Speaker McCarthy Outlines Priority Domestic Issues - TribPapers

Speaker McCarthy Outlines Priority Domestic Issues

U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy. Photo Provided.

Washington, D.C. – Republican domestic policy priorities for this new year center on the budget, such as trying to reverse tax hikes and corporate job losses and reigning in runaway spending to lessen recurrence of high inflation and to ease the national debt.

The new GOP majority in the U.S. House of Representatives is led by Speaker Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield, Calif. His 58th birthday is on Thursday, Jan. 26. McCarthy was voted in as speaker at 1:13 a.m. EST on Saturday, Jan. 7, on the 15th vote over four days. He was sworn in, gave an acceptance speech, then swore in the others in the 435-member House.

The newly-elected local congressman is Chuck Edwards (R-11th District), 62. The Henderson County native publicly backs many Commitment to America policy stances.

This GOP platform was unveiled by McCarthy and other party leaders four months ago. That phrase harkens back to the GOP’s Contract with America in 1994, when victorious Republicans swept into control of both chambers of Congress for the first time in 42 years. Then-Speaker Newt Gingrich and Rep. Dick Armey based a legislative agenda on former President Ronald Reagan’s State of the Union address in 1985.

The current Republican platform mainly covers the economy, public safety, personal freedoms, and government accountability. It calls for returning military training priority to preparation to fight instead of “woke” indoctrination and vaccine inoculation, allowing more oil drilling to reclaim energy independence, easing ‘green’ energy mandates and costly regulations, and not cow-towing to international groups’ environmental and economic mandates.

Upcoming House investigations include on the Biden family’s alleged influence peddling and secret document mishandling, Chinese influence, and concerns about politicization of the FBI and of social media platforms that selectively censor dissenting free speech. Speaker McCarthy said that “from the withdrawal from Afghanistan, to the origins of COVID, to the weaponization of the FBI. Let me be very clear. We will use the power of the purse and the power of the subpoena, to get the job done.”

Moreso on the local and state level, GOP leaders nationwide are eager to support parents’ free-speech rights to object in public meetings to sex-changing mutilation of their young children and other school and health policies. Many Republicans oppose allowing genetic males who claim to self-identify as females to play on female teams or use women’s bathrooms. Many in the GOP also oppose critical race theory and “equity” reparations.

Republicans are also urging crime-reduction measures such as doing away with police defunding and cashless bail, cracking down on organized “snatch and grab” store thief rings, and organizing recall petitions of prosecutors who are extremely lenient in violent offense cases. A major loophole in some cities is that it is a mere misdemeanor to steal less than $900 in merchandise, and thieves familiar with store values swipe just less than that value.

Congress can help, such as by sending federal money to hire more officers instead of more IRS agents. McCarthy called the GOP platform a “commitment to a nation that’s safe. Where communities are protected, law enforcement is respected, and criminals are prosecuted.” His House colleagues applauded loudest on this point.

Speaker McCarthy said in his acceptance speech that an early step is to “repeal the funding for 87,000 new IRS agents. You see, we believe that government should be to help people. Not go after them. We’re going to pass a fix to cure the nation’s urgent challenges — from wide-open southern borders to American-last energy policies, to ‘woke’ indoctrination in our schools.”

‘Chat with Chuck’

These are among many priority objectives of the newly-elected Republican majority in the 118th House, led by Speaker McCarthy and supported by Rep. Edwards.

Rep. Edwards said, “Now it’s time to focus on delivering to the American people the House Republican’s Commitment to America — from strengthening our borders to restoring our economy.” He said the objective is to “ensure a strong, safe and prosperous nation for current and future generations… to improve lives and opportunities of our citizens.”

Edwards announced on Monday that the Republican Steering Committee recommended him to serve on three House committees — more than usual for a freshman congressman. “My colleagues in Washington recognize that I’m there to work hard,” Edwards said. “I was known as a workhorse” as a state senator.

Edwards’ committees are on Budget, Transportation and Infrastructure, and Oversight and Accountability, pending GOP Conference approval. “This is a chance to help strengthen transportation and infrastructure in our mountains, which I hear about frequently when traveling around the district,” Edwards said.” It’s also a chance to tackle our ever-increasing debt and deficit, and to help make government more transparent and accountable.”

Edwards pledged to visit in January all 15 western North Carolina counties that he represents. “Chat with Chuck” will be on Monday, Jan. 30 from 9:30-11:30 a.m. in his district office at 200 N. Grove St., Suite 121 in Hendersonville. He made four stops in Buncombe County on Jan. 19 including at Erwin High School.

Much GOP policy priority is to undo very recent changes made a Democrat-controlled Congress and White House. The nation is midway through Joe Biden’s four-year term as president. McCarthy said the House GOP will act as a “check, and provide some balance to the president’s policies.”

It is tough for Republicans to get their measures into law, since Democrats still have a slight Senate edge and Biden can veto bills. Speaker McCarthy rhymed in proclaiming that “as a Congress, we can only operate if we cooperate… Congress must speak with one voice.”

Spending Spree

Congress rushed through a $1.7 trillion Omnibus bill before Christmas, before a GOP-led House was in office to block it. Basic economic theory is that substantial federal spending fuels inflation, the Federal Reserve hikes rate, and that causes recession, job losses and plummeting stock portfolio values. On June 23, 2022, before the Omnibus bill worsened the situation, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell testified to Congress that “the U.S. is on an unsustainable fiscal path. Meaning the debt is growing faster than the economy” is growing.

Speaker McCarthy said in his acceptance speech that the GOP platform is a “commitment to an economy that’s strong. Where you can afford to fill up your tank with gas, and feed your family. Where paychecks grow — and do not shrink.” He said that the aim is “making it possible for American families to live, and enjoy the lives they deserve… We should stand up and speak out for the backbone of our economy — the hard working taxpayer.”

McCarthy said that “we commit to stop wasteful Washington spending” and in turn the “rising national debt,” a severe “threat” that is chief among “our country’s long-term challenges.”

He compares spending hikes under Barack Obama and now Biden as “like a kid keeps hitting a credit card. We’re going to look at every single dollar spent. We’re going to audit. From now on, if a wasteful federal bureaucrat wants to spend it, they will come before us to defend it.”

Burdensome Debt

The debt is over $31.5 trillion. This amounts to $246,867 per U.S. taxpayer. The debt is six times higher than in 2000, when it was just over $5 trillion.

Debt interest payments are about $400 billion in this fiscal year 2023 that began Oct. 1, 2022. At the ongoing rate of federal spending increases, the Congressional Budget Office projects the national debt to reach $1.2 trillion annually in ten years. If so, it is on track to becoming the nation’s largest spending program.

The debt is on course to reach the current ceiling on June 5, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen noted. Congressional debate is already underway about how much to raise the limit and/or lower spending. A compromise in 2011 resulted in reduced discretionary spending Democrats sought, yet less defense spending as a GOP concession.

Some Republicans call for changing the 1917 debt law from a set dollar amount to a ratio of debt to gross domestic product (GDP), with automatic spending cuts for exceeding the limit. GDP is the total monetary or market value of finished goods produced and services provided within U.S. borders in a year.

Republican leaders want much less debt in the debt-to-GDP ratio, which has zoomed to 125 percent. That is triple the 40 percent it was in 2008 before Barack Obama became president, and much more than the 70 percent in 2018, moderate Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.) said on Fox News Sunday on Jan. 22.