LIMA — As the national debt nears $22.5 trillion, Rep. Jim Jordan’s position on rising deficits is clear.
“We’re running out of time,” Jordan said during an interview with The Lima News. Jordan, Ohio’s 4th Congressional District’s Republican representative, visited the area Wednesday as part of a tour of the region undertaken during the House of Representatives’ six-week-long August recess.
“The revenues are up, and we should be scaling back some spending. You don’t have to take the spending curve from this to that or to even that. You have to take it from here to here,” Jordan said while demonstrating different trend lines with his hand. “Bend the direction that it’s going and show over time that you’re making some progress. Particularly if you got your economy growing at an even higher rate, you can make it work.”
But Jordan said before the national debt can be reduced, Republicans need to retake the House, and President Donald Trump needs to remain in office.
“(The debt) is the one thing that we haven’t really got a handle on. But the president has indicated that he wants to in his second term, which I think he gets. I really do,” Jordan said.
In Trump’s first two years of his term while Republicans still controlled the House, the national debt grew by $2.5 trillion while the country experienced an economic upswing. The latest 2020 budget estimates put Trump’s first term addition to the national debt at $5 trillion — an total increase comparable to President Barack Obama’s first term.
The national debt, however, was just one topic among many broached by Ohio’s 4th Congressional District representative. The immigration issue and civility in politics both took spots in the conversation.
Like other members of Congress, Jordan recently visited the southern border near McAllen, Texas, to tour government facilities holding immigration detainees and talk with customs officials about the steps needed to address the strain caused by an increased number of Central American families seeking asylum.
Jordan’s solution focused on three initiatives — increasing the length of time children and, therefore, families can be detained by reversing the Flores decision, increasing the number of judges to push cases along faster and building a wall on the southern border.
But doing one without the other will not solve the problem, Jordan said. All three are needed.
Jordan also called out Democratic House members for their unwillingness to solve the problem or approve the funds headed toward the border.
“Everyone knows what to do. It’s common sense, but Democrats won’t do it because they hate the president,” Jordan said.
Earlier this summer, the White House had asked Congress for $4.5 billion to be able to send more resources to the border, but the emergency aid bill found Democratic resistance due to a line-item that would expand ICE’s ability to hold more detainees. The bill was eventually passed and signed by Trump on July 1.
But while much of the national discussion on immigration has been the living conditions of the families seeking asylum, Jordan said a change in immigration laws, especially the Flores decision, should help reduce future strain on the system.
“If they know they’re not being let in and let go, and that there’s going to be a real adjudication, then it’s going to reduce the incentive to come,” Jordan said. “I think it’s all driven by the fact that they know, right now, that the law just allows it.”
Civility in politics
Jordan’s comments on civility in politics began with questions about his response to Gov. Mike DeWine’s initiative to pass red-flag gun laws in Ohio.
“I don’t think it’s helpful to the political debate when you say some of the things that are being said, frankly particularly by the left, about the president and the idea that the left says the president is responsible for what happened last weekend,” Jordan said referencing the recent mass shootings in Dayton and El Paso. “That’s just ridiculous. The people that are responsible are the people that do the terrible things.”
Instead, Jordan called for political actors to stop attacking individuals and return to debates over policy. A good example, Jordan said, is the type of discussions he has had in the past with Dennis Kucinich.
“Let’s have a debate. Dennis and I can have a debate. That’s fine. It should be robust. It should be intense, but I never question Dennis’s motives. He believes the things he believes. I believe in mine, and we’re going to fight for our positions. That’s how it’s supposed to work,” Jordan said. “Unfortunately, it’s just getting way too much going after people.”
Jordan, who often paints the left’s positions as radical, said personal attacks are changing the dynamic of politics.
“To say your opponent is a racist, which is what they’re saying about the president, which is absolutely not true … that’s the distinction. The intense debate is exactly how it’s supposed to work in American politics, but it should be focused on policy,” Jordan said. “That to me is the key distinction, and what I try to follow.”
When asked whether he thinks Republicans are blameless for the current political climate, Jordan pointed to Trump’s condemnation of white supremacy this past Monday.
“Our side has condemned any type of racially motivated policy. The president did in his remarks and appropriately so. The president did a good job Monday condemning. I’d like to see the same thing from the left,” Jordan said. “I’d like to see the left condemn Antifa and the violence they promote. That’s how it should be.”
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi condemned Antifa in August 2017 after violence led to arrests of demonstrators in the Bay area.
By the New York Times’ count, Trump has criticized 598 people, places and things on Twitter since announcing his candidacy. Among the list include Ohio gubernatorial candidate Richard Cordray, who Trump called a “big failure” and “clone of Pocahontas” (the president’s nickname for Sen. Elizabeth Warren), past Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who was labeled a “dummy,” “pathetic,” and “total failure” by the president, and most recently Sen. Sherrod Brown, who Trump called a “failed presidential candidate” despite never deciding to run for president.
Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.