Q & A with U.S. Rep. Gregg Harper

The Star: How many more bailouts will we see? Is this the proper answer to our economic crisis?

Harper: “We have a lot of people that are hurting and we’re very sensitive to that. We have lots of folks who have lost fortunes, their life savings, their jobs … it’s serious. But what we’ve heard — that this is the worst economy since the Great Depression — is not accurate. It’s bad, but it’s not that. What’s more accurate: this is the worst economy since Jimmy Carter. That would be accurate.

One of the ways they recovered from that was across the board tax reductions. We can’t just throw money at it and with more government programs. That won’t work.

“It would be one thing if we were taking care of the people who are suffering — what about the folks in Mississippi who lost their life savings with WorldCom? But we’re taking care of big entities who have mismanaged themselves. I have a problem with some of those issues.

“I think the release the of the additional $350 billion is not a good idea. I just think right now if you really care about children, then we don’t need to make our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren get saddled with the national debt that they’ll never be able to get out of.

“When you’ve dug yourself a hole, stop digging. That’s what I’ve always been told. But we’ve brought in heavy equipment to keep digging. There’s no way to get it out. Those are going to be the ongoing battles. Their solution is going to be more government and more regulation and I just think that’s a really bad idea.

The Star: What is the most pressing issue that your constituency will be facing in the coming year that you hope to address?

Harper: “Most of our folks back home — yes there were foreclosures and lost jobs — but most were doing OK until $4 a gallon of gas. That hurt our students, our low income folks, our seniors … and we haven’t fixed it. We’re already seeing it inch back up. We’ve done absolutely nothing to fix it. We have some folks over here in government policy positions and their goal is the reduction and use of fossil fuels. They have a micro goal when they should have an overall goal that includes some control that allows us to drill offshore and any place when can get natural gas … and things like clean coal technology in Kemper County. And we have to explore nuclear. We should be about anything that keeps us from sending our nation’s wealth to the Middle East or other foreign countries. I just don’t think we can afford going back to $4 gas. We’ve got to fix that

Meridian Star