WINNSBORO — A healthy skepticism of the government is a good thing, according to fiscal hawk Congressman Mick Mulvaney who spoke in a town hall meeting Tuesday night at the Fairfield County government complex.
After an overview of the fiscal cliff, a payroll tax increase resulting from the Affordable Care Act, gun control and executive orders from President Obama and sequestration, Mulvaney opened the floor for questions.
Mulvaney spoke in favor of budgetary hawk policies and fiscal conservatism. He extolled the no labels group in Washington, D.C., that he said promotes good governance, accountability, ethics, transparency and supports his efforts at a bill that would prevent Congress from being paid if its members could not produce a balanced budget, which the law required them to do each year already.
With sequestration Jeff Betsch mentioned how he was laid off from his job as a result of defense cuts and that led Kevin Thomas to ask how Mulvaney thought the Department of Defense could reduce its budget while saving people’s jobs.
Mulvaney said he understands the military by the status of its mission and he also understands the military is a business, that bases are managed like a business. He said the Air Force did things like closing the base swimming pool and movie theatre to help save costs.
But Mulvaney worries about the Air Force in particular because he said pilots want to fly. With squadrons being grounded to save money, some of those pilots might consider getting out of the Air Force to fly commercially. He mentioned the problem the military has, much like the U.S. Postal Service, of having to fund large pensions and health care obligations.
David Ferguson, chairman of the Fairfield County Council, thanked Mulvaney for his assistance with the Army Corps of Engineers water study for the county when it appeared sequestration might hinder those efforts.
Mulvaney said he had met with the Army Corps of Engineers, that things were moving ahead of schedule and that he was pleased with how the town of Winnsboro and the county worked together in that process.
Mulvaney became excited by what he termed a “New Fair Deal” by which conservatives reclaim the word fair in political discourse.
He argued that the current tax system is unfair with just 53 percent of adults paying some income tax compared to 88 percent paying some income tax in 1960s. He believes that stake in government made them more aware of politics.
He also predicted the political battle over the debt ceiling to be the battle of the political year, particularly efforts at entitlement reform.
Mulvaney also voiced serious reservations about implications of the Affordable Care Act that are set to begin in January 2014. He is concerned over the role that independent payment advisory boards will have in determining what amount of a medical procedure is paid by insurance for a particular demographic.
He noted other countries have officials who determine they will spend more on a hip replacement for someone in their 50s than for someone in their 80s.
The health care system in the United States does not currently work that way, but Mulvaney said he retains a healthy skepticism toward a politically appointed 15-person board since, in theory, none of the members have to be physicians.
He believes Obamacare is the first step to a single pay government controlled insurance system and sees his role as a congressman, as he is able, to try and show people how it impacts them individually as well as the country collectively.
The night meant a lot to high school senior Campbell Johnson of the Woodard community just outside of Winnsboro. A home-schooled student, she and her parents attended the event.
“I wanted to come because my parents come to these kinds of things a lot and I felt like coming and hearing his views,” she said. She is interested in a career in politics and plans to study history at the University of South Carolina to prepare her for that end.
The town hall meetings are an annual event for Mulvaney, who has been across the state meeting various constituents.