King says ‘America is back’
Representative Steve King said things are improving for the U.S., though he said Congress still has work to do.
“America is back,” King said. “We’re headed in the right direction, as frustrated as I am about some of the things we aren’t able to accomplish in Congress legislatively. The markets know it. The DOW recognizes it. The job creation numbers recognize that.”
He estimated 253,000 private sector jobs were created in May. King also sees improvements being made to international relations.
“The countries that were losing their faith in America standing with them, they’re getting that faith restored again,” King said. “Even Duterte, the president of the Philippines, as anti-America as he has become, seems to have softened a little bit toward President Trump.”
King said this may be because Duterte realizes President Trump cannot be intimidated and said other leaders, such as Russian President Vladamir Putin, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Chinese President Xi Jinping and German Chancellor Angela Merkel should take note of this.
King said a softer Duterte may be advantageous in addressing tensions with North Korea.
“Duterte doesn’t have any friends anywhere, and for good reason,” King said. “It’s not just the foul-mouth that he is, but it’s the foul things he engages in, or at least says he engages in. But he does need friends. When he can see North Korea, unlimbering their nuclear capability, he likes Americans better and we need those countries to be strong and confident that America is behind them. And he’ll be gone one day and we’ll have a more reasonable leader in the Philippines. I will make that prediction.”
The President had yet to officially announce his decision regarding the Paris climate accord during King’s visit to the region, but the congressman said he was supportive of exiting the agreement.
“I want to be out of the Paris accords,” King said. “I think this idea that the earth is getting warmer and it’s man’s fault is not supported by sound science and I’ve looked hard for that sound science.”
The congressman said he and German Chancellor Angela Merkel debated the topic intensely several years ago.
“We got to a place where she finally said to me, ‘Congressman, I am a physicist and you will not defeat me,’” King said. “But my answer is, ‘The meteorologist gave you the data you plugged into your physics formula.’”
Thursday, he compared climate change to European bans on GMO products, saying neither are based in scientific findings.
“It’s a political movement and that’s what global warming became,” King said. “We should be out of that deal if we can get out of it. That was President Obama trying to bind his successors, not through the legislature, but through an executive decision.”
King had previously expressed his disappointment in Congress’ failed attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act. However, the House made progress on that front earlier in May. He said the first bill had been pulled down for five weeks after votes fell short in March.
He said the new bill includes $999 billion in tax deductions that eliminate many Obamacare taxes that were put in place. The bill also includes $1.15 trillion in spending cuts and King estimated the bill could result in a $151 billion deficit reduction.
“That’s the heart of the bill,” he said. “Then it expands health savings accounts. It preserves the 26-year mandate. So, you can stay on your parents’ insurance until you’re 26.”
The Representative joked, saying a 26-year-old could then be elected to Congress and receive government health insurance coverage. He said he wasn’t fully in support of protecting those aspects of the bill but admitted the public seemed to value them. He said better provisions for preexisting conditions were created. Essential health benefits were also protected.
“States can ask for a waiver to opt out of them,” King said. “We’ll see how that works, I wanted to eliminate them entirely so our premiums could go lower.”
King expressed his hope that the Senate would pass the bill quickly so it can be signed by the President as soon as possible, but said the Senate seems to be writing their own bill. He said this makes a timeline for repeal unclear.
“Having this legislation balled up in Congress stalls the tax reform that we’ve got to do,” he said. “It just breaks up the momentum of a Trump mandate. So, I’m at a point of frustration.”
King said he intended to meet with Iowa Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst in the near future to discuss their take on the Senate’s progress.
The congressman is also waiting on another meeting. In April, King had said he would like to meet with President Trump and encourage him to end DACA and DAPA. King said he recently reminded White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus of the request for a meeting but said he understands that the West Wing’s schedule is busy.
“I think President Trump should have abolished DAPA and DACA the first day of his presidency, because they were both clearly unconstitutional,” King stressed. “Not doing so, when it was easier than it is now, is a disappointment to me and it’s one of the things I want to express to him.”
King plans to speak with Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly and see progress on border security measures, in the mean time.
“I’m committed to a wall and I don’t know that the President is as committed as I thought he would be, having looked at his budget and seeing $1.6 billion as his request for a wall,” King said. “If it had been $5 or $6 billion then I would have been more convinced. So, I’m going to help him get more serious.”
The President’s recent 10-day foreign policy trip to the Middle East struck Rep. King as successful. King highlighted the President’s diplomatic meeting in Saudi Arabia. He said the meeting of leaders from 50 moderate Sunni Muslim countries sent a message and laid the groundwork for defeating radical Islamic jihad, technologically, financially and educationally, through an alliance of Sunni Muslim countries. He said the alliance may also expand human intelligence gathering efforts.
“It puts the Muslim countries there in the Middle East in a place where it can be their boots on the ground and we support their boots on the ground,” King said. “We’re going to have to do some kinetic action, and that means, as I’ve long said, annihilating the caliphates where ever they are. If that requires boots on the ground, it can be the folks that live in that part of the world, with our support.”
King said the President’s stop at the Western Wall in Israel sent a positive message to Israelis, Jews worldwide and those who support them.
He categorized the President’s NATO discussions in Brussels as productive.
“It looked like President Trump convinced a good number of the NATO members to pay up their 2 percent GDP into NATO, not only to defend themselves from the east with U.S. support but also to redirect NATO resources in fighting terrorism and terrorists,” King said. “Even though Trump used some of his New York subway manners there at an inopportune time, I think there was a lot accomplished in that stop at NATO.”
King said the new agreement will likely make NATO stronger in the long run.
“That’s a hugely significant move to make, to have that kind of support pulled together and be able to deploy it in a lot of different ways against radical Islamists,” King said.
King reiterated his opinion that Trump’s unpredictability has empowered America.
“He’s willing to play some brinksmanship, he’s willing to use some military force — measured so far and I hope it stays measured — and he’s willing to shake up some trade agreements that people thought couldn’t be reopened again,” King said. “He’s willing to do business.”