Chatting with Rep. Tom Graves (R-GA)

“We want to get rid of ObamaCare and replace it with something that empowers families and individuals or, actually, what the President said years ago, he said if you like your insurance you can keep it. We sort of would like to see that happen, and that’s not happening right now.” — Rep. Tom Graves

In 2010, Republicans were able to capitalize on distrust of ObamaCare and the continued effects of the economic downturn and gain control of the House of Representatives. What many don’t realize is that the Tea Party wave was first kicked off during a special election for a open House seat in Georgia.

Tom Graves made a name for himself in the Peach State, taking principled stances for fiscal restraint and reform in the state legislature over the party line. He was able to dispatch an establishment-backed candidate in the special election and has taken his message of free markets and individual liberty to Washington.

On Tuesday, United Liberty caught up with Graves, who represents Georgia’s 14th Congressional District, to discuss the latest on the push to defund ObamaCare, which is one of his biggest legislative issues, and much more.

Graves explained that the push to defund ObamaCare is nothing new for him. This has been one of his goals since first coming to Congress, but he, like many in Washington, has been embolden by the Obama Administration’s recent delay of the individual mandate.

“It goes back to 2010, when I was first elected in that special election, the very first bill I introduced was to defund ObamaCare, and we reintroduced it each year, support has grown each year,” Graves told United Liberty. “And then when the President a few weeks ago made the declaration that he was going to suspend that portion of ObamaCare, the mandates for businesses, there’s renewed interest in defunding and we joined up with Sen. Ted Cruz, who is going to now lead the effort in the Senate — and I think he has 24 cosponsors — and we reintroduced ours along with him at the exact same time to have that strong push.”

“We’ve got numerous cosponsors, again, on our side. We’re going to see this now, and particularly because the House just last week voted to delay, not only the business mandate that the President has proposed or decreed, but as well as individuals,” he added. “The President wants to protect businesses from this crazy policy, why’s he leaving out hardworking Americans? We passed those two in the House, they’re now in the Senate. And with that spirit in mind, we’re thinking, ‘Well, there’s no reason to fund this thing if the attitude is to delay it or postpone it, push it off.’”

When asked about recent new stories that the push to defund ObamaCare could lead to a government shutdown, Graves explained that the House is simply tired of passing resolutions that simply continue funding for ObamaCare, which doesn’t address the needs of American families.

“[W]e’re going to be faced with another continuing resolution, which is not something that there’s a lot of appetite for in the House of Representatives, particularly if it funds ObamaCare,” said Graves. “This is going to be an interesting issue to watch develop over the next several weeks. And, of course, the Democrats will say it’s all about a government shutdown.”

“We want to get rid of ObamaCare and replace it with something that empowers families and individuals or, actually, what the President said years ago, he said ‘if you like your insurance you can keep it,’” he explained. “We sort of would like to see that happen, and that’s not happening right now.”

Graves has also emerged as one of the strongest advocates for civil liberties in the House, separating himself from Bush-era Republicans that seemingly disregarded the Constitution and Bill of Rights for sake of convenience. He has joined Rep. Kevin Yoder (R-KS) to push the Email Privacy Act,  a legislative effort to update privacy laws to bring the Fourth Amendment online.

“It was months ago when it was revealed by the IRS, of all folks, again. They said that they felt that they had the ability or the right to read personal emails in the event of an audit or something, that they could sequester those emails from individuals and use them as part of their investigation without a warrant,” Graves recalled. “I quickly objected to that and then got with Mr. Yoder and we put forth legislation to try to fix that and to define the fact that, no, not the IRS nor any other government agency has the right to personal emails without a warrant or cause.”

“We were able to incorporate that into the Financial Services appropriations bill, which oversees the Internal Revenue Service as well as several other agencies. In addition to that, we were also able to defund ObamaCare — the IRS’s implementation of ObamaCare or any funding for ObamaCare through the Internal Revenue Service,” he noted. “And we’ve passed that out of the full Appropriations Committee and its waiting to come to the floor.”

Graves explained the value of “protecting individual and their individual rights and individual liberties” in today’s world and noted that this should be common sense, given the federal government’s proclivity for overreach.

When it came to the concerns of the National Security Agency’s broad surveillance of innocent Americans, Graves expressed concern and explained that he would be supporting Rep. Justin Amash’s amendment to limit funding for the agency to actual investigations of wrongdoing.

He also gave us an update on congressional investigations into the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of Tea Party and conservative groups, pointing out that he was among the first in Congress to raise the issue.

“This is very disturbing, what’s occurred here. And it’s not so much even whether it’s conservative groups or liberals groups or individuals, and I know that the Democrats will say, ‘Well, liberals were targeted.’ Well, then you should be upset,” explained Graves. “We should all be furious of the fact that the power of the Internal Revenue Service was used against political opponents or any individuals or any American for any reason.”

“[T]hose who were involved have put on administrative leave, are still receiving pay and are not testifying. This is an outrage, what’s occurring here. That’s why on Appropriations, we have taken a very hard look at the IRS and slashed their budget in a very bold way to get them corrected and back in line,” he continued. “I was on Appropriations when all of that sort of blew up. I was, actually, I guess, the very first person over a year ago to ask the question, ‘Has your agency been targeting individuals based on their political beliefs?’ And it adamant, ‘No, absolutely not. Anyone who would suggest that is off.’ It comes to find out that not only was the truth not shared that day…it had been going on for a couple of years.”

We’ve got to get to the bottom of this, but it is up to Congress to do that, and the Oversight Committee is doing a great job doing their work. And in fact, we heard, last week, testimony from individuals who were in Cincinnati who said that their superiors knew what was going on or telling them to do it and approved of what was going on,” he added. “So it’s a matter of getting to those superiors. But the bottomline here is it’s about getting to the end, to the truth — who ordered these actions to take place? And regardless of who it was, what party it was, it’s wrong and we’ve got to get to the bottom of that and hold somebody accountable.”

Graves, who has long been a supporter a national retail sales tax to replace the income tax, expressed hope that the aftermath of the IRS scandal would provide Congress with an opportunity to discuss meaningful tax reform.

To note some positive developments, Graves explained that spending is at its lowest rate since 2008, a result of Republicans taking control of the House. But he noted that the fight for fiscal restraint is far from over.

“[A]s you talk about the various degrees or shades of Republicans, look, I’m one who has been very outspoken that the Republican Party is as much to blame for this out of control spending as Democrats over the years,” he noted. “But now, we’re actually turning that corner and we have the spending levels going down on the discretionary side, which I hope begins to now highlight what we’ve really got to focus on, and that is how do we address the 65% of government spending, which is through the entitlement programs that the federal government taxes for and spends on.”

If you interested in learning more about Rep. Graves and the issues he’s pushing in Congress, you can keep tabs on him on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram. You can also learn more via his congressional website.

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