Congressman J. Randy Forbes seeks seventh term
By Sarah Steele Wilson
Nov 3, 2012, 11:06
After being elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2001 after the death of veteran Democratic Rep. Normal Sisisky, Republican J. Randy Forbes is now pursuing a seventh term representing Virginia’s fourth district.
In an interview with this publication, he said that he judges his accomplishments based on the people who have praised them. He is one of few individuals who has received the highest civilian award offered by both the United State Army and United States Navy and was unanimously selected by MOAA’s Virginia Council of Chapters as Virginia’s Legislator of the Year.
He considers many of his other accomplishments as being linked to defense, including his support of Fort Lee.
“If you look specifically at what we’ve done for job creation, all you’ve got to do is throw a rock and hit Fort Lee,” he said, noting that he championed the Base Realignment and Closure process that doubled the size of the base and increased its positive economic impact on the region.
The post alone now accounts for one seventh of the regional economy, a figure even more substantial than predicted.
Forbes said he has also been defending local industries, such as DuPont and Honeywell that account for a large part of Hopewell’s economy, from environmental regulations that could take a toll on them.
If reelected, Forbes said he has two primary goals.
“Not allowing the military to be dismantled the way it’s starting to be and turning back some of these defense cuts,” he said, listing the first goal on his list.
Forbes has been a vocal opponent of defense cuts through sequestration and wants to make sure the automatic cutting process does not take place.
He voted against the Budget Control Act, the bill passed by the house last summer as part of the debt ceiling negotiations that established the sequestration cuts that are now looming, including the defense cuts that Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has said could be devastating.
“What I’ve argued against is the process we’re using right now, which is to say we’re just going to arbitrarily put percentages down that we’re going to cut,” Forbes said, explaining his perspective on what could be cut from future budgets in regard to defense spending. “I don’t think that’s anyway you can run a business, I don’t think that’s anyway you can run a government. So I think what we need to do is come to the table, first of all, and say what are our priorities.”
He said that the government should be responsible for maintaining a strong military and that there might be cuts that could be made in a responsible way. He would like to see possible cuts analyzed in committee.
“We can’t spend more money than we make,” he said. “That’s just a basic core situation.”
Aside from preventing the defense cuts that will take effect on Jan. 2 if a solution is not found, Forbes’s other main goal is improving the economy and creating jobs, which he said can be accomplished by opposing a tax rate hike, preventing defense cuts and repealing the health care law.
“The first thing we need to do is turn those three policies around and not lose those jobs,” he said.
In terms of creating new jobs, Forbes believes his New Manhattan Project, a proposal which calls for the United States to achieve 50 percent energy independence in 10 years and 100 percent energy independence in 20 years and that would award prizes to the first individuals or groups to reach established energy goals, would stimulate the economy. The plan has been praised by a number of publications, including the “Wall Street Journal.”
Forbes also advocates for what he calls the 414 Plan, which would temporarily suspend regulations that do not relate to the safety or durability of transportation and infrastructure projects in order to move them forward more quickly.
“They would be the first two things that I’d put into effect, which I think would help the economy and create more jobs than we’ve seen in probably a decade,” he said.
Forbes opposes the Affordable Care Act, a view which he said his conversations with doctors, nurses and healthcare administrators across the fourth district have reinforced.
“Almost to a person, they said this is the wrong direction, this is going to increase our costs, this is going to make access to health care less available, not more available,” he said.
Instead, Forbes would like to see health insurance sold across state lines, which he believes would lower costs. He also said he would like to see more focus placed on prevention and medical research.
On another healthcare related front, Forbes voted for Paul Ryan’s budget, which includes plans to convert Medicare benefits to a voucher system, a strategy Forbes said addresses problems related to the sustainability of the popular program.
Forbes said that in his view, there are three options for the future of Medicare, one of which is to let the program go bankrupt. Another is to let it continue as it is now, a plan Forbes said is not feasible.
“The third option is to say, ‘how can we come up with proposals to make it feasible and affordable for people under 55?’. That’s what Paul did,” Forbes said.
“Nobody has suggested that that was a perfect proposal, or the only proposal, but right now, it is the only proposal, because no other proposal has been put out there to do,” he said.
Although Forbes signed Grover Norquist’s “No New Tax Pledge,” Forbes said he would consider a tax rate hike if he saw an analysis that convinced him it was the right thing to do.
Tax reform has been an issue Forbes has focused on in the past and is still interested in pursuing in the future. He said he believes giving tax payers a choice between the current tax system and a flat tax set between 17 and 19 percent would provide policy makers with “a great indicator of how we could modify and reform our tax system and make it simpler, make it more effectiv and also create more revenue out of it.”
Addressing the gridlock that has gripped Congress for the last four years, Forbes said he thinks it mirrors the state of the country as a whole, which has come about because two different visions for the future have developed. He said that opposing candidates used to share a common goal, and disagreed simply on the best way to achieve it.
“Today, the reality in the country is the country is pretty divided on two totally different destinations where the country would end,” he said.
Rather than compromising, he thinks politicians should focus on finding common ground.
“It’s very difficult when you say can you and I compromise if you’re compromising on your principles,” he said. “So what we have to focus on is not compromise, but common ground, and say how do we find common ground that can move us forward.”
Forbes said that process has to start at the individual level, with members of congress reaching out to one another.
When defining the vision of the future he would like to see, Forbes referenced “four great pillars that have kept America strong.”
He said they are an economy that allows success for those who take personal responsibility and work hard, the rule of law, religious freedom and a strong national defense.
“Those are the four pillars that I’d like to see reconstituted and strengthened for the county,” he said.