On Saturday, July 19th, I had the chance to sit down with State Senator William Cassidy, candidate for Congress in the 6th congressional district. The Senator and I talked over the issues at Louie’s near LSU.
Louisiana Conservative: First of all, Good Morning, Senator. I’m glad we got this opportunity to sit down and talk. We’re all looking forward to watching you make this run for Congress. I just have a few questions that are on the minds of a lot of people, starting right off with one of the big “hot button issues” of the day, and that’s energy. On both sides of the aisle there are a lot of questions being asked. Some support drilling off the coast, in ANWR and anywhere that we can produce more oil, while others hesitate to drill, preferring different means. What do you think about this issue?
Senator William Cassidy: We should expand drilling. We should open up areas that are currently closed. The idea that we can encourage some states by revenue sharing is a good idea. Another thing, we also know that we can now drill in environmentally sensitive areas without the same risk of pollution that once existed. After Katrina, the losses that occurred from oil spillage were not from the rigs, it was from storage tanks floating up, it was from old infrastructure that leaked. We’re talking about new areas; we’re talking about newer infrastructure that further minimizes the risk. In a way, that benefits Louisiana. We know that in Louisiana we’re going to supply a lot of those off-shore oil drilling platforms. Our core competency includes building boats for off-shore oil, building rigs, Louisiana people to do the work and to teach others to work on the rigs. So, not only is it good for our country, it’s good for our state.
LC: One of the other areas that people are feeling the energy crunch is in the price of electricity. Another dividing issue here is nuclear energy. Where do you stand on that?
WC: Isn’t it ironic that nuclear energy has become the green energy? No carbon footprints. That’s the interesting thing about it. So, the reality is the regulatory problem with building a nuclear plant is such that it’s not feasible. We’ve got to improve the regulatory environment so that we’re able to build nuclear without pricing it out. We need to invest in it. France? Eighty percent of their electricity comes from nuclear energy. They ship electricity to the surrounding countries. They’ve clearly made a tremendous impact on the consumption of fossil fuels. We should encourage that.
LC: Being a physician yourself, these next two questions, you would seem uniquely qualified to answer. Where, in your opinion, does life begin?
WC: In utero. I’m pro-life. Life begins in utero. In some ways we acknowledge that in our laws, and in some ways we don’t. Clearly this is a problem that society has to work on, and it’s going to be hard; but, I’m an optimistic person and I’m optimistic that even people who are pro-choice say they want to limit abortion, and that shows we’ve won the moral argument. Everyone agrees that it’s not a good thing, now it’s just “how do we stop it.”
LC: The second question is that of our health care system. You hear a great deal about nationalizing the health care system. Is this really a good idea?
WC:I work for a government run health care system. I’ve been doing it for twenty years. It gives me an opportunity to serve people who are uninsured. Having said that, most of the people I treat are uninsured. People vote with their feet and move to the private sector. The private sector has been able to respond more quickly and to meet patient needs more effectively. I am strongly in favor of maintaining a privately run health care system.
LC:Some of the folks that I have talked to are particularly concerned that Congress will not renew the tax cuts that President Bush put into place. Do you feel that they should be made permanent?
WC:The power to tax is the power to destroy. If you raise taxes, you decrease productivity. That’s the bottom line. It’s always fool’s gold. You think that if you raise taxes, you’ll increase government revenue and reduce government deficits. No one likes government deficits. The fact is, though, that you reduce productivity and tax receipts are going to go down. John F. Kennedy put it best, “Times of recession are times that you decrease taxes.” George H.W. Bush did it wrong. Just as we were coming out of a recession, he increased taxes. When he did so, we deepened our recession and he lost his Presidency. So history as a guide, we should not increase those tax rates.
LC:With the reduction of taxes comes the question of spending. If we reduce the rate of tax money coming in, should we not also reduce the amount of money going out?
WC:Absolutely. Earmarks get a lot of attention. It’s kind of like going backpacking with the scouts. My son is a scout. They say, “If you watch the ounces, the pounds take care of themselves.” So with earmarks, it’s a substantial amount of money, but people say it’s a small percentage of the budget. If you’re so conscious that “this is an earmark and we don’t have the money. We have to watch that penny.” If you watch the pennies, the dollars take care of themselves. Or in the federal government you might say, if you watch the millions, the billions will be taken care of. So, we need to be so conscious about it. Not just the earmarks, but the new entitlements, etcetera. If we can’t pay for it, we shouldn’t do it.
LC:Talk radio is very near and dear to my heart, because it’s so close to what I do here. I hear a great deal on talk radio about the “fairness” doctrine. How do you feel about it?
WC:Well the fairness doctrine is obviously a return to a time when the regulated airwaves had to have equal time for different candidates. Clearly that didn’t prevent newscasters from expressing their personal opinion in subtle ways, or presenting a particular candidate in a positive or negative fashion. The fact is, with the diversity of media we have now, the fairness doctrine seems like an old legal doctrine that doesn’t need to apply to the radio waves, or the print media, or the internet. My gosh, if you can’t be on the internet now with your particular viewpoint, then you don’t have any sense of how to use technology.
LC:I just have one more major question for you, and it has been a major issue for several years. Things in Iraq seem to be starting to ease up. How do you feel about what’s going on there, and how it has been handled?
WC:Wow. It’s interesting. The Democrats have been saying that the surge wouldn’t work. The surge clearly has worked. Now they’re saying we were wrong on that, but we’ll be right on the next step. Whatever your feelings about the beginning of the war, the fact is; we’re in there now, and the surge worked. Also, I saw in the paper this morning that President Bush is announcing a plan for ultimate troop withdrawal. We’ve done that while stabilizing the country and theoretically bringing its oil supply back online for the short term future. If we’re successful, what will emerge is a country that is a bulwark against terrorism. So, our troops should be home as soon as possible, but not a day too soon. The surge has worked, and to say that we’ll have the troops home in six months no matter what is a foolish policy.
LC:Senator, I really appreciate you time today, it has been an honor and a privilege.
WC:Thanks, I enjoyed it.