Congressman Rob Wittman (R-Williamsburg) spoke to the College Republicans last night about his time in Congress, the problems with and his solutions for the government’s economic bailout plan and the Republican Party’s general situation heading into the election in November.
President George W. Bush proposed a bill that would spend $700 billion dollars to buy privately issued security and sell them back later, which failed in the House yesterday. Wittman said that the people of Virginia, as well as much of the rest of the country, did not support the plan.
“We got many calls from our constituents telling us that they were against the bill,” he told the club. “We have to realize that we’re taking money directly from taxpayer’s pockets. The American people won today, because the representatives listened to their constituents.”
Wittman said he had many problems with the provisions of the bill and that it would ultimately create more problems than solutions.
“If you look in the past, the government has over-reacted in many cases, and these over-reactions have created their own set of issues,” he said. “I want to take the time to be deliberate to see where the decision-making went bad.”
Wittman said he disproves of the plan in part because it does not focus on preventing future economic failures.
“There is nothing in the bill to confront the problems we’ve had in the past,” he said.
Wittman also posed questions about the bill’s proposed buying and selling practices.
“I also don’t like how the security is bought and sold. At what prices will these securities be sold in the future? Who’s going to be involved in that? What kind of liability is the U.S. taking on?,” he said. “I voted against the bill, not because I don’t support the government purchasing privately owned businesses, and I think that there are other ways to purchase security. If we purchase the security now, where will this take us in the future?”
The bill puts the country at too much risk in the future, based on previous scenarios, Wittman said.
“Japan went through a crisis similar to ours, and lost a lot of money when they sold the securities,” he said. “The U.S. government is only speculating on the value of these in the future.”
Wittman said the bailout plan is a shortcut and that it would not to fix the mass corruption that contributed to the crisis:
“We need banks to become part of the effect, and teach their customers about debts and managing money,” he said. “We also need to address these issues in schools.”
After the talk, students inquired about other political issues, including the U.S.’s relationship with Iran.
“In the House, we are concerned about Iran’s space program, which we believe is contributing to their creation of a nuclear weapon. We want to see other members of the world, particularly China and Russia, join in on the pressure toward Iran. Military presence is not as effective as diplomatic means,” Wittman said.
He also discussed previous bills he sponsored, including one related to cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay.
“I feel very strongly about the Chesapeake Bay bill, which I have not been very happy about. I put forth a piece of legislation to make government accountable for every penny that has to do with the Chesapeake Bay, in an effort to restore the bay,” he said.
With the election approaching, Wittman touched on some faults of the Republican party in 2006’s midterm elections as well as what they need to do to elect more Republicans.
“The loss was due largely to scandals and the loss of core values in the Republican party,” he said. “What we need to do is bring back the days of Ronald Reagan.”