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Interview with Marsha Blackburn

Interview with Marsha Blackburn

By RealClearPolitics - December 15, 2009

Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn, who represents the 7th Congressional District of Tennessee, spoke with RealClearPolitics in a phone interview Monday afternoon to discuss politics, health care and the climate change summit in Copenhagen, which she will be attending this week.

RCP: Two Democrats from swing districts in Tennessee have now announced they will retire at the end of the 111th Congress. Do you think these signal what will be a difficult 2010 for Democrats nationwide? And what does this say about the political landscape in your state?

BLACKBURN: As far as the political landscape in our state, I think that what we continue to see is that Tennessean voters are more independent and more conservative and they are watching issues very closely, they are watching votes very closely. Going back to when our state went through the state income tax battle -- at that point in time Tennesseans started watching very closely the legislative process, both at the state level and at the federal level. And we have continued to see those who are fiscal conservatives move forward and be elected to positions.

RCP: If the economy improves by November, do you think Democrats will still be in as much danger as they appear now to be?

BLACKBURN: I don’t think that that’s an automatic signal that they’re going to do better. I think people are looking at jobs. What is going to happen with the jobs landscape? What is going to happen with job creation? Stability and certainty within the marketplace? So you could still see an uptick in the economy and not see jobs come back in the manner that they should, and it is going to be a very difficult environment. Also, the legislation that has been pushed by this administration has caused so many individuals to be very concerned about Washington spending. When they look at the bailout, the takeover of GM, the takeover of student loans, what they’re doing with health care, what they’re doing with cap-and-trade and the energy sector. People really are very concerned when they put their head on the pillow at night -- they’re concerned that America may cease to be what America has been because we are leveraging the future of our children and our grandchildren. And you’ve got China acquiring that debt.

RCP: Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin said this morning on CNBC that he does not think Obama would be elected president if another election were held today. Do you agree with that?

BLACKBURN: What you have to look at is the atmosphere and the environment. The environment for politics right now is very different from what it was -- people wanted change, they wanted some things done differently. But as a constituent said to me this weekend, he felt like looking at folks that had voted and supported that change, and say ‘How’s that change working for you now?’ Because people are very focused on the economy and on jobs, and this has been a very difficult economic environment. It’s a difficult environment for small businesses, and this is not the kind of change they wanted to see.

RCP: Democrats in the Senate appear so far to be unable to come to an agreement on a comprehensive health care reform bill. Should they come to an impasse and not be able to get 60 votes, what would Republicans in the House and Senate like to see happen with health care?

BLACKBURN: If they can’t get 60 votes for it in the Senate, that should be -- again -- another indication this bill needs to be tossed aside, and we need to start over on reform and address some of the components people want to see addressed. Look at the insurance market, the reforms that need to take place there. Make certain that we have some accountability. Address affordability. Address liability reform. Those are items that people want to see addressed. There is a way to do that. And we have presented alternative after alternative. We have, I think it is, over 50 separate, stand-alone bills that will address some of these components. Let’s go in here and work on this in the appropriate way -- not try to throw out the entire health care sector, saying, ‘Well, health care costs too much.’ Yes, we all agree with that, but what they’re going to do is make it cost that much more. Come back in here and look at what you do to actually get the cost down. And there are ways to do that. We can do that in the appropriate way that is going to make health care more affordable, allow more people to actually purchase health insurance. Look at how we incentivize -- incentivize -- efficiencies and how we incentivize people accepting responsibility for their health and their health care and their medical care. And go at it a different way. My goodness, the Democrats have just become the party of punishment, and they are carrying that to the extreme when it comes to health care.

RCP: You are leaving later this week for the world climate talks in Copenhagen. As a member of the minority party, what is your goal there and what would you like to see come of the summit?

BLACKBURN: There are a couple of things that I think we can do in Copenhagen that will really help to redirect some of this activity. No. 1, we need to start with Climate-gate and those e-mails -- and say isn’t this a cause for concern? Shouldn’t we look at this e-mail chain and then look at the science that was affected by this, the outcomes that were affected by this and review some of that science. It’s an unsettled science. We also need to have a little bit more discussion about -- is cap-and-trade and the punishment you’re putting on industry the way to go about it? Or is going about it a different way, where you incentivize some of the developing technologies and do it in a business-friendly way so that you create jobs rather than destroy jobs. Republicans are for clean water, clean air and clean energy. We are not for taxing people out of their house, home and business to pay for it. And that is the fundamental difference between the Democrats and Republicans on this issue.

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