An Independent Voters View | An Interview with Rep Jack Kingston (R) Ga
At a recent BBQ hosted by my Congressman the Hon Jack Kingston (R) 1stDistGa, I asked Jack if he would consent to this email interview. He immediately and kindly agreed to do so, even though I am not an accredited journalist for any current publication. I know Mr Kingston from work I have done in the American Legion and have learned first hand of his continued support for our service members and veterans. Jack also knows that I’m an independent voter and sometimes don’t necessarily agree with the Republican Party as a whole, but given his voting record in congress, I would say we are in agreement more often than not.
Honorable Jack Kingston’s Biography (www,jackkingston.org)
Jack is now serving his 17th year as US Congressman for Georgia's First District. During each term Jack has been recognized as the "Taxpayer’s Hero" by Citizens Against Government Waste. He has been named a "Friend of the Farmer" by the Georgia Farm Bureau, "Senior Friendly" by the 60-Plus Association, a Sober Coach advocate by the TDCA and a "Guardian of Small Business" by the National Federation of Independent Business. In May 1997, Jack became the first Member of Congress to receive the National Rural Water Association’s "Green Key" Award for his commitment to protecting public health, quality of life, and the environment. In January 1998, Jack received the Georgia Peanut Commission’s highest honor, their "Distinguished Service Award."
Born in Bryan,Texas, Jack grew up in Athens, Georgia, where he received a degree in Economics from the University of Georgia. Prior to serving in Congress, he worked for Palmer & Cay/Carswell, Inc. selling agribusiness and commerical insurance thorughout Southeast Georgia.
Jack lives in Savannah with his wife Libby and their four children, commuting to Washington for legislative business.
Questions are highlighted in Bold, I hope you, the reader, will find this useful information about the Challenges we face in the coming year.
Jack I know you voted No on the House Healthcare Bill. You were one of the Congressman that held many meetings on the subject last summer and again this fall during recesses; What reform in the Healthcare management/Insurance industry could you support?
I had the opportunity to hold 19 town halls across Southeast Georgia last year. While some complained of angry mobs, I was greeted by concerned Americans who truly want what’s best for our country. I saw angst not anger.
The problem with the current proposals is that they do nothing to address the underlying issues affecting health care in America. Rather than fix the problem, the bills place a new bureaucracy on top of our existing system that I believe could crush our economy. I do, however, think there are a number of things we could do to reform health care and on which I think we could reach bipartisan support.
The first step is to promote healthy living. If we as a nation cut back on indulgences of eating, smoking and drinking too much we can save billions without the federal government getting involved. We should also stop frivolous lawsuits which drive up the cost of medicine by hundreds of millions of dollars each year. We need to inject market forces into the system as well. As we’ve seen with Lasik and plastic surgery, competition and transparency in pricing drive prices down.
As for the insurance industry, we should allow small businesses to pool together to get the same purchasing power as huge corporations like Coca Cola and Home Depot. We also need to equalize the tax code so individuals purchasing insurance have the same rights and privileges as those who get their insurance through their employer. Another proposal I support would be to give tax credits to make purchasing health care more affordable and creating state-based high risk pools to help those individuals who would otherwise not be able to purchase insurance.
Retired Military over age 65 have two healthcare programs in so far as they are automatically signed up for Medicare, and Tri-care for life. Even this though is seen as a broken promise to many of us who when we enlisted and then repeatedly during our careers were guaranteed Healthcare for us and our families for life. This was one of the reasons cited for the low pay we received, and the promise has not only been broken but now seems with the new legislation to be heading for increasing costs by more than $200.00 a year for Veterans under these programs. Will you be addressing this issue in the coming debates over the consolidated Senate/House Bill?
We can never repay the debt to those who’ve served but we should ensure that they have access to quality health care. I’ve worked to expand access through increasing the number of community-based outpatient clinics (CBOCs) in our district. We’ve got one opened in St. Mary’s with more on the way in Brunswick and Hinesville as well as a rural clinic on the way in Waycross.
With respect to the $200 increase, that is actually part of a larger group of recommendations that the Congressional Budget Office put together during the health care debate in order to fund Speaker Pelosi’s health care plan. It is a suggestion, not an actual legislative proposal, and I would work against increasing costs for our veterans especially in this time of economic hardship.
What efforts are you undertaking to bring transparency to the House Senate healthcare Negotiations?
Then-Senator Barack Obama promised repeatedly on the campaign trail to bring in the cameras so the American people “know what’s going on.” Yet congressional leaders like Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid have scoffed at the idea of letting the American people know what’s going on behind closed doors. These are the people who’ve negotiated deals with the pharmaceutical industry, big labor, and individuals like Ben Nelson (D-NE) and Mary Landrieu (D-LA).
I’ve cosponsored and signed a petition to force a vote on a bipartisan resolution which would require Pelosi, Reid and Obama to live up to the promise made on the campaign trail and let the people see what’s happening by putting the negotiations in CSPAN.
Jack you have been a consistent and great supporter of our troops in Afghanistan and Iraq. Do you think the War on Terror has been managed correctly? Do you see a day when the objectives will be met and a withdrawal can be accomplished? What will be the definition of success?
I think mistakes have been made in the War on Terror. However, under the leadership of General Petraeus and now General Odierno, I think we’ve turned the corner in Iraq. Under the withdrawal agreement signed by President Bush, we’re pulling out in a responsible manner and leaving the country strengthened.
In Afghanistan, we face an uphill climb and I’m worried that the strategy there is being dominated by political operatives in the White House rather than General McChrystal on the ground.
We have to keep in mind, though, that the War on Terror isn’t limited to two countries – it is worldwide. I think the American people need to reassess where we believe our role to be. I favor a strategy of engaging the enemy and keeping them scattered but I also believe there’s an argument to be made for pulling out of these far flung places and focus only on thwarting attacks, rather than preventing them from ever occurring.
Should we be closing GITMO?
Absolutely not. Guantanamo houses dangerous individuals who were caught on the battlefield trying to kill Americans. Hastily releasing them for the purpose of satisfying knee-jerk campaign promises could threaten American lives. Keep in mind that two individuals released from Guantanamo by the Bush Administration now lead Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the group which claims to have masterminded the Christmas Day bombing attempt. If President Obama wishes to shift course from the Bush Administration, I’d say this would be a good place to start.
Furthermore, the President should use taxpayer dollars to protect the American people not to bring a hardened terrorist like Khalid Sheik Mohammed to American soil and to pay for his defense. KSM masterminded the 9-11 terrorist attacks and does not deserve such treatment.
We disagree on the issue of TARP funding, though I think it went too far with GM and Chrysler, I honor the fact that you stand by your votes, (Jack Voted NO) and would ask what you saw as the scenario had the TARP legislation not been passed?
We’ll never know what would have happened without the intervention but I reject the premise that, as President Bush said, we can ‘give up free market principles to save the free market.’ I don’t think the government had any business getting involved in the first place and I think Congress set a dangerous precedent.
Despite the fact that many of the banks have paid back their TARP funds, President Obama now wants a new bank tax to slap on any bank that received the funding. To me, that shows how far off course we’ve gone.
Do you think Ben Bernanke and Tim Geithner are the right people for the jobs of Fed Chairman and Treasury Secretary? Please tell us why.
I do not think they’re the right choice. Both men have been involved in all of our recent financial missteps and should be replaced.
With respect to Chairman Bernanke, I think we need more transparency at the Fed. I fully support the Audit the Fed movement and think we need to be concerned about how they’re making decisions and where the money is going.
I also think it’s questionable to have Secretary Geithner in place. As then-President of the New York Federal Reserve Bank, he stood watch as the city burned. Now we’re seeing emails showing that there was coordination to keep facts about the AIG bailout secret from the American people and I think that’s extremely concerning.
Given the first stimulus plan hasn’t worked, do you think we need another one?
There’s a misconception in Washington that the way to solve a problem is to pass a new law or implement a new regulation. If we’re going to stimulate the economy, we need to bring confidence back to the market. The way to do that isn’t through more government spending; it’s through restoring faith in the hundreds of millions of consumers and producers which make up our economy. A good first step to doing that would be to repeal the “stimulus” and using that money to pay down the debt. We need to focus on easing the credit crunch among community banks as well as provide targeted tax relief to small businesses and working families.
What does the government need to do at this point to stimulate jobs?
To create jobs, we need to provide targeted tax relief to working families and small businesses. By letting people keep their money in the first place to spend as they wish, we’d do a lot more for the economy than cycling it through Washington and taking a cut at every pass.
We also need to tear down obstacles to growth. With every proposal before Congress we see proposals for more taxes, new regulations and new government mandates all of which are impediments to those who would want to expand their businesses.
One of our biggest problems in Georgia right
now is that credit from small community banks is almost frozen. We need
to get the government out of the way and let these banks get back to
On to CAP and Trade. What are your thoughts on the EPA designating CO2 Emissions as harmful and therefore subject to regulation?
I think we have a moral duty to be good stewards of our environment and to conserve it for future generations. We cannot, however, afford to impose a new tax that will kill millions of jobs on questionable science. Keep in mind that just thirty years ago, Newsweek’s cover reported of a coming ice age because that was the scientific consensus at the time.
That said, I’ve signed onto a lawsuit seeking to block the EPA from implementing any rule based on the designation of CO2 as a dangerous pollutant. It’s as if the Administration is playing “Good Cop, Bad Cop” as in ‘if you think Congress’ way is bad, just see what the EPA’s got in store for you.’ The rush to push through a new regulation while ignoring ‘Climategate’ and the growing data confirming no massive global warming exists, smacks of desperation.
You’ve also got to keep in mind that the best science available shows that if all the steps outlined in the Kyoto protocol and the proposal passed by the House, the global temperature MAY be affected by reducing the temperature slightly less than 1 degree C in 100 years.
Is any one in congress still pushing for increased US oil exploration and development or do we have to wait for $120 per Barrel Oil for that to come up again?
Yes, I continue to advocate for an ‘all of the above’ energy approach. Recently, the Department of Interior announced that it would begin studying the Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf which, until 2008, was under an exploration moratorium for nearly 30 years. That’s the first step toward opening that area up to American energy production and one that I support.
Why are we not supporting Natural Gas as an alternative fuel?
Natural gas is a clean source of American energy and one that should be part of our nation’s energy policy. As I said before, I support ‘all of the above’ energy. We should responsibly use those resources available to us while at the same time developing new, renewable sources of energy.
What about Nuclear Power?
I fully support nuclear power as a clean way to power America. Right now, one in four Americans get their power from nuclear energy. Meanwhile, three in four get their power that way in France. America is getting left behind and we need to catch up. I’m encouraged that the Administration has signaled its support for Georgia Power’s efforts to expand nuclear energy production.
Since these questions were submitted to Mr Kingston, President Obama has signed off on Government loan guarantees for Southern Company (SO) to build two new Nuclear Plants in Burke Ga.,
Do you or the Republican Party have a Plan for Energy Independence that does not include new taxes?
We do. Republicans have introduced the American Energy Act (HR 2846) which pursues an ‘all of the above’ approach to America’ energy policy. It sets a goal of bringing 100 new nuclear reactors online over the next twenty years by streamlining the approval process. It creates the Renewable and Alternative Energy Trust Fund to provide funding for energy programs using receipts from expanded oil and gas leasing.
It would spur development of alternative fuels by
removing roadblocks to bring them to the market. It makes permanent tax
credits for renewable energy. It opens the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS)
to safe American energy production. Finally, it’d provide tax
incentives to businesses and homeowners who improve their energy
Is there anything else you would like to tell our readers?
I’m hopeful for America’s future and, while there’s a lot of pessimism and angst out there, I think we can come back from the current economic crisis. As Winston Churchill once said, “America will always do the right thing, but only after exhausting all other options."
I also hope you’re readers will get involved in a new project I’m working on to form a new agenda for America’s future. It is my goal to bypass the Washington establishment insiders, the pollsters and the know-it-all pundits to go directly to the people. I would like to take your ideas and those of thousands of other people to form a grassroots platform. Joining me in this effort are 7 other congressmen who are fed up with the status quo. It is our hope to enlist hundreds of other congressmen to make this a huge effort.
But for now I’d like your ideas. This will start like a conversation between two friends sitting down with a note pad to make a “To-Do” list. To start the conversation, visit http://kingston.house.gov/todo.
A note from HMRJMR1
I recently visited the above link and put many more ideas and questions in to the hopper. I would strongly suggest you follow the link below and contact your congressional representative and find out if he/she is part of this initiative. Either way, Jack has not limited his quest for ideas to the 1st District in Georgia, so feel free to engage in the debate and shape the ideas of the future. Our nation depends on we the people, each of us independently doing our part, but collectively finding the answers to the problems of the day and moving forward into the future.
A Hammer Jammer Challenge!!
I challenge you the reader to look up your congressman and or senator and request a similar interview and publish it here on Hub Pages. Use the link below to contact your rep and lets get the national debate for this years elections started here and now!! When you do, email me and I will post a link here as well.
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