U.S. Rep. Austin Scott, R-Ga., sees an ideal role for the federal government, and it isn’t the one it currently plays.
Scott, in his third term in the U.S. House of Representatives, addressed the Macon Rotary Club on Monday and said he wanted to see a more focused approach for the nation’s military. He also criticized federal agencies and the “regulatory burden” they place on business owners. Scott said state governments are better suited for determining the regulations that are needed for industries within their borders.
“We don’t need a federal agency passing down rules as well,” he said.
Scott said there isn’t much that could be done about those regulations as long as President Barack Obama is in office.
“I’m telling you, I think things are going to get better 18 months from now,” he said, alluding to the end of Obama’s second term following the 2016 election.
One key to eliminating regulations and the constraints they put on economic growth, Scott said, lies in changing the way infractions are treated. He said businesses face steep penalties from the Environmental Protection Agency or Occupational Safety and Health Administration for accidents, and owners have to settle out of court to avoid the legal fees even if they win.
“The government should pay the legal fees for that owner,” he said, noting that the agencies are operating on a much different budget. “They’re spending someone else’s money, and that money happens to be yours.”
Macon architect Gene Dunwody Jr. asked Scott about his stance on the regulations that he said have grown exponentially in recent years in the construction and housing industries. Dunwody approved of the answer but still wasn’t optimistic and said he also preferred state control of such measures.
“I appreciate the fact that (Scott) cares about it ... but I don’t think we can overcome it,” Dunwody said.
Foreign policy under the Obama administration also drew Scott’s criticism. He said moves like Obama’s Iran nuclear deal had received opposition from both parties and “emboldened” enemies of Israel, a country that Scott considers among America’s top allies.
“I worry about (Iran) having weapons of mass destruction in the most volatile region of the world,” he said.
Scott laid out how he thought the battle over the deal would go in the coming months. He predicted that resolutions of disapproval would pass in both the House and the Senate, but he noted that Obama would use his veto to counter those measures.
“And then the question will become if we have enough votes in the House and in the Senate to override his veto,” he said.
He also accused Obama of encouraging Democratic senators to boycott a speech by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Capitol. While senators and congressmen did skip the speech, the allegation that Obama organized that effort was incorrect, said Alastair Baskey, National Security Council spokesman.
“Totally not true,” he said in an email via McClatchy’s Washington bureau.
Scott’s talk also focused on local interests. He said that, unlike four years ago, he was confident that Robins Air Force Base would be safe if another Base Realignment and Closure process were to take place.
The relationship between the base and the workers’ union as well as the potential to do work for other branches of the military had changed Scott’s perception of the Houston County installation.
“I feel very good about Robins Air Force Base and where we would come out in a round of BRAC,” he said. “Things are good at Robins.”
To contact writer Jeremy Timmerman, call 744-4331 or find him on Twitter:@MTJTimm.