Covering a wide variety of controversial topics ranging from gun rights, abortion and gay marriage, Congressman Morgan Griffith did not hold any opinions back while speaking to Carroll County High School students April 30.
In a 45-minute question and answer session with the school’s senior class, the Congressman representing Virginia’s 9th District said he loves visiting schools because his mother was a teacher for 30 years. He said he ran for Congress because he felt Washington was going in the wrong direction. The Congressman was asked a variety of excellent questions, with him noting at the end of the assembly that Carroll students asked some of the best questions he’s ever fielded from a group of students.
Asked what makes him decide what bills to vote for, Griffith said he tries to make his decision on the bill standing on its own merit. He said he reads every bill with the exception of one type.
“If somebody brings a bill in that says we are going to take away people’s gun rights, I only have to read the summary because I am not going to vote for anything that takes away people’s gun rights,” Griffith said to a background of applause. “I do read every bill and try to vote based on commonsense and what makes sense for the country, the commonwealth and the people of the 9th District.”
As a follow-up, Griffith was asked why he thought citizens should be able to have gun rights. The congressman said when the founding fathers drafted the Second Amendment to the Constitution, they had just finished defending themselves against the British a few years before. Those founding fathers felt like the British had taken away their rights.
“And so the reason I support our gun rights is because I believe it is an inherent right we have to keep because while today I think our government has problems, I don’t think the government has so many problems we need to get a new government,” Griffith said. “That being said, there may be a time when the government becomes tyrannical and the citizens themselves may need to defend themselves from what is recognized currently as legitimate government. When Thomas Jefferson put that pen down on the paper to write the Declaration of Independence, he was saying the government is no longer the lawful rulers of our country. They have broken the contract, the British have with the people, and it is we the people who have the responsibility to make sure we are being governed properly. And you can’t do that if all you have is paper to defend yourself with.”
Griffith was then asked for his opinion on gay rights. He said he didn’t think anybody ought to be harmed because of what they do behind closed doors. He believes that is their business.
“However, for those folks who want gay marriage, I do not support gay marriage. I believe marriage is an institution between one man and one woman,” Griffith said, again receiving a loud round of applause from the audience. “There all kinds of complicated philosophical reasons for that, but that’s my belief and I believe it is the right way to go for our county.”
Asked if his opinion had ever been swayed by members of his own political party, Griffith said yes. Asked if he was ever swayed by the same people if it was against the best interest of the people, the congressman said no.
“If I believe something is inherently bad for the people, I don’t vote for it,” Griffith said. “And it gets tough sometimes, I was not in favor of SOPA, I voted against the extension of the Patriot Act, which my party supported. To many people’s chagrin, I did vote for the new deal that deals with cyber security.”
Asked about abortion, Griffith’s answer was short and to the point.
“I don’t support abortion, and certainly not to use the taxpayers’ dollars to support abortion. I think it is wrong,” Griffith said, drawing more applause. “The Supreme Court has ruled there is a right in doing that, but spending taxpayers’ dollars on that I think is very wrong.”
Logan Hodges asked the congressman what he felt like was the most important issue facing our nation today. Griffith said he felt jobs and the creation of jobs were the most important issues facing America. He said even though we are the richest country in the world when it comes to natural resources, we are shipping our jobs and our natural resources overseas. At the same time, he said the government continues to put in new regulations that American businesses cannot meet or will cost them a fortune to meet.
“We also have to look at our tax system. We now have the dubious distinction of having the highest corporate tax rate in the world and we charge companies based in the United States if they transfer money from one subsidiary to one they own in Australia, we tax them on the money they own even though they are investing it in that way,” Griffith said. “No other country in the world does that, so that discourages American companies from making investments in other places. A German company doing exactly the same thing competing with American companies doesn’t have to pay that tax when they transfer money from a wholly-owned company in one country to a wholly-owned company in another, and really we are hurting ourselves in the international business world.”
Another student asked the Congressman if he thought President Obama was doing a good job. Generally, the Congressman said he did not feel the president is doing a good job, drawing laughter and more applause from the students.
“There are lots of policies I don’t’ agree with him on, and there are some I do agree with him on,” Griffith said. “I think he has a few things that are right, but I would say about 90 percent I disagree with him.”
Another student wanted to know how the country could get anything done if Republicans and Democrats can’t agree on anything. Griffith said the American public has put government in an interesting situation with a president and senate that are pretty far left of center, in his opinion, and a House of Delegates that is right of center.
“If you don’t give up your principles it makes it hard and both sides have that dilemma. Right now, and keep in mind I am a Republican, the Democrats right now don’t want to agree. They cast a bill that made student loan interest rates go up July 1 of this year, and the president says we have to fix this problem,” Griffith said. “The Republicans come out with a bill we voted on last week to fix the problem. And they decided because we were taking the money out of a slush fund created in ObamaCare, that somehow we were attacking women. And they voted against the bill to fix the problem for student loans, not withstanding the fact that the president himself in his budget proposal took $4 billion out of that very same fund. Was the president when he made that proposal trying to hurt women’s health? I don’t think so.”
He said a lot of the problems stem from the Senate’s unwillingness to do anything. The Senate hasn’t passed a budget in over 1,000 days, he added.
“We’ve sent a budget over there and they haven’t responded. We have sent a lot of bills over to the Senate, but it is hard to compromise when you don’t have anybody working with you,” Griffith said. “I don’t really blame the president unless he is telling the Senate leadership not to do it, but I do blame the Senate leadership for not bringing their version, what their view of America ought to be to the table. Then we might be able to get compromise. It has been very frustrating.”