Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Arizona, is fully behind President Trump’s demand for full congressional funding for a border wall and both he and his constituents are exasperated with the state’s two Republican senators for offering no solutions of their to overhaul or repeal Obamacare.
Gosar is a member of the House Freedom Caucus who fended off a primary challenger backed by national party allies in 2016. He says the GOP Senate is a major disappointment, with the failure to address Obamacare as the prime example of its inability to get things done.
“What has the Senate done? They copped out on Obamacare. And to my senators (Republicans John McCain and Jeff Flake), if you didn’t like what the House put forward, where are your ideas?” said Gosar, a dentist who first ran for Congress as part of the tea party wave in 2010.
He says while politicians are posturing, people in his state are suffering from Obamacare.
“We’re catastrophically moving down this pathway where we’re seeing Americans getting a 40-90 percent increase in their premiums coming up. Obamacare is failing. There’s not enough money to fix it. We’re seeing Medicare being implemented in all the group plans, so it behooves us to be big boys and girls and have that conversation,” said Gosar.
Gosar says the anger of Arizonans towards McCain and Flake is palpable everywhere he goes.
“They’re furious at our senators. There isn’t one meeting I don’t have where people are going off on our two senators. Leadership comes at a price and that means you have to put solutions on te table. That means that ‘No’ can;t be your answer, it’s going to be what it takes to be ‘Yes,'” said Gosar.
In addition to hearing his constituents vent about their senators, he’s also hearing about their hardships created by our current health care system.
“I have represented most of the rural parts of Arizona. They’ve got a piece of paper that says they have health insurance but they can’t afford to pay the co-pays and deductibles. It’s a travesty. They see no job growth out here. They don’t see opportunity. Those were all the things they were promised,” said Gosar.
Gosar says Trump has done what we can to improve conditions but Congress needs to do the heavy lifting.
“Whether it be tax breaks, tax cuts, getting government out of the way, this president has done his fair share with the Congressional Review Act and with executive orders to streamline the regulatory process. Now Congress has got to respond. It can’t continue working in a broken, dysfunctional fashion,” said Gosar.
Dr. Kelli Ward, a former Arizona state senator, is already running against Flake in next year’s GOP primary. Ward challenged McCain last year and lost badly in the primary, leaving some conservatives to push for Gosar and other conservatives to enter the fray.
Gosar says he’s thought about but is not close to any decision.
“We’ll see. That’s as good as we can say at this point in time,” said Gosar. “We want to make sure that we’re doing the right thing at the right time for the right reason. I don’t need another title, I’ve got four titles above congressman: that’s a husband, a father, a citizen, and a doctor,” said Gosar.
Just a few days ago, President Trump held a campaign rally in Phoenix. In addition to sparring with the media and defending his response to the chaos in Charlottesville, Trump demanded Congress fund his central campaign promise of a wall along the southern border, even vowing to shut down the government to make it happen.
Gosar says no one should be surprised by Trump’s blunt tactics.
“This gentleman is not built as a politician and that’s why America voted him in. He’s a disrupter. The business as usual has got to stop. We’re $20 trillion in debt,” said Gosar.
He also says not approving the money would be a huge mistake.
“I don’t think I would cross the president and I don’t think I would cross the American people. This is something the American people want. So far the Senate has let them down in regards to promises they made on Obamacare and so I think they’re getting restless. They don’t see solutions but they see a man that’s struggling to make sure that he honors the promises that he made to those people,” said Gosar.
Gosar also asserts that the controversy over the wall is only a creation of the past decade.
“The wall was authorized over a decade ago and it was a bipartisan effort. A sovereign country has a right to defend and dictate it’s borders,” said Gosar.
So how did this become such a political lightning rod?
“It’s because the political correctness in the media has gotten into people,” he said.
Another hot-button issue is the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA. He says all contracts ought to be renegotiated every few years and NAFTA has been on the books for more than two decades. He says the issues of border security and trade are very closely linked.
“I think these are all interwoven and I think the president has a good thought process about how to drag all these together to get what he believes the American people want because they voted for him. He made no qualms about border security and building the wall,” said Gosar.
Gosar also applauds Trump sending more border patrol agents and immigration judges to stem the tide of illegal entries and to adjudicate cases much more quickly. He does, however, urge the president to make more personnel nominations in the Justice Department and elsewhere to improve the effort even more.
But with Trump in a very public battle with members of his own party about blame over Obamacare and other issues, will any big ticket items on the GOP agenda actually get done when Congress returns next month?
Gosar says they have no choice.
“Winston Churchill made the famous analogy saying, ‘You can always count on Americans to do the right thing when they’ve exhausted everything else. Well, here’s our sign looking at Congress.. We’ve exhausted everything else, at least from the House. We’ve got over 200 bills over there waiting on the Senate to take a look at,” said Gosar.
While he can’t say for sure what will get done, Gosar says if one big thing can get to Trump’s desk, other major priorities will fall like dominoes.
“The atmosphere is going to be very confrontational. It’s going to be very high stakes. But once that first brick falls, a lot of this stuff is going to fall right in line,” said Gosar, who personally hopes Obamacare repeal is the first brick to fall.
“I would hope that it’s health care, because I think that sets the stage for tax breaks [and] the budget and that looks at a positive influence for the American people to move forward,” said Gosar.