The Franklin News-Post|
P. O. Box 250
310 Main Street, SW
Rocky Mount, Virginia 24151
Monday, October 24, 2011
By CHARLES BOOTHE - Staff Writer
"A total lack of common sense."
That's how Fifth District Rep. Robert Hurt (R-Chatham) described the federal government's proclivity for overregulating and overspending during a breakfast meeting with area business professionals Friday morning.
Washington policies have not been supportive of business, he said, and have actually made job growth more difficult.
"There is a culture in Washington that does not listen," he said. "They know better than the people back home. That's the level of arrogance that is truly amazing to behold. I can't tell you how frustrating that is."
About 30 people attended the meeting, held at Ippy's, and they all received a list of all the bills related to reducing "unnecessary regulations" the House has passed that are now stuck in the Senate.
Hurt blasted the Senate for its inaction.
"They don't do their jobs," he said, "and we can't make them."
Small businesses and small farms are the "lifeblood" of the national economy, he said, and they are being hit with regulations that stymie growth.
Hurt used the example of a dairy farmer he talked with in Gretna who, because of the dry conditions, wanted to build a small pond on his land to store water to irrigate his cornfield.
"How hard can that be? How hard should that be?" Hurt asked.
But there was a very small piece of his hundreds of acres of land, less than one-tenth of an acre, that was classified as "wetland." That meant in order to get the pond, he would have had to spend more than $1,000 to get a permit.
"He was unable to build that pond," Hurt said, and his cornfield dried up.
Such a regulation makes "absolutely no sense," he said, adding that the dairy farmer said the federal government "cares more about snakes and mosquitoes than it does people."
Hurt said he was willing to work with President Obama and the Senate on these and other issues, but there are two sticking points -- raising taxes and increasing spending.
If the government's share of the Gross National Product (GNP) keeps growing, "the next thing you know, we will be Greece," he said.
"A large government has a direct inverse relationship to the freedom we can have," he added.
Responding to a question from the audience on another major issue, health care, Hurt said the country needs a "market-oriented" solution that makes it easier for doctors to practice and be compensated adequately by Medicare.
"We're losing providers because of the regulations," he said.
A local businesswoman with a medical equipment company told Hurt that she had to spend two hours completing an eight-page document to get one item covered.
Dr. Al Hagy, who has practiced in this area since 1963, told Hurt that "we need to get tort reform" as one of the solutions and doctors should not see continuing cuts from the federal government for Medicare.
"It's a very untenable situation for primary care," he said.
Hurt agreed and added that allowing insurance companies to compete across state lines would help as well.
However difficult things may be in Washington, Hurt said he is optimistic that needed changes will eventually be made.
"We need to start doing what's right, not what's popular," Hurt said of politicians.
The economy has deteriorated and the polices of the current administration have not helped, he said, and that's why groups like Occupy Wall Street have surfaced.
"It signifies the tremendous frustration we see all across the country from policies enacted in the past two years that have stalled the economic recession instead of moving us toward economic recovery," Hurt said.
Americans are looking for "honesty and real action," he added.