Representative Tom Graves cuts an impressive figure as a small town suburban/rural Congressman. He is handsome, charismatic, thoughtful and obviously intelligent. His story is equally as impressive with a local, pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps narrative, spoken in a gracious “aw shucks” kind of way. To say that I am a fan of Tom Graves is putting it lightly – I have watched his recent legislative career with a mixture of awe and admiration. It is not often you watch a politician do exactly what he says he will do, and to be able to say “That’s MY Congressman,” has been a special experience.
Congressman Graves is a constitutional conservative who extolls the virtues of liberty and battles each day in the halls of Congress to preserve every American’s freedom. For his trouble he has been called a “hobbit,” a “whacko bird” and other pejoratives…by Republicans. The ire directed at him from Democrats has been even more colorful. But through it all, Congressman Graves has voted his conscience and not been swayed to water down his core principles.
On Tuesday August 20th, Representative Graves held a town hall meeting in Cedartown, GA that I had the pleasure of attending. Also there were a few dozen concerned residents of Polk, Haralson, and Paulding Counties, as well as State Senator Bill Heath and several other local political activists.
Congressman Graves spoke passionately about the importance of entrepreneurship in our nation; he spoke from experience as his own background is in entrepreneurship. The recession and the destructive policies of the Obama administration have led to an ebb in the American entrepreneurial spirit, and if we hope to see our economy at full speed again we need “to rekindle American entrepreneurship.” Risk is inevitable when starting a small business, but with the added uncertainty brought about by Obamacare and too many government regulations, this is literally the worst time in American history to start a small business. Our best and brightest entrepreneurs are unwilling to take on the extra risk created by government, so our economic outlook remains stagnant… even though we are three years into our “recovery.”
Congressman Graves also discussed in detail his effort, along with Senator Ted Cruz, to defund Obamacare. A question was asked about what the Senator hoped to accomplish with defunding instead of repealing Obamacare – and he described the difficulties associated with repealing the legislation before it begins to be implemented in October. The long and short of the defunding proposal is – it is the best we can do in such a short period of time. If we can defund it before October, insurance companies that are currently planning to drop coverages all over the country will continue to provide their services. If we cannot defund it before October 1st, Americans will witness firsthand the destructive effects of Obamacare on their personal insurance and on the economy.
The specter of immigration reform also made an appearance during the hour long questions and answer period, as citizen after citizen raised concern that amnesty would be granted to the 11 million plus lawbreakers illegally residing in our country. Congressman Graves did his best to assuage the fears of the crows by repeatedly saying the House would not pass the Gang of Eight immigration bill. The Congressman sees comprehensive immigration reform as “unlikely” from the House and that a piece by piece process is much more likely. They will begin with securing the border first, and then discuss the merits of different aspects of the immigration debate issue by issue.
During the Town Hall, we also discussed several of the administrations scandals, with Congressman Graves directly addressing some of the more troubling aspects of these events.
Representative Graves called the Benghazi scandal “one of the biggest government cover-ups we’ve seen,” and the crowd could be seen nodding in agreement.
In Egypt, the administration has obviously made mistakes in their handling of the situation but the events there are complicated and the Republican caucus simply wants to see “democracy win” in Egypt.
The NSA has overstepped their bounds, and it is in our best interests to see their power curbed. To that end, Congressman Graves has teamed up with Kevin Yoder (R-KS) to ensure that the federal government cannot invade the privacy of innocent Americans. Their proposed legislation requires that the government first show probable cause and be issued a warrant before being able to collect the private electronic data of US citizens.
Congressman Graves also discussed his displeasure with the IRS. Over a year before we learned that the IRS was targeting conservatives with disproportionate scrutiny, Rep. Graves asked the IRS if they were targeting conservatives…and was told that they were not. We now know that was not true, and that the IRS knew of the targeting when Rep. Graves asked them about the issue. He plans to hold the people responsible accountable for their actions, but he also thinks that this is an important moment – one that conservatives can use to fix our broken tax code.
The IRS scandal provides a great opportunity to introduce a tax code that would take power out of government hands and give it back to the people. With that in mind, Congressman Graves has co-sponsored FAIR Tax legislation in the House and is ready to pursue making the FAIR Tax law. The legislation that Rep. Graves co-sponsored would repeal the 16th Amendment and replace the current tax code with a national consumption tax. In essence, you would only be taxed on the things that you purchased. A brilliant plan.
The overriding idea that Congressman Graves seemed to be expounding on was two-fold – first, our civil liberties must remain paramount. We cannot back down, even one inch on our personal freedom. Today, we are seeing “our civil liberties being trampled” by a government that has grown too big and too powerful for our good. Secondly, (and along the same lines) was the idea that we can do the most good for ourselves here, working through our local governments. Rep. Graves expressed this when he said, “The best we (Congress) can do is stop harm from coming your way.” We must stop expecting Congress to do for us, and start asking them to do LESS. It was reminiscent to me of a quote from one of my favorite President’s, Calvin Coolidge, who said, “It is much more important to kill bad bills than to pass good ones.”
All in all the Town Hall was an informative time. I had hoped to steal a few moments alone to conduct a short interview with Congressman Graves, but it seems that will have to wait. The best advice I heard during the Town Hall was about how we (the people) could help Congressman Graves and the other conservatives fighting for us – we need to “stay engaged.” Call our representatives, post articles on Facebook, email our friends and family and make them aware of what is happening in our nation. We are the difference makers, we must RISE UP and stand ready to be counted.
Tom Graves is part of a new wave of Republican leaders centered on Constitutional values and unwilling to bend to liberal dogma. In just a few short years, these new Republicans have run afoul of their leadership as men like John McCain, Lindsey Graham, and Peter King seek to denigrate their focus on freedom. However, this new Republican blood is focused on principle, and unlike the “old breed” of moderate RINO Republicans, they haven’t yet bent to the pressures of the media and the desire to be popular.
I am fortunate to have a principled man of character as my Representative to Washington, but I’m aware that not everyone has that luxury. It is those representatives we must hit the hardest; we must stay on them and let them know that we will keep hounding them as long as they represent us.
Thank you, Representative Tom Graves, for your hard work and service to our community. We at Eagle Rising stand behind you, we support you and we are grateful for your efforts.
- Republicans-In-Name-Only [↩]
The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by EagleRising.com