As President Barack Obama outlined his counterterrorism strategy in a speech on Thursday, Rep. Renee Ellmers, R-N.C., said she is happy to see the president finally taking action, though it's a bit late.
Obama talked about the closure of the prison facility at the U.S. military base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and how drone strikes have and will be used.
"Had we seen his leadership on many of these issues earlier on, we would be in a much better place," Ellmers tells Newsmax TV. Obama appears to be reacting to the Boston Marathon bombings and other events rather than taking action to head off such events, she said.
Speaking on the scandals currently plaguing the White House, Ellmers said it is hard to believe that Obama didn't know about the IRS targeting conservatives earlier than he says he did. Obama says he first learned about it when it was reported in the press.
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The Benghazi and AP phone records issues are less clear, Ellmers said, though she thinks they had to have been known by someone in the administration.
"These things had to have gone to the level of the White House, especially when we're talking about the IRS situation," Ellmers said.
The IRS scandal is probably the largest abuse of power among the three, she said, because "the tax-collecting agency can ruin lives and families and cause lost income."
The IRS will be charged with enforcing Obamacare, noted Ellmers. "Obviously, the size of government, especially when you're talking about the IRS, has gotten way too big."
For that reason she and her GOP colleagues intend to fight for tax reforms to simplify the system and to take away some of the IRS' control.
"But also, is this really the agency that should be overseeing Obamacare and whether or not individuals have healthcare coverage?" Ellmers said. "That's maybe a little too much information that they should not have."
Though some Republicans have called for a select committee on Benghazi, Ellmers is cautious, explaining that she wouldn't want to go backward on work already performed by other committees or have the investigation become an endless process.
Ellmers says Republicans are fighting Obamacare piece by piece.
"We're talking about healthcare coverage, we're talking about individuals' lives," she said. But the impact on employers is just as great, she said. Job creators tell her they will have to lay off staff, cut full-timers to part time, or just shut their doors if nothing is done.
"We know it is full of holes and that it truly is falling apart," Ellmers said of Obamacare. "The problem is that the president and his administration see the hardworking taxpayers of America as that endless source of funds to continue to keep it going."
A nurse herself, Ellmers said she would prefer to see Obamacare replaced with a patient-centered plan that would ensure affordable coverage without sacrificing quality.
With her medical background, Ellmers also is concerned about cancer patients with Medicare being turned away from clinics because of sequester cuts.
"This why across-the-board cuts are never the way to do spending cuts in Washington. They should be done strategically so that you're making good, sound decisions and cutting wasteful spending rather than needed programs," she said.
There is a double cut, she said, because doctors are seeing their Medicare reimbursements trimmed, and the drugs themselves are being cut. And since patients are then sent to hospitals, their out-of-pocket costs rise because hospitals have a different reimbursement amount. And if the hospital is too far away, patients with low incomes often opt to skip the treatments altogether.
Ellmers is a member of Maggie's List, a group that works to elect fiscally conservative female lawmakers. The GOP didn't fare well with women voters in 2012, but she hopes to see a change in 2016.
She is head of the Republican Women's Policy Committee, and says that group has lots of women's issues on its agenda. "We believe very soundly, very strongly that the issues we care about are the issues that women care about, those issues of gas prices and food prices and educating their children and healthcare," she said.
"We understand that we are not reaching out to women well enough, and we are going to change that."
Ellmers said she hasn't yet made up her mind of pursuing the seat currently held by Sen. Kay Hagen, D-N.C.
Her heart currently is in the House, and the issues she is tackling there, Ellmers said, "but I will tell you that it is a winnable seat and I'm ready to do it if it comes forward that that's what I should do."
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