By Tim Hennagir
“Pancakes and Politics” were the order of the morning when Rep. Tom Emmer met with business leaders and chamber of commerce members Friday, Feb. 24, in Big Lake.
Emmer met for a hour with Becker Area Chamber, Big Lake Chamber, Elk River Chamber, Monticello Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and I-94 West Chamber of Commerce members at the Friendly Buffalo.
He provided an update on the 115th Congress and how lawmakers are working with the new leadership in Washington, D.C.
Emmer didn’t waste any time stating why he supported President Donald Trump in last November’s election.
“You may agree with that, and you may not agree with that. I supported the idea that this country, frankly, has become ‘The Regulation Nation.’ This country can do so much better if we just get the government off the backs of the people, and let the people do what they do best, which is evaluate risk, evaluate opportunities with their own dollars, instead of having the government tell them what they can and can’t do.”
Emmer said Trump gave the country the best opportunity to restore an individual, self-determinist approach to government.
”Some of you, your businesses are doing well, but is 2 percent growth is what we are supposed to have in this country? No, it’s not,” he said.
Emmer suggested that 4 percent or 5 percent growth would be better. “It’s not just about bad spending decisions,” he said. “When your economy is not growing the way it should and needs to grow, you will always have an imbalance. It could be so much better. It will be better if we could just start to reorder the priorities and put people back in charge of the decisions. This is why I supported the incoming administration.”
Emmer said since the Trump administration has arrived, an all-out war has broken out between the president and the national news media.
“In my humble opinion, the national news media didn’t understand things before Nov. 8, they didn’t understand it on Nov. 9 and they don’t understand it today,” Emmer said. “I think our national news media is the least trusted source of information that anyone is receiving today.”
Emmer said he’s not a big fan of Trump’s Twitter presidency, but he is a big fan of going around the national news media.
“This president has rewritten the rule book. When you have the national news media telling you that the administration is in complete disarray, that they don’t have their legs underneath them, I will tell you, from my perspective, it’s patently false,” he said.
Nevertheless, Emmer said the Trump administration did make a mistake rolling out the initial immigration executive order.
Emmer also said the Trump administration made an additional error in allowing the national media to pound on the story. He said those news organizations created a “false narrative” about a Muslim ban.
“I was on WCCO-TV that Sunday, and I said, ‘Everybody take a deep breath.’ This is not a ban on any religion,” Emmer said. “This is about safety and security in this country. It shouldn’t matter if you are Republican or Democrat. We should be vetting people when they come in.”
Emmer said it was unfortunate Trump sent out a Tweet the day after that television broadcast stating he (Trump) should have delayed issuing a “ban.” Emmer said members of the House received an apology from a member of Trump’s inner circle a week after the immigration executive order was rolled out.
“They said they were sorry, and hoped we [Congress] would have patience with them,” Emmer said, adding the administration said it would get better from within. “I can tell you, it has,” Emmer said. “The national news media keeps reporting something different.”
Emmer said the Trump administration is moving at a “breakneck pace” removing presidential memoranda issued by the Obama administration.
“The Trump administration is moving very fast,” he said. “Everyday, they are undoing rule after rule. Things are on track, despite what you are hearing.”
Regarding repeal of the Affordable Care Act, the time for finger-pointing is over, Emmer said. “The Democrats who voted for this were duped. The people who designed the act knew they were going to have to do something [later] with it because it wouldn’t work. I think the political elites didn’t want it to work, and there were others who thought they could tweak and repair it.”
According to Emmer, when the Affordable Care Act was envisioned, too much discretion was placed in the hands of the U.S. Health and Human Services secretary.
“They never anticipated a President Trump and a Secretary Tom Price,” Emmer said. “What is going to happen over the next three weeks is all of the financial plumbing [associated with the act] will be repealed. Once that is done, the secretary of U.S. Health and Human Services will be granting waivers to states, allowing them to take back their decision-making authority to help stabilize the individual insurance market and start crafting the products that are necessary to drop the cost of insurance going into 2018.”
However, Emmer said any policy change will have to come back through the House and Senate and get signed into law by Trump. “We will be able to do the things that stabilize the market and provide people with real choices in 2018,” Emmer said. “That will allow lawmakers at the state level to craft solutions that best fit Minnesotans’ needs.”
Regarding tax reform, Emmer said a major corporate plan should emerge before Congress recesses in August. “What’s it going to look like? Well, there’s going to be major reform that will create 600,000 new jobs over the next 10 years and have an impact on our Gross Domestic Product of roughly 3 percent. That’s huge.”
The tax reform plan mentioned by Emmer would also eliminate the estate tax. “I’m confident the president will be signing a repeal. That’s incredibly important.”
Emmer said the state of Minnesota has lost roughly 20 percent of its community banks because of Dodd-Frank, the federal law that places regulation of the financial industry in the hands of the government.
The act was passed by the Obama administration in 2010 as a response to the 2008 financial crisis. “What the House is doing is putting up the strongest possible plan,” Emmer said. “It’s also the most controversial. I think most of you who are in business would agree with me that we can do a little bit better when it comes to the tax system our country.”
Emmer also fielded a question about reviewing the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) provision of Dodd-Frank, one of the most contentious reforms in response to the 2008 financial meltdown.
“The (CFPB) is a Soviet-style command-control organization that no one has control over,” Emmer said. “A Democrat could argue with me all day about this. This was the biggest mistake that was allowed to happen. These guys are spending hundreds of millions of dollars, and they don’t get their budget from Congress. They send a handwritten request over to the Federal Reserve and they get the cash.”
Emmer said in early March, the House will start marking up legislation called the Choice Act that will reform the CFPB. Regarding transportation, Emmer said Trump will keep his campaign promises on infrastructure improvement.
“He plans on delivering,” Emmer said. “We have to see the details, but the House and the Senate are very excited about getting it done. We’re not just talking about roads and bridges. We are talking about every major piece of transportation infrastructure that’s in this country.”