vote “no.”
“If you’re a Republican, if you’re conservative, it’s going to be hard for you to be happy with anything that’s actually coming out of Washington, D.C., right now,” he said, noting the Democratic control of the Senate and presidency. “We can’t push forward with our agenda, but we can stop them from theirs and make them agree to parts of ours before they do part of theirs.”
At several points, he criticized Obama’s leadership during the debt debate in Washington, pointing out that the president’s bill received no votes in the Senate.
“The president didn’t like Cut, Cap and Balance, that’s fine,” Scott said. “He didn’t like the (Paul) Ryan budget, that’s fine. But what is not fine is for him to sit back and not present anything that actually resolves the issues -- and that is exactly what he did.”
Scott said Obama’s proposals to raise taxes for wealthy Americans won’t sit well with his constituents unless there was a hard cap on federal spending and the money went to paying off the national debt.
One point that received much applause was Scott saying he would work to remove a prohibition in the federal law against drug testing for those who receive food stamps or federal assistance.
“We’ve got a lot of people out there that are receiving handouts that have plenty of money to do drugs, but won’t pay for their own food,” he said.
“I’m going to be fighting to remove it, so we’re not taxing working people to pay for irresponsibility,” he said.
Scott also spoke briefly about the Friday announcement that Standard & Poor’s lowered the United States’ long-term credit rating to AA-plus due to political risks and rising debt.
“Unfortunately, now that we have the downgrade, the end result of that will probably be higher interest rates on the American citizens and, quite honestly, the American government. The percentage of our budget that’s going to pay the national debt may very well go up simply because of the increased interest rates, so again the things that we were trying to avoid in passing the Cut, Cap and Balance and the Republican Paul Ryan’s budget,” he said. “Unfortunately, we didn’t get any action on that in the Senate and we had to downgrade. The bottom line is this: We need to get up there and work to create jobs, get Americans back to work and get the AAA rating back.”
However, getting to that point will take time, Scott said. “We didn’t get here over night,” he said. “We’re not going to get out of this over night.”