The mounting federal debt and budget deficits were the issues that drew Bob Gibbs of Holmes County into the race for Congress two years ago and he still sees those as the biggest issues facing the country.
Gibbs is seeking a second term in the U.S. House of Representatives, but the district is substantially different this time. It still includes all or part of 10 counties, but it is more compact than the old district. It’s still mostly rural, but includes the urban Canton/Massillon area.
“The deficit and debt take away opportunities for people and our children,” Gibbs said.
He said that last year, a bill he sponsored overturned a court decision adding bureaucratic duplication and more red tape for farmers and municipalities.
“It passed with a bipartisan supermajority, but it’s still languishing in the Senate. It’s frustrating,” he said, also saying the bill does nothing to lessen environmental protection.
Gibbs doesn’t see the district as being a big change for him. It includes different areas, but is still primarily rural.
“It’s a microcosm of the state,” he said. “It’s a great district and easier to get around. I’ve been getting positive feedback.”
In tackling the budget issue, Gibbs said he has supported rolling department budgets back to 2008 levels. He said the fighting and bickering in Washington has made it difficult to pass legislation, but he expects that after the election, no matter who wins, the atmosphere will “tone down.”
Everybody’s been in “campaign mode,” he added.
On arriving in Congress, Gibbs said he was surprised to find that discretionary spending amounts to only about one-third of the budget. The rest is entitlements and fixed expenses.
He supported rolling back spending to 2008 levels, but said we have to reform programs to make sure they are “actuarially sound.”
He is concerned about a coming automatic cut of $487 billion in the Defense budget. He said the cut will be spaced out over 10 years, but it’s still a large cut and he’s concerned about the impact of those cuts on the nation’s security.
The cut is part of a $6.2 trillion cut in spending and a deficit reduction of $4.2 trillion over the next 10 years. He cut his Congressional office budget by $100,000 in the first year.
Gibbs has put forth a four-point plan on the economy:
1) Stop wasteful Washington spending.
“Washington cannot continue to spend the way it has. It’s time for government to start living within its means and that means cutting wasteful spending.
2) Create a pro-jobs climate.
He said enacting “common sense regulatory reforms” are necessary and that Ohio businesses have told him “they can’t move forward creating jobs without greater certainty than more costly regulations aren’t coming out of Washington.”
In addition to repealing Obamacare, Gibbs backs legislation to “stop federal agencies from creating rules and regulations on their own with little or no oversight from the American people.”
3) Fix the tax code. We need to “permanently reform the tax code for families and job creators,” Gibbs said. He describes the code he wants as “a smarter, simpler tax code that levels the playing field for American businesses, supports job creators, and incentivises companies to hire American workers.”
4) Homegrown Energy. Gibbs points to the Utica shale development as both an example of how the U.S. can tap its own resources to become more energy independent and an economic opportunity for Ohio.
The development of the Utica shale will boost the economy and create jobs and can be done safely. Gibbs said he learned in his time in the state legislature that Ohio has the expertise to regulate and monitor oil and gas drilling in the state and at the same time protect the environment, especially water sources.
He also said the Keystone pipeline to carry gas and oil from Canada should have been approved.
“That was a no-brainer,” he said.
“I want clean air and water, but when the economy is going good, it’s easier to do things. I was a hog farmer for 30 years, in lean times you hoped to pay bills and stay in business and in the good years you could look at doing other things,” Gibbs said. “Look at the third World; they’re an environmental disaster.”
On health care, Gibbs said, “We need to enhance the patient/physician relationship. The Affordable Health Care Act does not do this.”
He also said we need to make greater use of Health Savings Accounts as part of reform. Employees and employers contribute, then the employee can use the money for routine or preventative health care. This will save money because of the amount of time and money doctors now have to spend on administrative costs, such as processing insurance claims for routine items like office visits and co-pays.
Patients can also look around for services, instead of being limited to certain physicians or hospitals.
“It enhances personal responsibility to talk with the physician” about treatment options, Gibbs said, and then make decisions based on what’s best for the patient rather than just testing for everything and expecting the insurance company to pay. Doctor’s fees are often linked to what Medicare will reimburse
Gibbs said we also need legal changes such as tort reform and allowing insurance to be sold across state lines.
“This will bring in more private competition and drive down costs,” Gibbs said. “Obamacare leads to a single-payer system.”
In the Middle East, Gibbs said the U.S. has to support its strongest ally — Israel.” He is concerned about Iran’s nuclear program and he was glad to see Obama impose more severe sanctions.
Becoming more self-reliant on energy will also help our peace efforts in the Middle East by taking pressure off. Being dependent on countries we’re trying to put pressure on puts us in an awkward position.
On the future of the Mansfield Air National Guard Base, Gibbs said it’s important and is efficient and efforts are still under way to keep it open.
Gibbs was born in Peru, Ind., but earned a degree from the OSU Agriculture Technical Institute in 1974. After about five years working at the institute, he founded Hidden Hollow Farms in 1978, a livestock production farm in Holmes County that mostly produces market hogs.
He was a member of the Ohio Farm Bureau Board of Trustees from 1985 to 2001 and served two terms as president of the Farm Bureau starting in 1999.
His political career began in 2002 when he was elected to the Ohio House of Representatives, serving three terms before being elected to the Ohio Senate in 2008.
In the Senate, he served as chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee and vice-chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee.
He was elected to Congress in 2010, where he serves on the Agriculture Committee and the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. He chairs the Water Resources and the Environment Subcommittee of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
In addition to the Farm Bureau, Gibbs is a member of the National Rifle Association, various Chambers of Commerce throughout Ohio, Pheasants Forever and the United Methodist Church
Gibbs has been married 36 years and has three grown children.
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