If the White House wants to jump- start the economy, U.S. Rep. John Duncan, Jr., said it should simply revert back to the spending plan used in the 2007 federal budget.
Duncan, in town Wednesday to address the Blount County Chamber, said every area of the federal budget must be cut.
“If we are ever going to get out of this hole, we have to find ways to cut everything,” he said. “If we went back to the 2007 spending limits, we would balance the budget. There are things you can do to make this country boom beyond belief.”
The veteran lawmaker said that for too long, members of both political parties in Congress have tried to be the “good guys” who never said “no” to spending measures. “It’s always easy to run as Santa Claus and awfully hard to run against him,” Duncan said. “You just have some people who can’t say, ‘No.’”
Duncan said that in the first two years of the Obama administration, the government ran up more debt than in the first 197 years of the country’s history. “Nobody is willing to vote against anything.”
Duncan said that while many U.S. House/Senate districts are seeing large numbers of people move out, especially in states with a state income tax, Blount County has continued to be one of the most popular places to move to and fortunately, the recession doesn’t appear to have hit it as badly.
“Hopefully we’ll come out of it better. We will do well as long as we remain a low tax state,” he said.
Duncan said half the people who live in this area have moved here from somewhere else. “This area and state will continue to attract people. In part that is because there is no state income tax. We need to be careful not to let happen here what happened in states like California and New York,” he said of states that adopted a state income tax.
The representative recalled how years ago then New York Gov. Mario Cuomo criticized states like Tennessee for not having a state income tax. “My dad told him, ‘I’ve never heard of anyone retiring to New York,” Duncan said.
Duncan was asked about funding to complete the Foothills Parkway into Sevier County from Walland. The congressman said funding for the National Park has increased each year he has been in office because it has continued to grow in popularity and is the most visited National Park.
The lawmaker said a new federal highways bill needs to be passed soon. “You’ve got a backlog now, and there are going to be demands all over the country,” he said.
Duncan was asked his thoughts on subsidizing solar energy panels for homes and businesses to make electricity cheaper. The lawmaker said he supports solar energy production, just not through federal subsidies. Duncan added that the federal government has sunk billions of subsidy dollars into solar energy production since the 1970s, and the industry has never delivered like it should.
Duncan said solar energy production should be underwritten by private industry and investors. “Every dollar you spend invest in private industry creates more jobs,” he said. “At some point, solar energy is going to have to go it on its own.”
Regarding his predictions on who will run for president in 2012, Duncan said he and other lawmakers ate lunch with political consultant Dick Morrison recently. While Duncan said he continues to be impressed with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney the political consultant said Romney wouldn’t run and former Gov. Sarah Palin couldn’t win.
“Morrison also did not think it would be (former Arkansas governor) Mike Huckabee because he is enjoying so much success with his television show that he’s lost the fire in the belly,” Duncan said. “Morrison did say we should look at several of the governors (as potential presidential candidates).”
The lawmaker said he is concerned about illegal immigration and the practice of people illegally crossing the border to give birth, thus using an “anchor baby” who is a natural born citizen even though the parents aren’t. “I think the laws you should have are that if people are here illegally, they should not be given the same rights as those here legally,” he said.
Duncan said everyone in his office support legal immigration. “Half the world gets by on $2 a day and one good meal. You sympathize with that, but we allow in four million a year. There’s no other country in the history of the world that allows that much. I don’t object to legal immigration, just slow it down. Our infrastructure can not withstand the rapid influx.”