Sen. David Perdue spoke of perverse and insidious obstacles to change in Washington, scary threats overseas from the likes of North Korea and Iran, and the dangerous seductions of Sen. Bernie Sanders’ socialism while speaking with the Republican Jewish Coalition for more than an hour Sunday, Oct. 29, at the Sheraton Atlanta Perimeter North Hotel in Sandy Springs.
“We aren’t as bold and confident in what we’re doing as we ought to be,” the first-term Georgia Republican said in sharing the frustration of his audience at the failures of the Republican-led Congress and Republican President Donald Trump to fulfill campaign promises ranging from repealing and replacing Obamacare to moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
He said the rare Republican control of the House, Senate and White House has been stymied by rules. Some are the Senate’s, such as a requirement dating to 1975 to get 60 votes to end debate on bills and a James Madison-written mandate for 30 hours of Senate debate before action that Perdue said makes no sense at a time when we deal in nanoseconds. Others belong to the Republican Caucus, such as a seniority system that prevents revoking the committee chairmanships of the three GOP senators who blocked health care legislation.
As a result, he said, the Democrats have had an easy time blocking legislation and presidential nominations, with the notable exception of Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch.
“I don’t think we have been tough enough on this perverse blocking of Congress,” Perdue said.
Still, the senator offered good news from the first nine months of the Trump administration that he said people haven’t heard about because of the news media and because of failures of Republican communications, including the president’s misuse of his heavily followed Twitter account.
The achievements, Perdue said, include the addition of 1.6 million jobs, soaring consumer and CEO confidence, a 66 percent drop in illegal crossings of the Mexican border, the reversal of 860 regulations, and the beginning of “draining the swamp” by passing legislation that allows the veterans affairs secretary to fire bad employees. Plus, “Hillary Rodham Clinton is not president.”
Perdue, who like Trump ran an outsider’s campaign and defeated experienced politicians in 2014, was an early supporter of candidate Trump’s, and the senator offered examples of resulting closeness to the president despite a lack of seniority. He said he has been to the White House a lot, has been repeatedly referenced by Trump in group meetings, and has been used as a driver on issues such as immigration and tax reform.
Perdue also said he had a private dinner Monday, Oct. 23, at Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner’s house.
Speaking the day before special counsel Robert Mueller announced the first charges in his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, Perdue said Trump began the year with four items on his 2017 checklist: get Gorsuch confirmed; fix health care; undo oppressive regulations; and reform the tax code. The president has had one win, one loss and one partial success, while the fourth item, the tax code, is now the focus.
Perdue expressed determination and optimism regarding tax reform and said the record-high stock market reflects the same optimism. The first step is to set a minimal tax for businesses to repatriate an estimated $3 trillion in overseas profits. The second step is to cut the corporate tax rate from an “insidious” 35 percent to no more than 20 percent. Then Congress can tackle individual income taxes.
He said those changes are necessary to boost anemic economic growth, the only way to solve the national debt of $20 trillion and rising.
In one of several swipes at Sanders, Perdue mocked his plan for “Medicare for all” because it would cost $3.2 trillion a year, just below the current annual federal revenues of $3.6 trillion. And while half of Americans pay no income taxes now, “Bernie kills me” by calling for the United States to be more like Sweden, where everyone pays at an average rate of 54 percent.
Still, Perdue said, 75 percent of University of Georgia faculty members who made donations to 2016 presidential candidates gave to Sanders. “It’s why Bernie is so dangerous.”