I love my adopted home state of Georgia. Love it. The people, the culture, and the geography all combine into a perfect storm of Southern Charm, and there aren’t many places I’d rather be. However, I will admit that at certain times it can be difficult to deal with the Peach State GOP’s tendency to act like Democrats. It’s not completely their fault, most of the state’s older GOP leaders were Democrats some 20-30 years ago, and the BIG government answers still ring true in their ears. For this reason, I’m not a big fan of some of our most important GOP leaders – men like, Nathan Deal, [score]Johnny Isakson[/score], and [score]David Perdue[/score] are all solid social conservatives but they’re also (usually) big(ger) government moderates.
However, on certain fiscal issues, they can sometimes be surprisingly conservatives. For example, David Perdue has a Conservative Review Liberty Score of 69% (not good) but when it comes to balancing the budget and cutting taxes… Perdue has a lot of good things to say. He recently sat down with the folks at Georgia Trend magazine to discuss his work in Washington, D.C. and we’ve brought you some of the highlights below.
GT: You didn’t waste any time introducing some bills of your own.
Perdue: I come from a business point where you have to operate with a sense of urgency to survive. The first week up here, I put in a bill that would require the federal government to develop a balanced budget. I put a FairTax bill in. And maybe most importantly, I put a bill in that would put term limits in the Senate and the House. You can imagine the response that got.
GT: Why is a balanced budget so important?
Perdue: I saw the total dysfunction of the budget process. We pass the budget and still have an authorization process and an appropriation process that did not work last year and pushed us into a year-end grand bargain where all appropriation bills get put together. I voted against that authorization because it added to the debt. This year we’ve got to begin to work diligently to reinvent the budget process so that it begins to work and gives us a way to solve this debt crisis.
GT: What about spending?
Perdue: We have to cut spending. We have several hundred billion dollars of redundant agencies up here. I believe we’ve got to save Social Security and Medicare. Those are the 800-pound gorillas in the room, because those costs explode over the next 10 years.
The Congressional Budget Office just put out their biannual report on the state of the economy. They project we will grow from $19 trillion in debt today to almost $30 trillion over the next 10 years. That’s not manageable. The interest on that alone if we were at a 50-year average is almost $1.5 trillion. It’s unconscionable that we’ve gotten ourselves in this situation.
GT: Those numbers can be hard to grasp. How do you get people to relate?
Perdue: It’s $1 million for every family in America – like your credit card bill that the government has given every single family. When interest rates were zero, nobody was paying attention. If interest rates start growing it will be a front-page conversation, and it won’t go away. If interest rates go up any at all, we won’t be able to pay the interest…
GT: Is that coming from your business perspective?
Perdue: Four words we had in business, we’d hear it all the time: We cannot afford it. I haven’t heard that one time in Washington. Those are four words I’m trying to inject into the vocabulary in Washington.
GT: You’ve said our debt affects national security. Would you explain?
Perdue: As a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, I traveled internationally extensively last year. I met privately with many heads of states. I had a private one-on-one with Prime Minister Netanyahu in Israel. I talked with many of our military leaders in Afghanistan, Iraq, Asia and the Pacific. These are the conclusions: We have been in a war for almost 14 years. We have used and abused our equipment. We’re about to have, because of cutbacks under this administration, the smallest Army since World War II, the smallest Navy since World War I and the smallest Air Force ever. When you look at our ability to recapitalize and rebuild, there is no money in the budget to do that. Money in the budget right now just basically maintains the status quo. It doesn’t replace a lot of this stuff that’s been used up. We’re also using up our soldiers, with longer assignments, longer offshore duty. I’m really, really concerned about that.
GT: Let’s talk about the economy.
Perdue: To solve the debt crisis, we have to grow the economy. That’s what I hear more than anything else in Georgia. We have a significant number of people who are hurting in Georgia because of the way this administration has taken for granted our free enterprise system. Our tax structure, our regulatory system, is sucking the very life out of our free enterprise system and really damaging our competitiveness around the world.
GT: What do you propose?
Perdue: These are the priorities I see. Our tax structure is archaic. It is manipulated and creates an unbalanced playing field with the rest of the world. Our corporate tax rate is [one of] the highest in the world. We still [have] this ridiculous repatriation tax. [Editor’s Note: a tax imposed on assets held in a foreign country when they are brought back to the U.S.] Fixing those two things immediately and over time talking about how we fund things, changing the way we fund our government. I put a FairTax bill in, and I believe that’s the best way to go. That takes time. Meantime, we need to change our corporate tax rate and eliminate our repatriation tax.
GT: You have been critical of the regulatory environment.
Perdue: Somebody said, “David, what would you go after first?” It doesn’t matter – just pick an acronym up here in Washington and go after it – EPA, NLRB, IRS, CFPB. We have a God-given boom in energy, and yet because of government regulation we are not able to take advantage of that. There’s an energy bill before us now. We passed one last year. There are some encouraging signs; we’re heading in the right direction.