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2013-02-14

Settin' stage for future Smith visit

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

A one-person advance team came to town recently to ascertain what constituents the recently re-elected United States District 21 Congressman Lamar Smith "really think."
Outreach coordinator, Logan Chism, Smith's former campaign manager, spoke to the Bandera County Republican Women Friday, Feb. 8. Introducing Chism, BCRW President Kerry Schneider described him as the "go to" person. "If you call, he's there with answers," she said.
Disgruntled GOP
During his short presentation, Chism identified questions and concerns for Smith to address during a future stop in Bandera County. In fact, Chism got such an earful from disgruntled local conservatives that his notebook might be overflowing with worries from the discontented.
"If I can't answer on behalf of Congressman Smith, I will have an answer for you within 24 hours," he told the small crowd of clearly fed up participants.
From the questions that emerged early in Chism's presentation, it appeared as though local Republican's are "mad as hell" and disinclined to take it anymore. Additionally, much like the one referred to by William Barrett Travis at the Alamo in 1836, they want their national leaders to draw a line in the sand and then be prepared to toe it.
Acknowledging the disappointing results of the recent election, Chism said, "We know a lot of Republican Clubs put out a lot of effort and this was not the result they wanted." Shortly after the re-election of President Barack Obama and the loss of more seats in the Senate, House Republicans went on a retreat to regroup around what has become their main mantra - the rising national debt.
Rising debt
Regarding the debt, Smith had previously sponsored an amendment to the Constitution that would require a balanced budget, but it did not receive the two-thirds majority needed. Chism also discussed Smith's "No Budget, No Pay" resolution, a version of which has already been passed by the Senate. The resolution would require the president to present a budget by April 15.
What is the point, people asked, of more bills and a possible Constitutional amendment when the president is already required by law to present a balanced budget annually? "Do (these alternative) have any teeth in them," one person asked.
"The 'No Budget, No Pay' resolution would act as a catalyst," Chism explained. "We're sending a clear message to the president that the Republicans are doing their part to fulfill their obligations to the American people."
"We had great expectations that the House would stand up to Democrats, but instead they're rolling over," said one annoyed participant, who referenced removal of Tea Party members from Congressional committees. "There's a small war going on in the Republican Party right now."
Chism assured everyone that Smith had no part in ostracizing members of the Tea Party.
'Just pass &
don't move'
"House Republicans are just 'chasing rabbits'," a complainant advised. "All spending bills must originate in the House. Just pass a balanced budge and don't move. The House has the power of the purse regarding the United States government."
Referring to the looming across the board spending cuts, Chism said, "Democrats are using the sequester to apply political pressure, but Congressman Smith is prepared to make the cuts necessary to resolve the national debt - even if those cuts are painful."
"Cutting off funding is the best step," noted a GOP stalwart.
Others opined that something should be done about the President of the United States undermining this nation's laws. "Can anyone hold the president accountable when he doesn't abide by the law?"
Reiterating that the last thing Washington, DC needs is "another law," Karen Harris said, "I'm trying to say this diplomatically, but the people are not stupid. But perhaps we're considered stupid when we see the same things happening over and over again. The people know what's going on. We know when things aren't getting done. We do understand it and we're looking at the people we've elected to do the job on Capitol Hill."
Harris asked, "How is Congress planning to reshape the dialog in DC that's giving conservatives such bad press? We're not getting our conservative message out if we're being blamed for the budget crisis. How can we reshape and articulate our message?"
Chism acknowledged that media bias was a "huge factor" in the last two elections.
Immigration & racism
Speaking about another hot topic, coming assaults on the Second Amendment, Chism felt the gun control measure from Senator Dianne Fenstein of California would probably not make it out of the Senate. "There's too many Democrats living in Blue Dog states that have A+ ratings from the NRA," he said.
On immigration, Chism said a recently released study by the Office of Homeland Security noted that only 44 percent of America's southern border is secure. "Enforcing the law is problematic. According to a study by the Heritage Foundation, if amnesty occurs now, the cost to American taxpayers would be $2.6 trillion in extra taxes - and unemployment would jump to 15 percent."
"With regard to immigration, we need to reshape platforms within the Republican Party. Right now, we're being (portrayed) by the media as racist. The conversation, which seems to be always about Mexicans, should be broadened to 'illegals'," Harris said.
To a direct question, Sheriff Dan Butts said that his department does not routinely seek out illegal immigrants. "However, if we discover an illegal during the transmission of another crime, we contact the proper authorities."
Former Precinct 3 Commissioner Richard Keese might have put everything into perspective when he said, "Priorities have to be set. The deficit is the big problem and DC is not addressing the problem."
For the most part, questions on the burgeoning deficit, the administration's immigration policies, the media's apparent successful and unabated attacks on the GOP and the gun control debate, as well as Benghazi, Fast & Furious and the decision to sell F-16 fighter jets to Egypt, remained unanswered during Chism's 90-minutes behind the podium, but a dialogue was opened.
In her closing remarks, Schneider said, "We know Congressman Smith is on the front lines and people are shouting at him. But, if he doesn't stay, we're the ones who will get shot in the back."