Headline News
Go Back
2013-03-14

Smith - one man, one vote in Congress

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

During his short hiatus from Washington, DC, United States District 21 Rep. Lamar Smith spent time in the Texas Hill Country, keeping everyone abreast of the shenanigans going on "Inside the Beltway." He spoke to his Bandera County constituents on Friday, March 1.
'Sequester Friday'
"Well, it's 'Sequester Friday' and the world hasn't ended yet," Smith quipped. Quickly getting back to business, however, he took exception to something that President Barack Obama had said in a press conference held earlier that day.
"He said the sequester came about because of 'the choices Republicans made.' Nothing could be further from the truth. There's so much misinformation being put out there."
As Smith explained, the sequester was originally the president's idea; the House has passed two budgets while the Senate has not produced even one; and the president has come up with no solution. "The Senate won't fulfill its legal responsibilities," Smith said.
"These cuts are not draconian. Of a $1.3 trillion budget, only $85 million is being cut. That's a 2.3 percent cut - and Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are exempt," he said. "Spending has increased 17 percent in the last three years. This could have been avoided had the president and Senate come up with a sensible substitute for sequestration."
Had anyone in DC enquired, Smith's own "sensible solutions" would have included: cutting off the $2.2 billion in free cell phones, divesting unused buildings owned by the federal government, cutting travel on the federal level by a quarter, halving foreign aid and going out for competitive bidding.
Congressional gridlock
When asked why the House of Representatives doesn't do something about the gridlock, Smith reminded everyone that Obama has a megaphone, which he uses from his "bully pulpit" the presidency. And media bias that favors the administration helps the Democrats, Smith added.
"The House is just one-third of the government. I know you're frustrated but Republicans are outgunned two to one," he said. "I'm glad we finally drew the line on sequestration. It was avoidable but we had no help from the White House or Senate. We have to cut spending," Smith said. "I hope and pray that sooner or later the American people see through this."
Given that, however, he assured those present, "The House acts as a firewall and no more bad legislation, such as Obamacare, will be passed."
Additionally, Smith told his constituents that despite Democrat attempts to seek an exemption, all US Congressmen and Senators now fall under Obamacare - unless they pay for private health insurance.
Homeland Security highjinks?
Regarding what most conservatives see as the latest assault on the Second Amendment, Smith said the Republicans are asking for enforcement of current gun laws - not more laws.
"Nothing being discussed today, no bills being contemplated would have prevented the mass killings that have taken place in the last 10 years," he said. "Democrats are simply making political hay out of tragedy." As for the much-touted proposed ban on assault weapons, Smith said the so-called "assault weapons" are no more than typical semi-automatic 223 rifles.
He also took umbrage that, in anticipation of the coming sequester, some governmental agency - no one has yet owned up to the decision - had approved the release of thousands of criminal illegal alien detainees. "This decision was beyond irresponsible, it was reckless and the administration is getting bad publicity because of it." As Smith noted, "The move blew up in the president's face and for the first time, he's getting criticized by the press."
As many as 17,000 detainees, who had been incarcerated for "murder, rape, on down," were released into communities across the nation, according to Smith. "And Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano apparently knew nothing about it," he added. "I'd like to subpoena her and get her before a House oversight committee. The administration must be held accountable."
Several of those present brought up the fact that the Department of Homeland Security is currently buying up millions - or perhaps billions - of rounds of ammunition from manufacturers.
Smith said every five years, the federal government purchases ammunition for military and law enforcement training purposes and this year's purchases do not seem out of line. When queried further, Smith admitted his staff had not gone back to double check the amount purchased during previous buy ups. He promised concerned constituents he would do further research.
"Hollow point bullets are expensive and are not used for training," said George Hamilton. "If they're coming after me, I want to be shot with a solid metal jacket."
1996 redux?
In response to a question about yet another debate on the debt ceiling, which is coming up the end of March, Smith said the House had already approved the government continuing to function but at a lesser cost, "but the Senate won't agree. In 1996, under Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, I voted to shut down the government. We went to the barricades. A year later we lost 19 members. It's taken us this long to get a 16 seat majority," Smith said.
However, some participants favored "going to the barricades" again, saying, "We'll get blamed no matter what."
When House Republicans were accused of not doing enough to counteract the president and Democrats," Smith responded, "I've released 300 news releases in the last year. I've written 150 letters to editors and 100 op-ed pieces, as well as saying 'No' hundreds and hundreds of times. The president is misusing his power and undermining the Constitution, but I'm only one person with one vote, who is being stymied by the Senate and White House."
He continued, "A popular revolution must start with the American people because it won't start in Washington."

Pictured: Texas Congressman Lamar Smith spoke with constituent Stan Johnson, 98, of Pipe Creek, who served in World War II.