One of the perks of being a journalist is you get to have fancy lunches with important people. So when Todd Poole, who works for 13th District Congressman Ted Budd, called and said they wanted to get together for lunch, I wondered if I was dressed appropriately. It turns out I was, because we had lunch at Yum Yum on Spring Garden Street.
Budd had spent the morning with Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson touring the area of east Greensboro damaged by the tornado on April 15. Budd said he had been in the area on April 16, the day after the tornado struck, and had also toured the area with Vice President Mike Pence when he was in town.
Budd was taking part in a housing symposium at UNCG with Carson, and I don’t know where the rest of the participants in that symposium had lunch, but it wasn’t better than ours. Budd had two hot dogs all the way with no buns and a Cheerwine. I had the same thing without the Cheerwine. We both try to avoid carbs when we can.
While the news out of Washington has been dominated by all the investigations and accusations over the 2016 election, according to Budd, Congress has been getting work done without a lot of attention.
Budd said, “Tax reform is huge.” Tax reform has gotten a lot of publicity and I was interested in hearing what else Congress has been doing.
Budd said that tax reform was the first step, and one of the things that the Republicans in Congress had been doing that didn’t get nearly as much publicity was repealing the regulations that were choking the life out of business.
He said the Congressional Review Act (CRA) gave Congress the right to repeal regulations. Budd said, “We pass a bill that actually disapproves of a regulation.” He said it hadn’t been used since 2001, and was only used once then, but in the last 15 months CRA had been used 15 times. Budd said that it only took 51 votes to pass in the Senate and that it wasn’t subject to the filibuster rules, so these bills repealing regulations had been passed and signed into law.
One of the constant complaints you hear from representatives is that they pass bills that go to the Senate and never see the light of day again because of the arcane rules on passing bills in the Senate, where having the majority doesn’t count for much.
Budd said that the use of CRA to repeal regulations “has made businesses more confident to invest and they are no longer afraid to hire people.”
Budd said that the regulations passed during the Obama years were choking businesses and making the owners afraid to spend the money needed to grow.
Budd also said that passing the Financial Choice Act repealing parts of the Dodd-Frank Act was a regulation reform act for small banks. Budd said this came to the Financial Services Committee, where he is a member, so he had a role in getting it passed. He said that despite the fact that it was watered down in the Senate, it had still had a major impact on banking.
Budd said that what the bill did has often been misrepresented by the media because the effect was on small banks, not the big banks. He said that before the Financial Choice Act passed, there were no new banks forming and the small banks that did exist were forced to merge with larger banks because of the cost of complying with all the regulations. He said that since the passage of that bill, three or four new banks had formed in the area and more were expected.
Budd said, “The stuff I support helps the most people.” And he said that the tax reform bill and doing away with regulations had resulted in the lowest unemployment rate in years, and that growing the economy so that people can find jobs helps people.
Budd said that because of the tax reform, a furniture company in High Point had been willing to invest in $1 million worth of new machinery that was going to result in hiring more employees.
Budd said that one thing that surprised him about Washington was how much misinformation there was. He said, “I get accused of voting for things that we didn’t do.”
He said, “I don’t want to get too comfortable in Washington but I do want to be effective.” Budd still sleeps in his office when he is in Washington and said, “Sleeping in the office isn’t the lap of luxury.” But he said it helped him keep focused on the five counties he serves, his home and his family.
He said he didn’t like being away from home so much, but that he believed the work he was doing in Washington was valuable and that’s where you have to be to do it.
Budd said that a personal accomplishment that a lot of people outside of the Beltway didn’t recognize was being named to the Financial Services Committee, also known as the House Banking Committee, as a freshman. He said he ran a campaign to get on the committee and credited a very good staff with making it happen.
Budd said he figured he had two years to prove that he could do the job he said he would do and then the voters could decide whether “I did what I said I was going to do and kept my promises.
He said he supported a constitutional amendment setting term limits but that he wasn’t going to unilaterally disarm himself by agreeing to term limits that didn’t apply to everyone.
He said, “While I’m in there I’m going to be really effective.”
About the topic that the rest of the country is obsessed with Budd said, “I’m pushing for [special prosecutor Robert] Mueller to finish, but I don’t want him fired.”
Budd said that it looked like a second special prosecutor might be necessary to investigate some of the matters that have been revealed about what the FBI was doing during the last election.
Budd has a formidable opponent in November, Kathy Manning, who has never run for office but is known as a prodigious fundraiser.
It’s pretty much a given that Manning will win Guilford County, but, as he noted, it’s a five county district and Budd shares Guilford County with 6th District Congressman Mark Walker, who has the northern and eastern portion of the county.
The 13th Congressional District is one that the Democrats think they have a chance of winning and the Republicans don’t want to lose. The race is likely to attract some national attention and money.