A Teleconference With Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA)& Mike Pence (R-IN)

I just got off of a teleconference with Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Vice Chair of the House Republican Conference and Congressman Mike Pence (R-IN), Chairman of the House Republican Conference. The teleconference was about Obama’s budget and what follows are my notes, not quotes, from the teleconference.

Opening statement

Mike Pence: We’re working with Republicans in the Senate to get the message out that we think the President’s budget spends too much, taxes too much, and borrows too much. Our alternative budget would be much better for the country.

After months of runaway spending, after an omnibus budget, after a stimulus bill, we’re talking about another stimulus bill. Americans are tightening their belts, why can’t D.C.? We literally may have to hire 250k bureaucrats to handle it all. We’re already talking about the largest tax increase in America and it will heavily impact small business owners. This budget will hurt our economy, not help it. We’re going to have to borrow hundreds of billions from China and the Middle East. They say we’re the party of “No,” but the party saying “No” to economic growth is the Democrats.

Cathy McMorris Rodgers: The GOP is very focused on the economy, but it’s a tale of two cities. Across the country, people are tightening their belts. Small business owners are making cuts. But here, Congress is showering itself with money. It’s the highest level of spending since WW2. We are on pace to double our debt in 5 years and triple it in 10 years. We’re averaging a billion dollars an hour in spending since Obama got in and that is not good for the economy. We had TARP, the rescue of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Citibank, AIG — it’s out of control. The budget is full of pet projects that have nothing to do with the economic crisis. We want to help small businesses grow, yet there has been nothing to date that this Congress has done to help small business.

Q&A Session

Should we be worried about how unified Republicans are since Lamar Alexander just voted for the Omnibus spending bill?

Mike Pence: Senator Alexander opposes Obama’s budget and he voted for all the limiting amendments. He also said that he thought it was possible they might have universal opposition to Obama’s budget.

What about the uptake rule? Everybody seems to be in favor of this.

Mike Pence: I will get back to you.

Do you think the mainstream media is difficult to get your message out in?

Cathy McMorris Rodgers: We need to use every opportunity to get our message out from the letters to local newspapers to social networking.

Mike Pence: I want to complement Cathy McMorris Rodgers for working hard to get the message out. Obama is spending too much, taxing too much, and borrowing too much — and we have a better alternative.

Cathy McMorris Rodgers: You are working with the Senate Republicans, but are you working with any other outside organizations to get the message out?

Mike Pence: We encourage those things, but we are not coordinating it. We just want to get the message out that President Obama spends too much, taxes too much, and borrows too much.

Businesses are sick of being demonized.

Mike Pence: We need businesses large and small to be heard. I addressed the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce today. Obama addressed that organization yesterday and he didn’t talk about his spending. They applauded me when I talked about fighting spending and taxes on small businesses.

Cathy McMorris Rodgers: Obama is wrong to take away that tax deduction for charitable giving. We should be supporting people like that, not making it harder for them.

Mike Pence: The President’s new tax on charitable giving could cost American charities 16 billion dollars a year.

Cathy McMorris Rodgers: I understand

(Question from me) The CBO estimated, before the stimulus bill, that the economy would recover in the 2nd half of 2009. So, do you think it’s fair to say that if the economy recovers in the 2nd half of 2009, it’s just doing what it would have without the stimulus and if it takes longer, the stimulus and the other government interference caused it.

Mike Pence: I believe in the resilience of the American economy and I believe that this pattern of borrowing, spending, and bailout delay our way back into prosperity. If the economy recovers in the timeframe you discussed, it’ll be despite the government interference, not because of it.

Not sure about the question.

Cathy McMorris Rodgers: I think we have to ask what we have to do to get the economy growing again. It has had a ripple effect all around the world and we are interconnected around the world. One of the best things we can do for the world is to get our economy going.

Mike Pence: We were here when the PM of England called for a global New deal. The leadership in Germany is actually resisting efforts to go into debt for stimulus. America shouldn’t lead the West down the path of more borrowing and spending that will make the world less prosperous for our children.

How is the GOP doing the substitute budget?

We are working with a bold, clear Republican budget alternative. We are going to make a case that the President’s budget spends too much, taxes too much, and borrows too much. We will bring our budget to the floor and put people on the record. Do they want to vote for our responsible bill or higher taxes and more spending?

Cathy McMorris Rodgers: We want the American people to understand that there is a difference in approach and we are getting the message out through people like you.

Is the GOP budget going to be just marginally more responsible?

Mike Pence: We do need to be decisive. We need to present a bright line alternative based on fiscal responsibility and growth.

Cathy McMorris Rodgers: What Obama is doing is a complete restructuring of our economy. We are very concerned about the spending, borrowing, and taxing. We need to go back to the principles that made America strong.

In his budget, he has over a $600 billion tax increase, a doubling of energy costs, to implement cap and trade. We need to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. We need to unleash American energy by expanding renewables, by building nuclear power, by doing more drilling.

We need to protect American health care, too. This budget is a huge takeover of America’s economy by the federal government.

Mike Pence: We are committed to taking our message to the American people. The GOP message is that the President’s budget spends too much, taxes too much, and borrows too much.

One of my favorite Bible verses is, the trumpet does not sound a clear call, who will know to get ready for battle? We will sound a clear call.

Summary: Just two things. I love the fact that they’re hammering a strong, effective, consistent message, “Obama is spending too much, taxing too much, and borrowing too much — and we have a better alternative.”

Also, a significant percentage of the questions really sucked. They were obscure, muddled, didn’t make sense — people need to put a little more time into coming up with questions.

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