By Bob Paslay
As he approaches the start of his second term in Congress, David Scott said Social Security, working towards a balanced budget and getting America successfully out of Iraq will dominate 2005. In addition, he said he is deeply concerned over the conduct of the war and predicts Congress will exert more authority over it.
Scott represents much of Locust Grove, McDonough, and Stockbridge in Henry County. His district also extends into Clayton, Fayette, and Fulton County in metro Atlanta.
A plan to scrap the federal income tax system for a 25 percent national sales tax is an idea that will not arrive at the Capitol dead on arrival, but is also a change that needs some serious examination in coming years, he said. But in the meantime, reforming the current system to make it less complicated is something that must be addressed.
Two years ago, Scott, a long-time Georgia lawmaker, made the transition to Washington by the hectic process of having to fight for office space, getting his staff together and setting up his office back in the district. This year in an easy slide to victory with only token opposition, Scott said he has opted to keep what he chose two years ago.
Rather than finding bigger or closer office space, he will keep his office in the Cannon office building and will keep his district office on Main Street in Jonesboro.
Scott quips that the three miles he averages a day going to an from the House from his office keeps him in shape and says seriously that people know where he is located.
"We've got two good years behind us. We want to build on the foundation we have established. We have carved out some good areas of leadership and look forward to going back to build on those," he said.
Scott said so many of his constituents and seniors across America depend on Social Security and it is a "very important issue" and will command a lot of his effort next year to make sure it is solvent and remains that way.
The idea of privatizing part of Social Security is "clearly moving in the wrong direction."
"Six out of 10 people on retirement get the majority of their retirement funds from Social Security," Scott said. "We have committed to generations that they will have this retirement to fall back on. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of Social Security."
Rather than privatizing the system, he said ways must be found to have "an additional infusion of funds" into the system by cutting back on some other areas.
Controlling the deficit
Continuing to spend more than the nation brings in is "terrible," Scott said. "We've got to get our monetary house in order."
Scott said the continuing deficit puts the nation in a "very vulnerable situation."
The danger is that foreign interests are purchasing America's debt as the nation spends more on interest on the deficit than it is spending on homeland security.
The deficit is creating a "very weak dollar across the world."
National Sales Tax
Scott said scrapping the current income tax system for a national sales tax "does have support" in Congress and he is keeping his mind open to the plan. But he said the nagging question is whether the sales tax can raise enough sustainable money to pay for the nation's needs. Also since so many of his constituents would end up paying this large sales tax on basic needs like food, he said there are "some serious issues of fairness." He doesn't see it passing in 2005. But he said the huge tax code "is too complicated" and needs simplifying.
The Iraq War
"I am increasingly concerned about the situation in Iraq," Scott, a strong supporter of the war and the war on terrorism, said. "We have got to get a policy that is going to be effective. We have got to reassess some of the mismanagement of resources."
On the issue of besieged Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Scott said, "I don't have faith in him and I think he has made some miscalculations."
Ticking off a series of problem including not going to war with enough soldiers and not providing those soldiers with the best equipment, he said "moral among the troops is not as high as it should be. "Who was at the top, who was managing this? I would be untruthful if I didn't say I am very much concerned about it." Scott said there said there needs to be a clear exit plan. "The American people need to know when do we consider it a success in Iraq, is it when we caught Saddam Hussein. Is it when they have elections. If you don't define that point that is bad leadership and the Congress will exert itself."
The loss of the presidency
With his party's nominee John Kerry losing, Scott said the Democratic Party has "to correct the misconception that we are weak on values. We stand for something, we care about people. Democrats have traditionally be strongest on the military (but this perception was not put forward). "You have to run a national campaign. You are crazy if you think you can win the presidency without the South." The country "is moderate and always has been. Somewhere we have got to get a candidate who can articulate the message for the broad base of the American people. He who controls the center controls the debate." The Democratic Party is still strong, he said, and has "some opportunities to take the leadership on some critical issues" like fixing Social Security and reducing the deficit.
Scott also said he thinks it is stupid to talk about shutting down bases like Fort Gillem and Fort McPherson, which he said are part of the backbone of providing the support to America's soldiers. Scott said he will fight in 2005 to make sure the ax falls somewhere else.