Photo by Les Stukenberg.
Originally Published: March 12, 2016 6 a.m.
PRESCOTT – Rep. Paul Gosar came short of endorsing a presidential candidate in constituent meetings Tuesday and Wednesday, but the Republican from Arizona’s 4th Congressional District said he can understand the American people’s distrust in the Washington establishment.
“You watched what happened in 2010,” Gosar said Wednesday night at a town hall meeting at the Yavapai County Administration Building.
He was referring to the tea party movement that grew as a response to the 2008 elections and gave Republicans control of the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate two years later.
“The process has been building and nothing’s getting done,” he said.
Gosar said he can understand voters’ support for candidates who are perceived as outsiders, whether it’s Donald Trump leading the Republican field or Sen. Bernie Sanders challenging Hillary for the Democratic nomination.
He pointed out that an overwhelming majority of senators and representatives have been replaced in the last three election cycles, whether it’s by a member of the opposite party or from a primary challenge.
Gosar repeated statements he previously made about GOP leadership – both in the House and Senate – and his distrust of the White House.
Much of his message criticized his own party leadership for failing to pass both a complete concurrent budget resolution and all the required spending bills – something neither Democrats nor Republicans have accomplished in more than two decades.
He said the result is a federal budget driven by decisions of prior Congresses and White House administrations.
“The mandatory spending is on autopilot: It’s getting bigger and bigger and bigger,” Gosar said.
He described his accomplishment in being behind one-sixth of the House’s budget appropriations bills, and a hope that other members of congress would be as active in the budget and appropriations process.
“We have to asset our power of the purse,” he said, warning that the process is leading to increased deficit spending by the federal government, and adding to more than $19 trillion in federal debt.
“We better be doing a darn budget,” Gosar said. “That’s where I’m at.”
The congressman spent time railing against the Affordable Care Act, explaining it was the latest action of a 50-year process that had eroded the nation’s health care system.
Similarly, he decried President Barack Obama’s actions on immigration as well as the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule passed by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which expands a 1968 law designed to combat housing discrimination.
Gosar’s position seemed to be less about the policies themselves and more about the president’s unilateral action.
“Congress has never weighed in in this arena, no matter who you feel,” Gosar said. “We shouldn’t be scared of the process.”
On Wednesday, the congressman was back with constituents at a morning “Cops, Congress and Coffee,” with Yavapai County Sheriff Scott Mascher and police chiefs from cities across Yavapai County in attendance.
At both meetings, Gosar told constituents who had problems accessing governmental services to reach out to his staff.
“It shouldn’t take the action of a congressman or congresswoman to get claims adjudicated,” he told a constituent who described problems accessing benefits from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
“Please, come to our office,” Gosar said. He touted his record both on Capitol Hill and one-on-one with constituents in not only asking questions, but following up on issues later.
“You can bark all you want, but if you have no follow-through, it means nothing.”