“This isn’t a debate about political parties,” said Graves, who is beginning his second full term representing Northwest Georgia. “How do we
preserve and protect America for future generations — that’s what this quest is about.”
Congress’ overall approval rating is at 9 percent, according to a poll released this week by Public Policy Polling, and 85 percent of respondents view it unfavorably.
The poll conducted Jan. 3-6 put the federal governing body up against a series of disliked things to determine which was more popular. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.
Percentagewise, Congress lost out to root canals, 32-56; lice, 19-67; France, 37-46; and the NFL replacement referees, 29-56. Respondents said they like Congress better than meth labs, 60-21; the Kardashians, 49-36; North Korea, 61-26; and the ebola virus, 53-25.
Graves said he views the work of the previous Congress as unfinished, and contends that a lot of positives came out of the session.
“We didn’t accomplish as much as I’d have liked, but we were able to ban earmarks,” he said. “And the normal expectation that government spending will continue, ... well, now there’s an expectation there will be a fight.”
With his constituents complaining that government has gotten too big and is taking too much, Graves said, “we have 16 trillion reasons” to fight for spending cuts to reduce the deficit.
‘New breed of ideas’
All pending legislation died Jan. 1, when the new session began, but Graves said he and other House Republicans will be refiling some important bills.
On Tuesday he signed on as co-sponsor of H.R. 25, the reintroduction of the FairTax. The measure would repeal the 16th Amendment, which created the federal income tax, and replaces it with a national sales tax.
“Rather than government taking a hunk of our paychecks before we even see them, taxpayers would choose when and how they are taxed, based on what they decide to purchase,” he said.
Graves also plans to resubmit his Transportation Empowerment Act when he finds a replacement for its Senate sponsor, Jim DeMint, who stepped down to run the conservative Heritage Foundation.
The Act would phase out federal highway and mass transit programs, letting states control their gas tax revenue and projects. The Georgia General Assembly has passed a resolution urging Congress to consider the legislation.
“We believe this is an amazing solution for the states,” Graves said. “It’s one of the new breed of ideas coming out of the new members of Congress.”
Committee assignments are expected to be handed out next week, and Graves said he expects to remain on Appropriations. The 2013 House calendar is set up to give representatives at least one week a month at home, and that suits him.
“Sometimes we get caught up in Washington-speak and the votes, but our No. 1 goal is to be accessible to our constituents,” Graves said. “Remember, I’m a neighbor. And Georgia comes first.”
Public Policy Polling surveyed 830 American voters from Jan. 3-6 through automated telephone interviews. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.4 percentage points. The poll was not paid for or authorized by any political organization.