It’s pretty clear voters of all stripes are fed up with GOP obstructionism. Congressman Paul Broun of Athens, who hails from far right edge of the Party of No, is certain Georgians want more of the same.
I met Broun last week over iced tea in Marietta and asked him about those recent poll numbers.
“We have very little positive messaging coming from the Republican side,” Broun said. “We have to stop out-of-control government both parties created.”
This is the theme of our conversation: “out-of-control government,” “unsustainable debt,” and “total economic collapse of America.”
It’s apocalypse now unless you vote for Paul Broun.
If elected to replace U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss, Broun says he’ll be one of four “stalwarts fighting for liberty” in the U.S. Senate — Ted Cruz, Mike Lee and Rand Paul being the three current tea party Musketeers. I’m not sure what happened to their d’Artagnan, Marco Rubio.
Sen. John McCain dismissed the triumvirate as “wacko birds.” Nevertheless, Cruz and the others want a government shutdown if Obamacare is not defunded, a non-starter for Republican leaders like McCain.
“I don’t want to shut down the government,” Broun said flatly.
“Is Obamacare the law of the land?”
“No,” Broun replied. After I reminded the legislator Obamacare was passed by the House and Senate, signed into law by the president, upheld by the Supreme Court and litigated in the 2012 election, he corrected himself. “It’s the law of the land but it’s not the settled law of the land. It’s a monstrosity that will destroy everything in America.”
Conservatives made the same hyperbolic predictions about Social Security and Medicare. They remain two of the most popular programs ever enacted but Broun wants to “gut” both, according to Justin Barasky of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.
“(Georgia politicians) Phil Gingrey, Paul Broun, and Jack Kingston would put an end to Social Security by supporting a … Social Security privatization scheme … subjecting seniors to the volatility of the stock market,” Barasky charged last week.
When I asked Broun to confirm or deny this he ignored the question, interrupting my interview to talk to our waiter about jobs.
Broun favors replacing Medicare with vouchers seniors can use to purchase health insurance. Paul Ryan pushed the same idea during Mitt Romney’s failed presidential bid.
“(Broun, Gingrey and Kingston) would also dismantle Medicare and take more than $6,000 out of seniors’ pockets each year due to additional health care costs,” said Barasky. “If (they) have their way, millions of seniors across the country could be forced into poverty.”
Is that true, Rep. Broun? The congressman said he didn’t know if vouchers are the answer.
Broun isn’t so coy on other issues. For example, he claims global warming is a “hoax,” saying the decades of climate research showing manmade carbon dioxide is warming the earth is “not settled science.”
Science that is settled, according to Broun, is the theory of evolution, embryology and the Big Bang theory. A physician who sits on the House Science Committee, Broun in the past proclaimed these “lies straight from the pit of hell,” adding, “I don’t believe the earth is but 9,000 years old.”
The popularity problem for Republicans isn’t a lack of positive messaging, as Broun believes. No, the problem for the GOP is a relatively small and noisy cadre of far-right ideologues trying to force their uncompromising brand of radical socio-economic conservatism on Americans.
Republicans invited extremists like Broun to their party and now they must accept the consequences.
Kevin Foley is a public relations executive, author and writer who lives in Kennesaw.