Rep. Jim Bridenstine Finding Expectations Being Met in Congress
By DAVID JONES
Editor at Large
Thus far, the first months serving his first term in the U.S. Congress has met Jim Bridenstine’s expectations. He says he is honored to serve the First Congressional District of Oklahoma, and the work is just as hard and the pressure just as intense as he had expected. He has come up to his first deadline and isn’t quite sure what to make of it. The sequester, designed to cut federal budgets everywhere, has gone into effect and to date no one quite seems to know what to make of it. “If it does lead to massive defense cuts it will be especially devastating to Oklahoma because we have so many instillations that employ so many people,” Bridenstine says. Just what the final result will be is yet to be determined.
His House of Representatives committee assignments keep him abreast of military budgetary problems. He is on the Armed Services Committee and on the Tactical Air and Land, Strategic Forces and Oversight and Investigations subcommittees. (He is also on the Science, Space and Technology Committee and three subcommittees there). A fiscal conservative, he worries about the future of the economy. “The President is so concentrated on tax increases he won’t talk about spending cuts. He seems determined to raise taxes or blame the Republicans for anything that goes wrong. But the nation just went through a major tax increase at the beginning of the year. I think Republicans have to have a cohesive message that the problem isn’t revenue, it’s spending.
“This year the government will have the most revenue we’ve ever had in the nation’s history and the President demands even more. He continues to print money to buy bonds to fund the government. This can have a devastating effect on the very people he claims to be helping. As prices rise, the purchasing power of the dollar is decreased and people on fixed incomes are caught in the squeeze. A lot of those people have invested their money in bonds and low interest rates are a further drain on their income.”
Bridenstine looks with favor on the budgets proposed by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) “The Ryan budget would get us to balance in a few years. The President has no plan to ever get us to a balanced budget. The goal of a balanced budget is so important, says Bridenstine, that he has joined a bill to require just that. Part of the bill is a requirement that if the President’s budget doesn’t balance in 10 years that it must present a plan to bring the budget into balance. He thinks the Republican majority in the House can be a stabilizing factor in the budget fight. “Obama won the presidency but the Republicans won the House and it is in the House that the tax action begins. This is where Republicans have to take a stand.”
Much has been written about how President Obama is keying to wresting control of the House from the Republicans in 2014, but Bridenstine is not too concerned about this. “Traditionally the sixth year of an eight-year term has not been kind to the party in the White House with that party losing seats rather than gaining them. President Clinton managed to do it in 1998 but that was an unusual year and four years earlier the Republicans had reversed 40 years of Democratic dominance. The President won’t be on the Democratic ticket in 2014 and the question everyone is asking is whether or not his liberal base will show up.
“I think if Republicans don’t pick up seats in both the House and the Senate, we will have done something very wrong.” Bridenstine sees battles on a number of fronts in the coming two years. “Obamacare is going to be more and more an issue as it is implemented and people see just what is involved,” he says.
Some of Obama’s support may fade, he says, on such issues as gun control. “A lot of office holders running in states where there are a lot of hunters and gun enthusiasts are going to leave the President on this issue.” Bridenstine himself is a believer in the Second Amendment of the Constitution. “I am not in favor of banning any kind of gun or magazine.”
Bridenstine is in favor of passing a rule in the House that any new bill coming out of committee has to say what program it duplicates. “We need to ease up on the bureaucracy that is killing small businesses.” He is prepared for these and other positions he holds to be raked over the coals by the opposition. “In order to advance an extreme liberal agenda, the left has to demonize those of us who believe in those values. If you believe in limited Constitutional government, low taxes, low regulations and civil liberties, these ideas are antithetical to the left but there’s nothing extreme about them.”