Third District Rep. Jeff Duncan spoke to business leaders in the Greenwood community Thursday at the Greenwood Chamber of Commerce’s first event on the 2014 legislative series.
Duncan opened with a discussion on America’s debt issue. While describing the rapid rate at which the debt grows, Duncan got his iPad and opened up and app called “Uncle Sam’s Debt Clock.” The app, which is available for Apple, Android and Blackberry devices, uses real-time data from the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the U.S. Census Bureau to display the estimated national debt as well each American’s individual share of that debt. As the numbers rolled rapidly through the millions of dollars, Duncan said the debt had increased by about $100 billion in the last two days.
Duncan said there are two ways to address the debt problem in America.
“You can either cut spending and reduce your spending amount to lower the deficit or you can raise revenues,” Duncan said as he held his left hand above his head to demonstrate spending and his right hand near his waist to demonstrate revenues. “You can also do a blend of that where you lower spending some and revenue.”
Duncan said he agreed with President Obama’s assertion that deficits had been reduced by half, but disagreed as to why. Duncan said the reduction in deficits came as a result of raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans and the sequester, which reduced discretionary spending from about $1.05 trillion to $967 billion. Duncan believes that revenues from the tax increase will be reduced over time as those Americans in that tax bracket begin finding ways to move their money offshore or shelter the money from taxation. Duncan also noted that cuts made in sequestration ended with the passage of the omnibus spending bill last January.
Duncan said he believes American energy independence is one facet of addressing the debt problem.
“I believe energy is a segue to addressing some of our issues in this country,” Duncan said. “I believe energy and our energy independence or North American energy independence can help.”
Duncan touted the Transboundary Hydrocarbon Agreement between the U.S. and Mexico, which opened up the Gulf of Mexico for energy exploration and set forth a revenue sharing agreement between the U.S. and Mexico for those resources, as a step in the right direction. Duncan said energy independence could open up the economy and put many Americans back to work, not only in the energy industry, but also in the many industries which support energy industries.
Last month, Duncan reintroduced the Energy Exploration and Production to Achieve National Demand, or EXPAND, Act. The EXPAND Act cuts through some of the red tape when it comes to energy development and opens up the South Carolina coast for energy exploration. Opponents of energy exploration off South Carolina’s coast have expressed concern over drilling rigs having a negative impact on the state’s lucrative tourism industry. Duncan said the resources are between 70 and 120 miles off the coast, far beyond the visual horizon of about three miles at sea level.
Duncan wrapped up by disputing the assertion by many in the media that the Tea Party is to blame for the division in the Republican Party. Duncan said that those considered to be members of the Tea party voted in line with the Republican majority about two-thirds of the time while some of the Republicans who have been around Washington for a number of years voted in line with the Republican majority less than half the time.
Duncan also visited the Greenwood Genetic Center and Connie Maxwell Children’s Home while in Greenwood.