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Griffith Allows Time For Politics at “Greater Griffith Open”

Morgan Griffith announces prizes with son Starke

The coveted plastic golf clubs were the grand prize at the Greater Griffith Open Thursday at Putt Putt on Peters Creek Road. Water squirt guns were other prizes in high demand by children young and old. Congressman Morgan Griffith couldn’t resist using them to take a swipe at the EPA saying, “Are you sure they’re not being outlawed? This could be a major hazard . . . ”

He also said he hoped everyone had a good golf game because, “You know you didn’t do this on your own … You know somebody else built this course.” A reference to President Obama’s Roanoke remarks that have recently made national news and become political ad fodder.

Griffith then told The Roanoke Star that he hoped some things would get done in the few days before the election when congress is in session. He was optimistic that a bill introduced by Rep Pete Olson (R-TX) would pass with bipartisan support. The bill allows power companies to comply with federal orders to maintain grid reliability during a power emergency without facing lawsuits or penalties for violating potentially conflicting federal environmental laws. Griffith said that basically means, “if you are ordered by one federal agency to do something you can’t get in trouble for violating another set of rules.”

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash) introduced another bill Griffith thinks will pass. That bill streamlines licensing for small hydropower projects that generate less than 10 megawatts of electricity. That unburdens the smaller hydro electric projects while keeping more stringent regulations on the larger projects. He couldn’t recall any “no” votes on the bill in committee.

Banking regulations are the same way said Griffith. “Maybe we need all kinds of checks and balances for the giant banks that are doing investments all over the world – then you need one set of standards. The Dodd-Frank Bill applies to everything. Applying all the same rules to local banks doesn’t make sense,” he said.

Griffith didn’t think that the farm bill, tax reform or sequestration would be taken up before the November elections. (“Sequestration means that if Congress cannot reach a deal to reduce the deficit by the end of the year, a “sequester” will trigger $1.2 trillion in automatic spending cuts evenly split between defense and non-defense spending.)

 “Sequestration shouldn’t be political, said Griffith. “It was passed by Democrats and Republicans . . . everyone signed on to that deal.” Griffith didn’t vote for it however.  Democrats are “just playing games with the Bush tax cuts too,” he said. “We shouldn’t raise taxes in a down economy – and we’re still down.”

He believes that the Bush-era tax cuts should be extended again since President Obama did so in 2010 and the economy is still struggling. “Should Obama win reelection we’ll have to figure out a way to let him save face,” said Griffith.

With sequestration looming on January 1 and trillion-dollar cuts coming that will be applied across the board Griffith believes there can be compromise there too. “In all fairness we can cut the military some … bring 10,000 troops in Europe back and save $800 million.” He said he voted to reduce DOD spending to 2011 levels, cutting $7.6 billion from their budget. “That’s doable … Sequestration is not doable.”

The Farm Bill has been stalled. There is reluctance to extend subsidies and food stamps for only one year versus five years. It gives farmers no certainty. With farmers suffering severe drought loses Griffith believes there will be compromise there too. Just when that compromise happens is the question.

Keeping 26-year old children on a parent’s insurance police is making the insurance companies money said Griffith. They are healthy and parents pay more to cover the family. “We’ve got to figure out something to do about pre-existing conditions.” There are 120 bills pending on Obamacare replacement but they will have to wait until after the election.

If Obama wins reelection there are things that need to be fixed like the $750 million of Medicare reductions over a 10-year period. “If you drop the amount of money paid to Medicare doctors so they don’t even break even then they will not accept any more patients.”

On social security Griffith says everything is on the table including raising the retirement age for most employees. He has some trepidation when it comes to labor intensive careers where age limitations apply. “That makes sense to me  – but if we do nothing, social security will not survive past 2023.”

By Valerie Garner

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