What I'd Do If Elected to Congress

by Richard “Chip” Peterson, Aug.29,2010 

             Since I am a candidate, I believe the electorate deserves to know what I would do if elected. Many of my policy views are incorporated in other statements. However, people deserve to know what actions I would take to implement those views and serve the people of my congressional district.

            The main goal of a congressional representative is to serve the interests of his constituents in Congress and on the national stage. Each congressmen has a large staff and budget that he or she can employ to help. In my case, I would hope to employ a local staff of people who liked other people and were committed to serve the people in the 19th  congressional district. I would draw people from varied political parties and backgrounds, including possible incumbent staff members who have served well, as long as their primary goal was to help the people of the 19th district. I would instruct each person on the staff to communicate with constituents to see how they could help them in their dealings with the federal government.

            I am quite aware that many people encounter frustration when dealing with Federal Bureaucrats and their delays, arbitrary rules and policies. However, I am also aware that government agencies are quite conscious of maintaining good relations with Congress, since Congress ultimately controls their budget. When I worked at the Federal Reserve I was sometimes asked to draft answers to particular questions that Congressmen could use to answer constituents' inquiries. Each time, the request came with a special pink slip attached and I would be given an overnight deadline to draft a response, even if I had other things to do. This occurred because the public relations office of the Federal Reserve did not want to antagonize any Congressmen. I am quite sure that many other agencies are equally responsive. Thus, I would instruct my staff to try to contact agencies that were either capable of helping  our constituents. For instance, the INS  might be very slow in acting upon green card or naturalization requests, and might respond to requests to expedite matters. Alternatively, the IRS could be asked to expedite tax rulings. In addition, either my staff or I could ask agencies such as the EPA that were imposing or threatening to impose restrictive regulations upon local constituents to try to ameliorate the burdens they were preparing to impose upon local farmers, businesses, governments, and people. For instance, potential regulation of carbon dioxide by the EPA as a pollutant would produce very little or questionable benefits even though it is harmless to people and is essential for the growth of plants. Similarly, some proposed pesticide regulations might have little beneficial effect on people but would drastically reduce agricultural yields. The regulatory agencies should be appraised that they need to consider the potential costs as well as any potential benefits of any business or agricultural hampering  regulations before they impose them.

            If direct contact with agencies that were causing problems for District 19 constituents were ineffective, I would have another way to put pressure upon the regulatory agencies that would not be available to many others. As probably the first and only Libertarian member of Congress, I would have a “bully pulpit” that most other representatives would not have. People and the press would be more likely to listen to what the only official Libertarian in Congress had to say than to listen to random members of the more established political parties. In addition, I could draw upon the highly competent staffs of Libertarian leaning think tanks such as the Cato Institute and Heritage Foundation to obtain people skilled in legislative and regulatory knowledge as well as in public relations to help me publicize the deficiencies in government regulations and legislation that were hurting District 19 constituents as well as other citizens of the United States. I could use the bully pulpit, assisted by the highly competent staffs of the Libertarian oriented think tanks, to obtain publicity and put pressure on obstructive agencies and to try to change legislation that was harming my constituents. Since bureaucrats tend to try to avoid adverse publicity, the threat of potential adverse publicity alone might make some amend their obstructive ways.

            In Washington, my unique status as a Libertarian Representative would allow me to obtain a first rate staff to assist with my legislative responsibilities, since I could draw upon the highly competent staffs and resources of the Libertarian leaning think tanks, the Cato Institute and Heritage Foundation, as well as the resources of fiscally frugal organizations, such as Citizens against Government Waste, to obtain staff that would allow me to monitor freedom squashing legislation and wasteful spending legislation that might be moving through Congress. I could then cooperate with them in trying to stop it, amend it, or publicize it so that Congress could not continue to indulge in wasteful spending or continue to try to limit the freedom of Americans or violate citizens' Constitutional rights. I am sure that I would have help in these endeavors from other members of the “Liberty Caucus” group of Congressmen who often cooperate with each other and with our Libertarian leaning Republican Congressman from Houston, Ron Paul, to try to ensure that Congress' actions comply with and are limited by the U.S. Constitution. In fact, several members of this caucus, Representatives from Arizona, repeatedly introduce legislation in Congress that would require that all laws passed by Congress state how they relate to and comply with the U.S. Constitution. I would support that legislation and cooperate with the people who advocate that Congress honor the limits imposed by the U.S. Constitution and our Bill of Rights.

            Since I would be highly supportive of the protections promised U.S. citizens by the Constitution's Bill of Rights, I would also be able to obtain the support of groups that are concerned with the specific protections guaranteed by the Bill of Rights. Such groups variously strongly support  First Amendment guarantees promising freedom of speech, the press, peaceable assembly, and religion; or Second Amendment guarantees of the right of citizens to own guns; or Fourth, Fifth and subsequent amendment guarantees against warrant-less searches, cruel or unusual punishments, or self-incrimination, and for trial by jury and due process of law; or Ninth and Tenth Amendment guarantees that federal government powers were to be limited while other powers were to be left to the states or the people. I would have no difficulty supporting all the guarantees of individual liberty embodied in the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights so I would expect that I could easily obtain like-minded allies

who would assist me in trying to make sure that all Congressional legislation complied with the U.S. Constitution and would help me publicize cases where Congress was overstepping its bounds and infringing upon citizens' rights.

            Finally, since I am fiscally conservative, I would expect to cooperate with groups that try to limit wasteful government spending and excessive taxation and to put pressure on Congress to eschew earmarks and simplify and reduce federal tax rates.  I would hope they would lend me staff and provide information to help try to prevent wasteful spending and secret earmarks embodied in potential legislation and to help me publicize the wasteful spending and private favors being granted by Congress so those types of behavior could be prevented before they became law.

            While I recognize that my election to Congress would be a long-shot, because of the unique status I would have as the only Libertarian member of Congress, with the help of others and a bully pulpit, if elected, I could do a great deal to help the members of the 19th District and the country as a whole


Email Chip with any questions., Chippete@aol.com

Richard Peterson Campaign, Richard Peterson treasurer