Meadows, R-Cashiers, said he has seen a lot of handwringing by federal agencies in the wake of the recent sequester. But too many bureaucrats are unwilling to roll up their sleeves and leverage the hand they’re dealt to get the job done somehow. Instead they are cutting their most critical functions simply to prove a point.
“We are going to have to work through legitimate pain versus fabricated pain,” he said.
But that’s easier said than done. Meadows said bureaucrats have built walls that even Congressmen can’t easily peer over to find out how the government actually operates.
“I knew our government was dysfunctional, but it is 10 times worse than I thought it would be,” he said.
The Haywood County Chamber of Commerce hosted a roundtable lunch meeting with Meadows this week to give business leaders a chance to share their concerns with him. Meadows is clearly a friend of the business community, said Charles Umberger, president of Old Town Bank.
“He knows what it’s like to make payroll. He knows what it’s like to lose a big client,” Umberger said.
The freewheeling conversation moved between Egypt, the lending environment, regulatory reform, Medicare insolvency, bipartisanship and a myriad of other topics.
Simply cleaning up the government emerged as one of Meadow’s clear passions. He quickly noticed after taking office in January that the favorite phrase in Washington is “it’s pending.” Passing the buck has become an institutionalized way of doing business, even among, or especially among, Congress. Meadows doesn’t want to be that kind of Congressman, however.
“We are at a desperate time in our nation’s history,” he firmly stated. “We have to make some tough choices, and I’m willing to do that even if it means getting a black eye.”
However, Meadows admitted the sequester is a flawed route to government savings. Cutting the same amount across the board means some agencies are cut to the bone while others survive with several layers of fat still intact — depending on how generously padded they were in the first place.
But in theory, “We should be able to cut two pennies out of every dollar,” he said.
Meadows also told business leaders he wanted to pursue regulatory reform, one of the promised points in his campaign. He feels regulations, not taxes, are the biggest burden faced by business today.
“We have allowed the pendulum to swing way too far,” Meadows said. “We have to get that where it is a happy balance again.”