David Perdue Cites Challenges and Opportunities Ahead in Washington

Georgia’s junior Senator David Perdue sounded a lot like candidate David Perdue on Thursday as he addressed a lunchtime meeting of the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce. He started out his talk by referring to himself as the outsider in a Senate dominated by 64 lawyers, and what he called career politicians. Much of his 25 minute speech was devoted to describing the issues he saw in Washington, and his prescriptions for solving those problems.

Saying that America was in a full blown crisis, Senator Perdue pointed to the passage of the New Deal in the 1930s, the Great Society programs of the 1960s, and the passage of Obamacare and Dodd-Frank during the Obama administration as major milestones, noting that all passed when there were supermajorities in the House and Senate.

The major issues facing America today include an overabundance of regulatory agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and the National Labor Relations Board. The second major issue is a crisis in global security and foreign policy, exemplified by ISIS and the Iran nuclear deal, which Perdue intends to vote against. Saying that it’s virtually impossible to have a strong military without a strong economy, Senator Perdue cited the $18 trillion national debt and the fact that the United States currently borrows 40% of what it spends.

Trying to solve these problems frustrates the businessman turned senator. While people outside Washington see gridlock as the cause of the inability to move forward in resolving these issues, the attitude in Washington is much different. Senator Perdue cited a meeting he had at the start of his term with a sitting senator. He was told, “the problem with you business guys is you come up here, and you get frustrated because you’re trying to get stuff done.”

While the political discussion involves deciding whether to increase taxes or cut spending, Perdue sees another possibility, which is commerce, free enterprise, and capitalism. However, he says, capitalism and economic freedom are damaged by government efforts to manage the economy. He pointed out that a 1% increase in the economy will produce $350 billion in tax revenue without a tax increase. But, he said, growing the economy becomes more difficult when companies leave the United States because of the country’s high corporate tax and repatriation tax rates.

Senator Perdue said the regulatory rules imposed by regulatory agencies hamper the economy, but admitted that there wasn’t too much that Congress could do to control them. The solution, he said, is to elect a president in 2016 who understands the economy, and will be willing to unto some of the programs holding it back.

But, the real potential driver of the economy that could drive prosperity for the next hundred years is the energy boom in the United States. In order to take advantage of it, though, the country needs to get its house in order.

Following his speech, Senator Perdue touched on the immigration issue that has been brought to the front by the Donald Trump campaign, and the Iranian nuclear agreement.

Donald Trump’s focus on immigration is striking a nerve because people know it needs to be dealt with. The solution, according to Senator Perdue, is to enforce the laws on the books, and to secure the nation’s border. But, the issue is more than building a fence. 60% of those entering the country illegally overstay their legal visas. And the flow of legal immigrants into the country may be more than we can handle. Right now, about 1.1 million legal immigrants enter the country each year, while historically, the number has been between 300 and 400 thousand annually.

Calling immigration a national security issue, Perdue would prefer separate measures dealing with border control, illegal immigration, and legal immigration rather than trying to enact a single comprehensive bill.

As a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Perdue has been measured on the agreement with Iran to limit its ability to develop a nuclear weapon. Ad more details emerge, he plans to vote no on what should be a non-partisan issue.

One part of the deal that frustrates Senator Perdue is that the United States gave in on allowing Iran to enrich nuclear fuel. He points out that five countries have the ability to enrich fuel, while 18 do not, and that we have let Iran jump to the head of the line. While President Obama says it’s between this deal or war, he calls that a false choice, and believes that continuing United States sanctions would be a better option.

And he thinks that if Congress approached the deal in a nonpartisan manner, it will be possible to narrowly override the president’s veto of a resolution of disapproval that is likely to be passed in September.