Charles Rucks introduced Westmoreland, saying he is a small businessman and the government needs fewer lawyers and more businesspeople in Washington.
“He’s right,” Westmoreland said. “I do believe in business.”
He said the government ought to create an optimum environment for growth and clear red tape. He said the government ought to be working with farmers to help them be more productive instead of imposing regulations that make their jobs more difficult. He singled out the newest version of the Clean Water Act that he said removed the word “navigable,” a situation that would lead to farmers needing to get federal permission to fertilize near creeks.
“Even if it’s just a wet-weather stream,” he said. “One thing we do not need is for the people who grow our food to deal with the Corps of Engineers every time they do something to their farm.”
He then criticized the current farm bill, saying that only 34 percent of it has to do with farming - the rest has to do with taxes, nutrition and conservation. He said the current farm law might need to be extended until the next year and raised the possibility of the United States becoming as dependent on foreign food as it is on foreign oil.
He then shifted to discussion of high diesel prices. After briefly criticizing House Speaker U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., for thinking gas was $2.55 per gallon, he said the Democrats’ energy bill is 386 pages and only mentions gas six times and crude oil 12 times. He said swimming pools are mentioned more than gas because the bill includes legislation related to pools.
He said he supports some of the measures in the bill - including energy-efficient light bulbs and geothermal power - but said he does not believe wind and solar can meet the country’s energy needs.
“We’ve got to start looking at nuclear power,” he said, citing the case of France, which generates 80 percent of its electricity using nuclear power. He said there is so much power in France that the French government encouraged people to leave their lights on to use more energy on the grid. He then said that opponents of nuclear power are fond of bringing up the accident at Three Mile Island, but said technology has changed in the last 30 years.
He also suggested drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and the outer continental shelf. He said Brazil recently made a large oil strike on the outer continental shelf and that the Chinese would be drilling in Cuban waters, closer to the U.S. mainland than U.S. companies are currently permitted to drill.
He then told a story about a black clergyman friend who, stalked by a lion while visiting Africa, prayed for safety and said “this prayer is for real,” before telling his audience that his concern for the United States is real and that people need to get more involved in the political process.
“Don’t sit back,” he said.
He told them politicians don’t have their best interests at heart.
“This is a serious thing,” he said. “This is for real.”
He said if the person in the mirror is not willing to work for change, change will not happen no matter how much a certain presidential candidate - an allusion to Barack Obama - talks about it.
Bill Mixon asked about immigration. Westmoreland said the current House immigration bill will not pass the Senate and the Senate bill won’t pass the House, but if the House passes a bill, the Senate will move.
He said that he wanted to add a provision to the current bill that would grant five-year temporary residency to illegal immigrants that do not misuse others’ identities, are not on government assistance and pay taxes into the system. He cited the case of a woman who overstayed her visa, married, had a child and could only get legal status by returning to Peru and waiting for several years before trying to come back legally.