Representative J. Randy Forbes visits R-MC

Congressman Randy Forbes is a Republican from Virginia’s Fourth District and a graduate of Randolph-Macon’s class of 1974.

He has served in the House since 2001, and served as a Virginia State Senator from 1998-2001.

Representative Forbes currently serves in the House Committee on Armed Services and on the Judiciary Committee.

He is also the chair of the House Armed Services Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee.

On Nov. 10, Congressman J. Randy Forbes visited R-MC to attend a question and answer session in Birdsong Café.

The congressman began the session with a warning, but also with optimism.

“We have a unique time right now in our country,” Forbes said. “It’s a challenging time. It’s probably the time when I have seen more businessmen, more generals, more admirals, who are legitimately worried about the direction of our country.”

But Forbes revealed that he maintains optimism for the United States.

“I’m optimistic because I choose to be,” Forbes said. “We’re Americans, that’s what we do. We
do this when the curve lines don’t look good; we do it when the curve lines look good. We have to roll up our sleeves and turn this around, and I’m confident that if we have talented people like you, that we can do it.”

When asked whether the parties would be able to get along in Congress after the midterm elections, Forbes was frank.

“We won’t get along,” Forbes said. “But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. You’re not going to have everybody just coming in there and singing campfire songs, you know? It just doesn’t happen.”

Forbes said he did believe there were some opportunities for Republicans and Democrats to work together to get the country on the right track.

“Number one is lighting up this economy, which we could literally do in six months or a year,” Forbes said. “The second thing is turning around the national defense, and the third is rolling up our sleeves so we can work together on other issues.”

Forbes told the R-MC community that he supports offshore drilling.

“I support offshore drilling because it’s going to come,” Forbes said. “The question is going to be whether we do or whether another country does it, because if they get out 50 miles, then they
can do it. We’re seeing that right now in the Gulf Coast and some other areas.”

Forbes was also critical of attempts to establish clean energy initiatives in the United States.

“The Democratic Party has this philosophy on energy: we’re going to have a lot of smart people go into a room, we’re going to determine what you need to do and we’re going to come out and tell everybody what to do.

“If we look at all the energy programs, we may love them, we want to embrace them. But whether it’s solar, whether it’s alternative energy, if they hit home runs on all of those, home runs, it would only be about six percent of energy usage in the country.”

When asked about the specific threats to the U.S. that may justify Forbes’ suggestion for increased defense spending, he did not specifically detail threats to the U.S. but seemed to suggest that the U.S. should be concerned about an attack from the Chinese military.

“Today, if you put one of their surface ships against one of ours, they can hit us further than we can hit them,” Forbes said. “Is that the world you want in the future? Because if it is, it becomes a very, very, interesting world, and I would suggest it’s why we see a lot of what we’re seeing happening around the world today.”

When the questions pivoted to domestic policy issues, Forbes was critical of the legislative agenda President Obama has pursued since he has been in office.

“Suppose instead of giving $50 billion to the auto industry,” Forbes said, “we took $25 billion and gave it to the national institute of health and told them to laser in on three illnesses: Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and diabetes. You know why? Not because we favor one of those illnesses, but because with an aging population, that’s what’s driving the healthcare costs.”

For Forbes, fixing our healthcare system was also not a question of whether to change Obamacare, but how.

“We can argue all day long, ‘do you like Obamacare or not?’ but it is just not working and everyone agrees it’s not working,” Forbes said. “It’s how we fix it, not what you call it.
There are a lot of things we could do very quickly to help fix some of that.”

With regard to comprehensive policy reform, Forbes expressed his skepticism that it could be accomplished. He expressed his belief that Congress could achieve some consensus on immigration, but a comprehensive bill may be unrealistic.

“We don’t do comprehensive well,” Forbes said. “The reason is, we were never designed to do comprehensive well. Things are too big; there are too many opponents.”

“When you try to do it all, we normally mess it up in some area. What we do well are incremental changes, because then you can see policy at work.”

Forbes concluded the question and answer session by reiterating his optimism for the country.

“[If] we can deal with these issues one at a time… then who knows? Maybe we come back four and a half years from now and say we’ve got more spring in our step, more energy, than we’ve had [for] 20 years as a nation.”

-Henry Ashton ’15, Senior Politics/Opinions Editor

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