“It’s time for Congress to be making some tough decisions,” Cathy McMorris Rodgers, the highest-ranking Republican woman in Congress, tells Newmax.TV in an exclusive interview.
“The federal government has been spending too much and borrowing too much,” the Washington state representative tells Newsmax. “We’ve been living way beyond our means, and we need to start setting priorities.
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“We need to start making the tough decisions within our budget so that we actually get back to a balanced budget. It’s in the best interest of our fiscal house here but also our economy and our national security moving forward.
“We have a lot on our plate – and the president and the Senate and everyone need to engage and get serious about these discussions.”
McMorris Rodgers, who has been mentioned as a possible vice presidential pick, attacked the looming across-the-board defense cuts, which would be carried out under a process known as “sequestration.”
Leon Panetta, Defense Secretary to President Barack Obama, has said the cuts pose a national security threat. They take effect Jan. 1.
“The cuts would be pretty drastic,” McMorris Rodgers said. “They also threaten some very important jobs all across this country.
“Sequestration could be avoided. The president is ignoring the fact that these cuts are facing our Defense Department.”
The ambivalence is leaving many companies in limbo, McMorris Rodgers said.
“Defense contractors are shutting down projects,” she said. “They’ve already said that, in October, they might have to issue tens of thousands of pink slips to their employees because there’s so much uncertainty over what the Defense Department’s going to be able to fund moving forward.
“We’re talking a big cut out of our Defense Department – and, yet, the president has taken no action. He has put no plans in place right now to say what this is going to look like at the Defense Department. He needs to be doing that.
“He needs to be making smarter decisions based upon the reality of the situation,” she said.
But the U.S. House of Representatives needs to be just as decisive, McMorris Rodgers said, in getting a farm bill passed. The full House has delayed action on sweeping farm legislation – and is now working on interim legislation that would aid farmers affected by this year’s severe drought.
“We are still working through the votes in the House,” she said. “The farm bill that the House has passed out of committee makes some cuts in the nutrition programs, $35 billion. It also eliminates the direct payments that have been long in place for our farmers. I believe that those are important reforms.
“Our farmers need the certainty of the farm bill moving forward. It’s really a difficult time – and it would be in our best interest to get the farm bill done this year.”
McMorris Rodgers also serves as GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s liaison to the House GOP conference. In the post, she keeps Republican House members apprised of the former Massachusetts governor’s plan and message.
Romney on Thursday began a trip aboard that includes stops in London, Israel and Poland. It follows a tour of 12 swing states that focused on small businesses. “I think it’s such an important campaign,” McMorris Rodgers said.
“The president has gotten it wrong when he somehow thinks that government is the one that is building these businesses and building our economy. Seventy to 80 percent of the jobs in this country are started by small businesses – and we need to highlight them, and we need to celebrate them.”
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