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2013-02-28

Smith discusses 2nd Amendment, sequestration

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

(Editor's Note: The second part of this discussion will continue in the Thursday, March 7, edition of the Bandera County Courier. Additionally, Congressman Lamar Smith will meet with his Bandera County constituents from 11:30 am to 12:30 pm, Friday, March 1, at the Silver Sage Corral Community Center, 803 Buck Creek Boulevard. The community is invited.)

In the middle of his discussion with the Boerne Tea Party Patriots on Tuesday, Feb. 19, Congressman Lamar Smith had what has become known as "a Marco Rubio Moment." That is to say, out of necessity, he reached for water that wasn't there. However, a cup was produced in rapid order and the discussion about the Second Amendment continued.
At that point, one wag in the audience observed, "You notice, Congressman Smith, you started choking right after someone mentioned Chuck Schumer's name." Schumer, a Democrat senator from New York has been a thorn in the side of conservatives for years.
Acknowledging the coincidence with a laugh, Smith observed, "Republicans are right to worry about Schumer," whom he described as a smart man - as well as a constant proponent of draconian gun control measures. To a question about universal background checks, Smith said that less than 2 percent of the firearms sold at gun shows are used to commit crimes. He also said that licensed firearms dealers who sell at gun shows have always been required to do the background checks.
Smith also took the opportunity to explain how Republicans can effectively counter Democrat attacks. "Republicans need to talk people, not policy. That will help us identify with the people and the voters."
As an example, he pointed to newly elected Texas Senator Ted Cruz's answer when queried about his stance on gun control. "Ted did a masterful job. Instead of going into policy like I would have, he simply said that he didn't want 'a single mother living next to a crack house to lose her right to have a gun to protect her family.' Ted Cruz is off to a great start."
Clearly proud of his A+ rating from the National Rifle Association, Smith recalled his participation in a subcommittee on crime while just a second term national legislator in a House controlled by the Democrats. "I seemed to be the only representative on the panel who was familiar with firearms at all. So, I asked a couple of questions of the witness who favored gun control." Since the witness was not able to answer Smith's questions to anyone's satisfaction, the Democrats pulled the proposed legislation. "I became the NRA Legislator of the Year," Smith said. "I still have my plaque."
Regarding other controversial issues, Smith opined that the sequestration proposed by Obama would be enacted. An across-the-board $85 million dollar budget cut set to go into effect on Friday, March 1, the act would cut the Department of Defense by 17 percent with other departments experiencing 6 percent reductions, according to Smith. Additionally, for the next nine years, sequestration would generate automatic cuts for fiscal years 2013 through 2021, totaling $1.2 trillion.
"This will probably be our only opportunity for spending cuts in the Obama Administration," Smith said. "Sequestration was the president's idea, but now, instead of spending cuts, the White House is proposing more taxes."
Smith explained that once sequestration takes place, another vote would likely pave the way for "re-positioning." "Each department would be asked to come up with reasonable cuts rather than across-the-board ones," he said, adding, "but that doesn't mean we should pre-empt sequestration."
As one member of the audience pointed out, the $85 billion in government cuts doesn't look like so much when compared with the $60 billion recently allocated for Hurricane Sandy damages. "It makes the money for Hurricane Sandy look extravagant, which it was," Smith said, who voted against the appropriations.
He predicted Republicans would "hold firm on the $85 billion." Although Republicans can't enact all the spending cuts they would like, he noted that people yearn for a balanced budget rather than borrowing 40 cents for every dollar spend. "We should be able to balance the federal budget more than once a generation. The last time it happened was during the Clinton Administration and before that the Eisenhower Administration."

Pictured: Bob Reinarz & Rep. Lamar Smith