When asked Friday to weigh in on President Obama's latest budget proposal, U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks, R-5th, described it as nothing more than a “Christmas wish list” that no one in Congress takes seriously.
Obama's $4.1 trillion budget calls for a major new tax on crude oil that would raise the price of gasoline, currently averaging about $1.80 a gallon nationwide, by about 24 cents. It also calls for a 10-year, $400 billion initiative for "clean" transportation projects and other infrastructure; a $19 billion, 35 percent increase for cybersecurity, and additional funding for a summertime food program for children who receive free lunches during the school year.
Other tax increases include a .07 percent fee on larger banks that would raise about $10 billion a year; reducing the value of itemized deductions taken by wealthier taxpayers to raise a whopping $646 billion over a decade; almost doubling the approximately $1 per pack federal cigarette tax; and a new proposal to require a greater number of wealthier people pay a 3.8 percent Obamacare tax surcharge.
The so-called "Buffett Rule" would require a minimum 30 percent tax rate for upper-income earners.
“(Obama's) never gotten more than two votes out of 435 congressmen,” Brooks said. “(His budgets) are irrational and based on the concept that money grows on trees. They're financially irresponsible.”
Brooks said Obama's budgets do not address the nation's spiraling debt, which now stands at $19 trillion. That amount equates to $58,871 per U.S. citizen and $158,902 per taxpayer.
“Washington's effort to address the deficit and debt problem is akin to trying to use a squirt bottle to stop the Titanic from sinking,” he said.
Obama last week also called on Congress to approve $1.8 billion in funding to combat the Zika virus. A Morgan County resident recently tested positive for the disease.
Brooks wasn't entirely against the idea to provide funding to fight the virus, but said Obama would have to present a way to pay for it.
“Just to borrow another $1.8 billion on the heels of dire warnings we're getting about America's financial condition makes no sense,” he said. “If Barack Obama wants to take $1.8 billion from an entitlement program, bearing in mind entitlement programs consume $2.2 trillion in taxpayer money, we'd consider that.”
In discussing the current stable of Republican presidential candidates, Brooks is an unabashed supporter of Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. Not only is Brooks endorsing Cruz, he's also chairing Cruz's campaign efforts in Alabama.
Despite losing in New Hampshire on Tuesday, Brooks feels good about Cruz's chances in Alabama on March 1.
“He will come in first if Alabama voters learn enough about Donald Trump's background and policy positions and get past the veneer and into the substance of what Trump stands for,” Brooks said. “If (voters) are enamored by the persona and veneer, many will find Trump an attractive candidate.”
The congressman pointed to Trump's support of imminent domain to seize private property and added Trump supports universal health care at taxpayer expense. Brooks also described Trump's immigration position on border security as being worse than Obama's.
“He says he wants to build this great big wall with a great big door and deport all these illegal aliens, costing taxpayers billions of dollars in deportation costs, and then he wants to let them all back in legally,” he said. “The only difference between Obama's border policy and Trump's amnesty policy is Trump wants to to spend billions on a fruitless exercise. If he wants to deport them, that's good, but to let them come back in legally and take jobs from Americans, that's bad.”
Brooks' last critique of Trump is simply that the business tycoon is a potty mouth whose morals and values don't align with the average Alabamian. During a speech in New Hampshire, Trump goaded a female audience member to shout out her opinion of Cruz, which was a one-word slang term for a woman's genitals. Trump then repeated the word, though he attributed it to the audience member.
“When (Trump) uses the harshest profanity one can imagine in front of little children and on national TV, those aren't Alabama values,” Brooks said. “Parents are fighting Hollywood, trying to instill proper moral values in our children, and then to have a candidate for president who utters harsh profanity and slang terms on national TV is just repulsive.”
The other side
When asked about the Democratic race between Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Brooks summed it up as the battle of socialist ideas. He said anyone who believes socialism in action is a good idea should look at Venezuela.
“Their economy is in shambles, their inflation rate was 275 percent, so their currency is collapsing,” he said. “People are starving and crime is on the uptick. That's what you get when you play with socialism.”