March 8, 2013

“The President has jumped the shark.”
Scalise and Other Members of the Republican Study Committee Talk About the Administration’s Handling of the Sequester and the GOP Agenda this Year

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Chairman Steve Scalise (LA-1) and four other Members of the House Republican Study Committee appeared before a breakfast meeting of The Ripon Society this past Tuesday morning to discuss, among other issues, the Obama Administration’s handling of the sequester and the GOP agenda this year.

“The President has been flying around the country on Air Force One on a scare tour telling everybody that every food inspector is going to be laid off,” Scalise stated. "But we can’t cut the $24 billion in fraud that we know about the food stamp program. Instead, it’s the meat inspectors that get cut off. Every school teacher and firefighter -- we’ve been combing through the law books to figure out where the President fires and hires school teachers and police officers -- but they don't know that because they all think they're going to get laid off. Yesterday, I went to the airport to fly back to DC. It was literally the shortest wait I’ve had in months. Maybe it’s because the President has just scared everybody off. If you talk to some of the TSA agents -- these are the people that have all the jobs -- they don’t know what to expect from the President.”

“The media has actually started to make fun of the fact that the President is saying a lot of things that are just not true. It reached a crescendo on Saturday Night Live -- which, if you're a Republican and do everything right on a good day, they'll still find a way to make fun of you. If you didn't see it, they actually not only made fun of the President's claims, but it starts off with him threatening all these people. He brings out a construction worker, and by the third person, you realize he's bringing out the Village People. Then they start singing a song, and you know the President has jumped the shark.”

“I think we're at a point where we've finally shifted the debate, and it's important for us now not to overplay our hand. Because when Barack Obama can overplay his hand, it shows you there’s a limit -- where the American public will say, ‘Wait a minute, you're not being serious.’ So we're going to stay focused on what the problem is -- getting not only spending under control, but getting the economy back on track.”

Scalise, who was elected to the House in a special election in May of 2008 and is also a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, is serving his first term as Chairman of the Republican Study Committee. After his remarks, he introduced the four other Members of the Study Committee who were joining him and invited them to the podium to introduce themselves and share their thoughts on the Republican agenda this year. The four Members included U.S. Reps. Alan Nunnelee (MS-1), Billy Long (MO-7), Steve Southerland (FL-2), and Bill Flores (TX-17), who discussed his experience as the owner of an oil and gas exploration company in the Lone Star State.

“I ran and founded a company called Phoenix Exploration,” Flores said. “We grew from a blank sheet of paper to $150 million in revenues in two years, and we've spent about $100 to $125 million a year to invest in American oil and gas. We have about 50 employees and about $6 billion in revenue, which if you do the math is about $120,000 a job. That's how you create a middle class in America. My campaign consultant said don't ever use that analogy again – that it’s too much money. What I know is that we signed every paycheck and helped create over 500 jobs in this country. So I come to Congress with a little bit of a different viewpoint … My goal in Congress is to try to keep us on the big issues -- jobs, the economy, deficits and American energy. We're not going to be terribly successful in getting a lot of our agenda passed -- at least for the next couple of years. But we can still try. We can still keep talking about these big issues and big visions.”

Southerland, who also serves as the sophomore class representative to the House Republican Leadership, sounded a similar note in his remarks, and pointed to one issue in particular that Chairman Scalise has asked him to focus on in 2013.

“Steve has given me the opportunity for the second year in a row to champion and really go after our anti-poverty initiative," the Florida lawmaker stated. "One of the things that's going on in our country that I would say is immoral is that we are just throwing money after poverty. We are making no dent in our efforts. We've spent $15 trillion since LBJ stood up and said we're going to launch a war on poverty. We've spent $15 trillion, and more Americans today are living in poverty than the day he made that statement. We can do better -- we must do better -- and I think that if we don't, then we are guilty of not accomplishing the moral imperative to really give people the opportunity to understand the purpose, the vision and their lives."

In his remarks, Long echoed Southerland’s sentiment about helping the less fortunate, relating a story that an acquaintance had told him about an electrician she came across recently who worked for a living but was still in apparent economic need.

“A friend of mine was in a veterinary office a couple of weeks ago waiting to see the vet,” Long recounted. “She said this guy walks in, and he's in workman clothes. He walks to the counter, and the lady asked him, ‘Can I help you?’ He said, ‘Yes, I'd like to buy heartworm medication for my lab.’ She said, ‘Would you like six months or a year, sir?’ He kind of lowered his voice and said, ‘I'm an electrician and I haven't had as much work lately and just got my truck out of the shop. Is there any way you can just sell me just one?’ You know, that's a hard-working American who’s not on the public dole. He's got his priorities straight … Those are the people we need to help.”

Nunnelee concurred and highlighted one specific area where the GOP plans to take action this year.

“We're going to balance our budget within the 10-year budget window without raising taxes,” the Mississippi Republican declared. “I don't know what the Senate's going to do, but I look forward to having a healthy debate as to our vision for America. Then we're going to deal with the debt ceiling. And I would suggest we’re going to follow the Boehner principle that whatever we do with the debt ceiling, we're going to cut spending by more than we raise it.”

Nunnelee concluded his remarks by commending Chairman Scalise for his efforts in the spending and sequester debate. “I would suggest to you that we have accomplished more than we would have having Steve Scalise as Chair of the Republican Study Committee and at the table negotiating. There are times that we've got to be content moving the ball down the field five yards at a clip or eight yards at the clip. We're not going to be throwing an 80-yard pass every time into the end zone. That's the strategy for us to pursue during the next two years, because our margin is 12 seats.

“If we play it wrong, we could have Nancy Pelosi as Speaker, and the last two years of this Administration will look like the first two years. We cannot allow that to happen. The only thing standing between President Obama implementing his agenda are the House Republicans, and that has been significantly altered because of the leadership style of Steve Scalise.”


The Ripon Society is a public policy organization that was founded in 1962 and takes its name from the town where the Republican Party was born in 1854 – Ripon, Wisconsin. One of the main goals of The Ripon Society is to promote the ideas and principles that have made America great and contributed to the GOP’s success. These ideas include keeping our nation secure, keeping taxes low and having a federal government that is smaller, smarter and more accountable to the people.

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