Dr. Boozman's Check-up
Oct 16 2012
Earlier this month, Senator Boozman sat down with Roby Brock of Talk Business for an Internet-televised interview based on questions he solicited from Arkansans via email and social media.
The thirty-minute segment featured questions on the farm bill, ethanol subsidies, the Veterans Jobs Corp Act, the fiscal cliff, postal reform, deepening the Arkansas River and the state highway funding ballot initiative.
Among the highlights:
- On the farm bill, Boozman believes a compromise can be reached after the election. “At the end of the day, we are going to get it done this year. It is vital to the state of Arkansas. It is vital to our farmers. This is one of the things putting a wet blanket on the economy. I was with a young farmer the other day and he wants to buy a tractor. He can’t do that because he doesn’t know what the rules are going to be for the next five years. As a result, he is not going to take out a loan, he is not going to buy a tractor and an implement dealer will not be able to make a profit in a small community in Arkansas.”
- On the misinformation surrounding the “Veterans Jobs Corp Bill,” Boozman said liberal talk show host Rachel Maddow was responsible for the claims that he helped write it when in fact it was a Democrat-led effort to push through a flawed bill without offering Republicans any opportunities to amend it. “I in no way authored the bill. I had never seen the bill until it came [to the Senate floor]. It had some good stuff in there and it had some bad stuff in there. I felt that we could have cleaned it up, but Senator Reid chose not to amend the bill,” Boozman said noting the bill did not move forward because the non-partisan Senate Parliamentarian ruled that it violated budget guidelines. “Again, it didn’t kill the bill it just sent it back to the committee to get the pay-for figured out,” he added.
- On the bigger issue of veterans’ unemployment, Boozman said the Republicans idea which Senator Reid did not allow a vote on would be a better solution. “We’ve got to help veteran gets back to work. There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it. But [with this bill] when the money went away, the job went away. So we said, let’s do the job training, but let’s put a provision in there that with attrition, veterans would have first preference [at available government positions] so they would have a real job that would last forever. Those are the commonsense things that you need to do rather than some short-sighted deal just to boost employment so you could brag about it for a year,” he said.
- On the state highway funding ballot initiative, Boozman stressed that this is a state issue, but said he intends to vote for it as a citizen. “I really believe for Arkansas to move forward you have to have the infrastructure. We talk about Jobs, jobs, jobs. The nice thing [about infrastructure development] is you create some jobs when you do it but by far the most important thing is the economic activity that comes about as a result of it,” he said.
- On deepening the Arkansas River, Boozman said, “Our inland waterways are so important. If we deepened the channel to 12-foot, the barrages would be able to hold 40% more product with very little, if any cost, of pushing it down stream. So your price goes down dramatically in terms of delivering the goods.”
- Boozman said he supports a waiver for the renewable fuel standard and that he requested that from the Administration because of the negative impact ethanol subsidies have on the cost of living for Arkansans. “In the past we’ve had about 40% of our corn crop going into ethanol. Now with the drought, I think it will be closer to 50%. That makes no sense at all,” he said. “What that does is drives up the cost of corn. That drives up the cost of commodities in general and really does translate to higher prices in the grocery stores.”
- When asked how the partisan divide on tax cuts will be overcome to avoid the “fiscal cliff,” Boozman said, “The avenue I’ve been looking at is let’s go for a year [on a tax extension] and put in place some hard and fast steps as to real tax reform.”
- On the question of how to bring down the national debt, Boozman said, “These are basic economic rules. You can’t have over a trillion dollar deficit year after year. We’ve got to get our debt under control in a logical reasonable way.”
- Boozman was also asked his position on postal reform to which he responded, “We’ve got areas in the country where lots of seniors live. They rely on the Post Office for their medicine and their Social Security check so you need to have a presence there.” Boozman, citing a reform bill he supported in the Senate, said the end game is getting the U.S. Postal Service in a position where it is economically viable again. “We’ve got to help the Post Office reinvent itself. The Post Office is going to have to find their place and we are going to have to help them find it,” he said.