Tuesday, December 14, 2010

TOP STORY > >Delegation visits air base

Leader executive editor

Arkansas’ newest senator and congressmen toured Little Rock Air Force Base on Monday and affirmed their commitment to help the base carry out its missions.

Sen.-elect John Boozman (R-Ark.), who is now the Third District congressman, and Rick Crawford and Tim Griffin, two Republicans who will represent the First and Second District, respectively, attended a luncheon of the Little Rock Air Force Base Community Council. They also toured the base with Col. Mike Minihan, the commander of the 19th Airlift Wing, and other base officials.

Minihan noted some $60 million in improvements spent recently on the base. Boozman said supporting the base is one of his priorities.

The incoming senator and congressmen are expected to make regular visits to the base, as did their predecessors, including outgoing Rep. Vic Snyder (D-Ark.), who serves on the Armed Services Committee.

In an interview with The Leader, Griffin said one of his priorities in Congress will be to repeal the new health law and balance the budget with several spending cuts such as ending pensions for all incoming members of Congress like himself.

Griffin said he would introduce legislation to eliminate all pensions for future members of Congress. Not only would that save the government money, but it would spur term limits since there would be less of an incentive to stay in Congress for a long time, he said.

Pensions are calculated according to length of service. Ending pensions “helps to address the problem of term limits,” he added.

Griffin, a former interim U.S. attorney, said he supports extending the Bush-era tax cuts for all incomes.

“We must maintain the current tax rates so that families and job creators won’t be burdened with higher taxes, especially in this challenging economic climate,” he said.

He hailed Monday’s ruling by a federal judge invalidating the mandate requiring all Americans to buy health insurance.

“It doesn’t necessarily surprise me,” he said of the ruling. “This is just the first step in addressing problems with the health law. I’ve been very specific about my opposition to the health-care law. I will work to repeal the law.”

The approach to health-care reform should have started with “we must do no harm. We violated that rule,” he insisted.

He said, “Health reform was a big part of my campaign. But this particular law is not what we need. It doesn’t control costs. It creates new entitlements that we cannot afford. They failed to address the biggest problem — costs.”

“We need market-based solutions,” Griffin continued “We need interstate competition. We need tort reform.”

He said it was a mistake to raise health-care costs by increasing government spending and adding more programs.

Griffin said businesses are in limbo since they don’t know what regulations are in the new law.

“I’ve had numerous business folks say to me we’ve set so much aside for health care, and now there will be more,” Griffin said.

In addition to cutting government regulation, he wants to reduce spending, even if it’s only symbolic. “But it’s a start,” he said.

“We must do with less,” he added. “Every cut matters and would demonstrate we’re willing to make sacrifices. We’re in a dire situation.

“Congress has no credibility on spending,” he said. “We don’t have a revenue problem. We have a spending problem. This will be the focus of what I’ll do in Congress.”

Griffin said he is optimistic for now. He believes “we have a window of opportunity.”