June 4, 2017

CULLMAN – The Cullman County Republican Party held its monthly breakfast meeting at the Cullman Elks Club Saturday morning, welcoming speakers from the Cullman County Commission, as well as the region’s state and federal legislative delegations.  The keynote speaker was U.S. Rep. Morris “Mo” Brooks of north Alabama’s 5th Congressional District, who is seeking the U.S. Senate seat currently occupied by Sen. Luther Strange, in this fall’s special election. The primary is set for Aug. 15, with the election set for Dec. 12.

“Right now, the Senate is the primary stumbling block to us making constructive improvements to the challenges that we face,” Brooks told The Tribune before the meeting.  “Over the last session of Congress, the House worked hard and sent over 500 constructive bills that the Senate didn’t even bother to vote on.  Right now, the Senate, because our Republicans refuse to restrict the abilities of the Democrats, have ceded to the Democrats the ability to block all of our legislation with the exception of one per year that can get through the Senate on a majority vote by an arcane process known as budget reconciliation.  The senators who should be fighting to reverse some of the bad policies of previous administrations have allowed the Democrats, a minority in the United States Senate, to kill all the things that we try to push to improve our country.”

Before Brooks addressed the meeting, local party chairman Waid Harbison invited a few others to address the audience.  James Bolin announced his candidacy for the District 9 State House seat that Ed Henry will vacate next year.

Next came County Commissioners Kerry Watson and Garry Marchman.  Watson spoke briefly about the commission’s efforts to repair and repave roads, taking time also to compliment County employees and the County budget, which he says has been in the black for three years.  Marchman focused on the need to develop technology and recruit industry to the county, in order to fund County projects.

Rep. Randall Shedd, R-Fairview and Sen. Paul Bussman, R-Cullman gave updates on legislative activities in Montgomery.

According to Shedd, “I thought the most important thing we could do this time was to restore the public’s confidence, after all the things our state government has been through in the last couple of years, with the former speaker and the governor’s situation and all that.  I think we’ve gone a long way toward restoring the people’s confidence; we have a great speaker of the house now, and I think Gov. Ivey’s doing a great job correcting the ship of state.  Hopefully, people’s confidence will be restored before very long.”

He then talked about legislative accomplishments, pointing to pro-life and pro-military/veteran legislation, while blaming Democrats for filibusters and stalling actions that have prevented more from being done.

Bussman said, “We got both budgets passed; we got a tremendous education budget this time.  The general fund survived again, on life support, but it did.  We got the redistricting done again.”

The senator went on to talk about how the Republicans in the state legislature were able to shut down the efforts of what he called “the largest lobbying group” (though he did not name the group) to influence lawmaking, saying it “got run over like a Mack truck.”

State Rep. Will Ainsworth, R-Guntersville announced his candidacy for lieutenant governor.

“We’ve got to have ethics again,” Ainsworth said.  “I signed the impeachment articles of the governor, because I saw what went on there.  I’ve introduced a term limits bill, and believe we need new blood in office.  I introduced recall legislation that would hold elected officials in check.”

Ainsworth went on to talk about the need for improvements in public education, including technology initiatives, industry partnerships in career technology, and reviving the reading initiative begun under former Gov. Bob Riley.  He also touched on the need to recruit industries to the state.

When Brooks took the floor, he shared information about himself and his career before settling into a presentation on what he considers to be the most crucial problem facing the country today: rising national debt.

“This one is the biggest threat to your country, and there’s not a close second,” said Brooks.  “At 2023, they’re (the Congressional Budget Office) telling us, if we don’t change our financial path, that we’re going to embark on a series of trillion dollar deficits, quite frankly, until the United States of America, your country, goes into a debilitating insolvency and bankruptcy.

“A lot of people, particularly on the Democrat side, they don’t get it.  They think all we have to do is just print more and more money, and that’ll take care of it.  That is false, that is dangerous, but that is the argument they use.”

He argued that uncontrolled national debt could bankrupt the United States within the next generation, creating a situation that would detrimentally affect national defense, public services like education, employment rates and even public health.  Citing other examples of national economic collapse like Venezuela, where 75 percent of the adult population weighs 19 pounds less than before the collapse, Brooks explained that a national economic crisis would find its way down to individual citizens in dangerous ways.

“They can’t get the food and they can’t get the calories to sustain their body weight,” said Brooks.  “Their people are, slowly but surely, starving.  That is what happens when you go through a national insolvency and bankruptcy.

“We’re getting all these warnings from people we pay a whole lot of money to, and y’all know in your hearts and in your heads that this is wrong, what’s going on.  Basically, what is happening in Washington D.C. is, in order to live the high life today, we are stealing from our kids and our grandkids, and their future tomorrow.”

Brooks said that he supports legislation that supports free enterprise for economic growth, since such growth produces more tax revenue for the government without having to raise taxes.  He also supports limits on foreign aid.

“It’s nice to be generous to the rest of the world,” he stated, “but we’ve got to look at our own house first.  If our own house burns to the ground, we’re not going to be in a position to help anybody.”

Additionally, Brooks advocated cuts to what he termed “wealth transfer programs” that he said currently cost the government around $800 billion per year, and support of programs that put people to work.  He also said that he supports President Trump’s efforts to get strategic allies around the world to shoulder more of the cost of military spending.  Lastly, he promoted strong controls on both legal and illegal immigration, to make sure that American-born workers have every opportunity to find good jobs.

The candidate concluded a question and answer session by sharing his view that the Affordable Healthcare Act should be repealed, but that the recently recommended Republican replacement failed to provide a viable alternative.  He said he supported the idea of sending healthcare funds to the individual states, where their legislatures would decide how funds would be spent locally, and said that the federal government’s role in the health insurance industry should be primarily the promotion of free market competition that typically drives quality up and costs down.

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