April 19, 1995 in City

Nethercutt Recounts Gop Actions

By The Spokesman-Review

Congress is tackling America’s problems by cutting the federal government and strengthening families, U.S. Rep. George Nethercutt said Tuesday night.

Along the way, it may trade the current income tax system for a flat rate tax, the freshman Republican told a crowd of about 275 people at North Central High during his first town hall meeting in Spokane.

It may also audit the Federal Reserve Bank system, abolish the Education and Energy departments, and sell timber that’s rotting on the floors of federal forests.

“What we’ve done in the House is make a massive course correction,” Nethercutt said as he recounted the activity of the first three months of the new Republican Congress.

Some of those actions are misunderstood, he said.

“Children will not go hungry in this country,” he said when asked about changes to the school lunch program. Republicans believe they can cut the rate of increase, turn the nutrition programs over to the states and have more money spent on children.

He drew cheers when he defended a two-year limit on welfare benefits as a way to cut dependency. People need incentives to work and teenagers need disincentives to have children outside of marriage, he said.

One college student drew scant applause when he asked why Nethercutt had voted against environmental interests by reducing regulations to protect air and water.

“I didn’t vote against environmental interests. What I did vote against was over-regulation and encroachment by government on private property rights,” replied Nethercutt, to much louder applause.

The town hall meeting was sponsored by the United We Stand America organization, which has its roots in Ross Perot’s independent presidential campaign. It drew seniors concerned about Social Security and conservatives concerned about United Nations’ command of U.S. troops.

While those have been standard topics at Spokane forums for years, Nethercutt’s first meeting in his hometown provided an interesting contrast to those of the man he defeated last November.

Former House Speaker Tom Foley was professorial, and could recite the minute details of obscure topics or bills. Nethercutt was amiable but general.”We’re going to make America more productive by having less money go to the federal government,” he said.

It was also more overtly partisan than a Foley meeting. The former Democratic leader often took pains in his Republican-leaning district to point out areas where he agreed with GOP presidents.

Nethercutt urged his audience to support Republicans.

“This peaceful revolution isn’t going to happen unless we stay in the majority,” he said. “It’s going to take a Republican presidency.”

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