By Chris Kieffer
TUPELO – While U.S. Rep. Alan Nunnelee works to repeal Obamacare, he does not believe a government shutdown is the proper tactic.
The Republican congressman from Mississippi’s 1st District met with the Daily Journal’s editorial board on Thursday. He was asked about a plan proposed by some GOP lawmakers that would defund the Affordable Care Act, even if it meant shutting down the government.
“I just don’t think shutting down the government is a responsible approach,” he said.
Nunnelee pointed to the fact that he has voted to repeal, dismantle or defund Obamacare 40 times, noting that those votes have led to some changes in the law. He said he believes government regulations, including those created by the health care law, are creating uncertainty that is stifling business growth.
“Many (businesses) have available capital, but they are unsure because they don’t know what the rules will be,” he said.
The Tupelo Republican, who was first elected in 2010, said he plans to seek re-election to a third term in 2014. He noted that because of high turnover in Congress, he is close to having seniority to head a subcommittee on the powerful Appropriations Committee.
“I’m in a position to effectively represent the people of Mississippi and be a leader in Congress,” he said.
Asked about funding for Tupelo’s airport, Nunnelee reaffirmed his opposition to any kind of aid for passenger service to the airport.
“I think the biggest competition to the Tupelo airport is Highway 78 and Interstate 22,” he said of the road that connects Birmingham and Memphis and runs through Tupelo. “…I don’t see it worth borrowing money from my grandchildren for my convenience.”
While acknowledging the airport’s role in economic development, the congressman noted that the government borrows 40 cents of every dollar it spends.
“We have to realize we are living in a different climate,” he said. “If we don’t make those difficult decisions, the warning light of Detroit should get our attention.”
Nunnelee also said:
• The U.S. should create a more business-friendly environment by reforming the tax code, rolling back unnecessary regulations and recapturing American energy.
• The tax code should be reformed with fewer deductions, a broader base and lower rates.
• Sequestration is not the best way to cut spending, and he is hopeful Congress can pass an appropriations bill that reflects priorities.
• He believes border security is the most important aspect of immigration reform and that the government needs to better keep track of people here on Visas. He called for greater use of technology to monitor who comes in and out the country.
• He believes national security measures taken after Sept. 11 have made the country safer and that sufficient checks and balances remain in place to protect privacy.
• He supports extending the portion of the nutrition bill that aids farmers but feels food stamps need to be reformed. Too many people stay in the program for too long, he said, adding that those who are physically able to work should be making efforts to do so.