KINGMAN - U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl said he has three issues he wants to tackle before he leaves office for good: spending, taxes, and border security. Kyl and Kirk Adams, the speaker of the Arizona House of Representatives, were the two main speakers at the Mohave County Republican Central Committee's annual Lincoln Day Dinner for District 1 Saturday evening.
Kyl told those attending the dinner at White Cliffs Middle School that he didn't have anything in particular lined up after he left office. However, he had a few things he wanted to do in the 22 months he had left.
First, he wanted to reduce wasteful Washington spending. Kyl sits on the Senate Committee on Finance.
"Democrats still haven't got the message from the last campaign," he said. People who have not been involved in politics for years are getting involved because they are afraid of what the Obama administration is doing to the country.
Democrats have taken over control of health care over the objection of the American people. They don't believe the American people are smart enough to choose what is best for themselves and their families, Kyl said.
"They think they know better then you," he said. The American people finally rose up during the last election and overwhelmingly elected Republicans to the House of Representatives in 2010. The Republicans in the House plan to stop all bad ideas from the Democrats.
Republicans were looking to cut $100 billion out of the budget President Barack Obama planned to send to the House as well as cut redundant programs and agencies and repeal unnecessary laws such as the federal health care bill.
The Republicans plan to introduce a new bill every two weeks to cut government spending, Kyl said. They have created a website, www.majorityleader.gov/YouCut/, where people can nominate programs or items they want cut from the federal budget. Already high on the list is National Public Radio, he said.
If they don't take responsibility, the Senate Democrats will become the new party of "no," which is a great way for the Republicans to set up for the next election, Kyl said.
Obama has racked up more debt than all of the previous presidents from George Washington to George W. Bush, Kyl said. If the president's plan to jump start the economy by spending money worked, we wouldn't still be losing jobs, he said.
On top of losing jobs, 40 percent of every dollar spent has to be borrowed from a foreign government, Kyl said. This not only puts the U.S. in debt to other nations that may not like us, it also prevents private businesses from getting loans because the government has sucked up all the money, he said.
Businesses are also uncertain of what new government regulations and taxes will be imposed on them, so they aren't hiring more people, Kyl said.
Out of control
"We're letting government get way out of control," he said. "Jobs can be created at the same level as when President Ronald Regan was in office if government would just get out of the way."
Jobs are going abroad because businesses are getting killed by unnecessary regulation and taxes, he said.
Revising the federal tax code to be more pro-growth was the second of the three main projects Kyl said he wanted to work on. He also sits on the Senate Taxation, IRS Oversight and Long-term Growth Committee. He said he wanted to revise the code to encourage saving and investing and tax spending.
The U.S. collects enough revenue from taxes, he said, the problem is spending. If the government would curb spending and encourage saving and investments, the economy would grow.
"We don't need to subsidize everything under the sun," Kyl said.
The third item Kyl said he wanted to tackle was immigration. He also sits on the Senate Immigration, Refugees and Boarder Security Committee.
"You're sitting in your house and all the faucets are open, your sinks and bathtubs are overflowing. What do you do first? Turn off the water or get out the towels and start sopping up the mess? We can't address immigration issues until we secure the border," he said.
It wouldn't take much money to get the boarder reasonably secure, Kyl said. Half of the illegal immigrants who enter the U.S. do so between Douglas and Nogales.
In 2005, 137,000 illegal immigrants were captured near Yuma, he said. Six years later, only 6,000 were caught because of changes made to border security in the area, including 11 miles of double fencing, lights, cameras, additional border patrol agents, vehicles, etc., Kyl said. Another reason is "Operation Streamline," a court program designed to discourage illegal immigrants from making repeated attempts to enter the U.S. Judges sentence every illegal immigrant caught to at least a week or more in jail. Repeat offenders are given longer sentences, up to two months. When the immigrants are released from jail they are flown to Mexico City or to ports in Texas. Human smugglers and illegal immigrants have stopped trying to cross into the U.S. near Yuma because of these programs, Kyl said.
The Tucson sector needs the same kind of program, he said. Judge John Roll was working on finding out how many illegal immigration cases the U.S. District Court for Arizona handled when he was shot and killed during the Tucson shooting event that injured Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.
Kyl said he thought the federal government could have operational control of the boarder in the Tucson area within two years if it implemented a program similar to the one used in Yuma.
In closing, Kyl encouraged people to become involved in the political process.
"This is do-it-yourself government. This is what they yearn for in Egypt. It's amazing what we can do when we are motivated," he said, referring to the Republican's sweep of the House in the 2010 election. "The Democrats have not changed their style. Obama is only compromising because he has to. If you do this we can right the ship of state, we can turn this ship around and make our freedom secure," Kyl said.
Arizona Speaker of the House Kirk Adams followed. He announced during a question and answer period that the Legislature planned to release a tax incentive plan that would encourage businesses to move to the state. The details of the plan are slated to be released on Monday.
Adams spoke about the independent nature of Arizonans, problems getting the federal government to enforce laws, the cost of the federal health care bill, budget problems and the state's economic struggles.
Arizona is known for its defiant spirit of independence, Adams said. Arizona is a little different from the other states in that it still has its frontier spirit, which is what the country needs now, he said. It is this defiant spirit that has led the Arizona Legislature to challenge the federal government to do its duty to secure the boarder by passing Senate Bill 1070, which allows law enforcement officers to check the immigration status of anyone in the state during a traffic stop or the investigation of a crime. The same spirit has led the state to sign onto a lawsuit challenging the federal health care bill.
Challenging the federal health care bill is a worthwhile fight, Adams said. Because of the federal mandates, the health care bill will cost the state approximately $1 billion out of the $8 billion in revenue the state will bring in in 2012, he said. That is why the Legislature and Governor Jan Brewer requested that the federal government allow Arizona to reduce the number of people on its Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, the state's Medicaid program, rolls.
"We're only asking them to allow us to drop to the same level, no more, no less, than 44 other states," Adams said. Without cuts to AHCCCS, the state would have to make major cuts to education and public safety or raise taxes.
Leading the way
"Arizona is leading the way to fight back against the federal government," he said. State governments have to live within their budgets, the federal government does not. States do not have the option to borrow money, the federal government does, Adams said.
"We have to balance revenue with spending," he said. One case where that was apparent was in the state and federal pension programs. Neither government entity has the funds to keep these programs running, Adams said. The Arizona system was in need of great repair, something the Legislature was trying to tackle while at the same time protecting the retirements of firefighters, law enforcement officer and other public servants, he said.
"If we don't tackle it now we may never be able to," Adams said.
The loss of jobs was another issue the Legislature was trying to get a handle on, he said. The state has lost nearly 300,000 jobs since the economy sank. By lowering taxes on businesses, the Legislature could make the state more attractive to those businesses looking to move.
"It's a big challenge and we have some tough choices to make. We will do everything we can to right the ship of Arizona," Adams said.