WASHINGTON _ Ohio University veterans, Social Security and trade are at the top of Rep. Bob Ney's legislative agenda for the current congressional session.
“I am looking at these sometimes generic issues that are good for the whole country,” said, Ney, R-Ohio, in a recent interview.
In laying out his agenda, Ney also had some cautions for Republicans about the upcoming elections.
“The power of this Republican majority was loaned to us by the American people,” Ney said. “The vengeance will be on us in the election if we fail to do what the people want.”
Republicans, he said, are facing important votes on issues from health care to taxes to Social Security. But Republican leadership will have to wrangle with Democrats in the House over some of their plans.
The GOP hopes to pair a tax decrease with a plan to shore up the Social Security system. This plan is controversial in Congress because most Democrats and some Republicans say it is mathematically impossible in the current budgetary climate.
But Ney contends that it can be done. “It is simple – stop taking money from the Social Security budget and spending it elsewhere,” said Ney. “The money will be in the system and the budget surplus can be returned to the taxpayers.” He added, “All the money brought in by the program would either be kept there or paid out to beneficiaries.”
The overall tax cut might be a little easier to get, he said. Clinton proposed a tax break for lower and middle-income families and a removal of the “marriage penalty” in the tax code. Both parties are offering some tax break, and the debate now is over the size.
Some other plans Ney has for this session:
–Help veterans at Ohio University
Because of Ohio University's six-week winter break, veterans lose their benefits over the break. Ney is sponsoring legislation so veterans will continue to receive their checks.
–Improve Medicare coverage
Ney wants to expand Medicare to give senior citizens coverage for their prescription drugs. That plan has general bi-partisan support. But Ney would limit the drug coverage by the income of Medicare beneficiaries. Said Ney, “Ross Perot couldn't get coverage.”
–Overhaul trade legislation
Ney wants to stop what he calls “lopsided trade bills” that give preference to foreign products. He wants to see more bills like one passed last year to impose quotas and to stop foreign steel companies from dumping cheap, inferior steel in the United States market.
–Toughen penalties for child-molestation
Ney plans to introduce legislation to toughen the penalties for family members who molest their children. Current laws are outdated, said Ney, and were written to prevent incest among adults. The laws, he said, allow reduced penalties if the sexual assault is done by a member of the child's family.
Looking at the fall election, Ney expressed little concern for his re-election race. “You just do the best you can and then the voters make the decision, ” he said.
For the Republican presidential nomination, Ney supports George W. Bush of Texas. Bush's views fall closest to his own, Ney said, except for foreign trade policy. Ney wants to restrict trade, while Bush believes in more free trade. Said Ney: “We do need to work on Bush's trade policy.”