By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Tuesday, June 17, 2017, State Senator Trip Pittman (R-Montrose) spoke at length with The Alabama Political Reporter (APR) about the major issues in this US Senate election. Pittman has served two terms in the State Senate and is seeking the US Senate vacancy created when Sen. Jeff Sessions (R) became US Attorney General.
APR: The Senate is divided on the Healthcare bill. Should the focus of the healthcare bill be primarily providing healthcare coverage for as many Americans as possible or cutting costs and reducing the deficit?
Pittman: Ultimately the current plan (Obamacare) is not going to work.” I support the complete repeal of Obamacare and am concerned about its effects on the small business healthcare market and the affect that this uncertainty is having on the economy. We have got to get the economy moving. Pittman expressed dissatisfaction with the current Republican plan which he said Amends Obamacare it does not repeal Obamacare.
APR: Should every American citizen have the legal option not to carry healthcare coverage if they choose not to or should those Americans be facing tax penalties for not buying the coverage?
Pittman: It should be an option. Healthcare is not a right, and it should not be a mandate.
APR: The national budget deficit is $587 billion. How would you eliminate the deficit?
Pittman: We have to get the economy growing. We have economic growth of about one and a half percent. We need to look at growing the economy at three, three and a half. Maybe even four percent. We have to look at the headwinds we are putting in front of the economy. Headwinds like all the regulations, the tax burden, and uncertainty with healthcare costs.
Pittman: Liberty also requires responsibility. We will provide help to those who are truly in need; but we need to demand that the able bodied work and take care of themselves/
Pittman told APR that he would support an amendment to the US Constitution declaring that life begins at conception and banning abortion across the United States.
Pittman said that he does support a bill demanding that all 50 states honor the concealed carry permits of every other state, reciprocity.
APR: The State of Alabama has a $21 billion a year budget. Approximately $13 billion of that actually comes from State taxes and fees. The rest of that comes from the Federal government, often with numerous demands on the State in terms of how the money is spent and requiring that the State provide matching funds. Do you favor block granting the money for Medicaid, transportation, etc., to the agency it is intended for without all of the demands placed on the states by the Federal government now?
Pittman: I do support block grants and total flexibility, however, you have to be very careful about block grants. They should be awarded on a per capita basis. We should be rewarded because we did not expand Medicaid and have kept our Medicaid costs low. It is also important to make sure the states use the money for the purposes that it is sent.
Pittman said that in addition to his military service and business experience, this is what makes him qualified for this job. Pittman said that he has spent the last seven years as the Senate budget chairman, both of the Education Trust Fund and the State General Fund, thus he understands the eligibility requirement and how any changes to deal with the Federal budget is going to have an impact on state budgets. Pittman emphasized the importance of getting the economy growing.
APR: Yesterday, President Trump accused the Syrian government of Bashir Assad of making preparations for another chemical weapons attack. There have been at least two well documented such strikes already in this war in defiance of international law. If they actually do strike rebel forces and civilians again with chemical weapons should the US mission in Syria become one of toppling Assad?
Pittman: First of all, I am not privy to all the classified intelligence. I want to make absolutely certain that Assad is responsible for the chemical weapons attack. We have gone to war before on false pretenses. There are a lot of interests there. We need to be very careful. We toppled Saddam Hussein in Iraq without a plan of what happens next.
APR: How do we keep North Korea from developing long-range rockets to strike the United States with nuclear
weapons or is that already a given?
Pittman: They have got serious issues with the missiles. They can’t reach the United States yet and they can’t get a warhead on the missiles. It will take them at least several years…We have got to get help from China. 85 percent of North Korea’s trade is with China and without their cooperation sanctions will not work like they have worked in other places. It is important they mitigate tensions with North Korea.
APR: Tax reform has become a popular topic in Washington these days. Should we adopt a fair tax, a flat tax, or simply reform the existing multi-tier tax system we have now?
Pittman: Well I was supportive of a fair tax. But thought that the tax code is so thick because of all the special interest that have built incentives into the tax code. We have got to simplify taxes.
APR: The VA scandal exposed the fact that most Federal employees can not be fired, even for incompetence. Should that change?
Pittman: Certainly it should change. I am fully supportive of the VA reforms that just passed and think that those reforms should be extended to other parts of the Federal government. The VA is a single payer system. Its problems shows the flaws that are inherent in that system.
APR: You have made defending the free enterprise system part of your platform. Some futurists on the left has suggested that in coming years robots will replace the cash register workers in stores and restaurants, factory workers, and driverless cars will eliminate jobs like cab operator, truck driver, garbage truck operator, dozer operator etc. They just that we are headed toward a future where most American adults do not actually work full time and that some sort of wealth redistribution system will pay every American an allowance for food, housing, healthcare, etc. Is this “brave new world” coming?
Pittman: There are going to ne innovations, but there is no substitute for human ingenuity…It is hard to project into the future; but I am confident that there will always be place for individuals to be successful. That is also why I have supported education.
APR: The F-35 fighter has failed to achieve some of the cost and performance objectives set by the Pentagon. Should we cut short the ambitious orders for the new aircraft and instead order less costly F16s, A10s, and F/A-18s.
Pittman: We are looking at getting F-35s in Montgomery; but we need to monitor that program to make sure that they perform as they need to. On the modern battlefield since World War I and certainly by World War II air superiority has been needed for success. I support whatever it takes to make sure that American armed forces will have everything that they need to maintain air superiority.
Pittman concluded: This is a very important election. I am a businessman. We, in Alabama, have not elected a businessman to the Senate since 1907. We need to get this economy growing. Get registered to vote and go to the polls.
Trip Pittman is one of ten Republicans who will be on the August 15, Special Primary Election to fill the Senate vacancy created when Senator Jeff Sessions (R) was confirmed as US Attorney General. Eight Democrats are running in the Special Democratic Primary. The Special General Election is December 12.