By JASON COX
Of the Keizertimes
Rep. Kurt Schrader took umbrage with continuing U.S. military action against the Moammar Gadhafi government in Libya, saying he “doesn’t see the need to embroil us” in the struggle while also saying Libya would be better off without Gadhafi.
Schrader, D – Canby was in Keizer on Friday, July 1, throwing the first pitch of the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes game, maintaining a low profile – he called it going “incognito” – with a baseball cap and Clackamas County Veterinary Clinic polo shirt.
“I bet I get no one to even notice me today,” Schrader said.
But he and other congressmen and women got plenty of attention two weeks ago as the U.S. House of Representatives voted down a bill authorizing limited military intervention in the north African nation. Schrader voted against that measure, and went a step further when he voted in favor of a resolution that would have, in the bill’s words, limited U.S. funding in Libya to meet the nation’s obligations under NATO. While the limitation resolution passed, the move to cut funding failed 180-238.
Schrader said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton – who would later challenge opponents of the president’s Libyan strategy by asking “whose side are you on?” – visited the House Democratic caucus in anticipation of the vote, and Schrader got a call from the president’s office seeking his support.
But Schrader said President Barack Obama needs congressional approval for intervention in Libya under the War Powers Act.
“(Obama’s) view was blowing people up and killing people with airstrikes is not hostilities,” Schrader said, alluding to a passage in the Act requiring the president to seek congressional approval 60 days after hostilities begin. “I think most people in Libya and most people flying those planes would disagree.”
Schrader would like to see the dictator gone – and believes Gadhafi is on his last legs – but wants to see the in-country rebels and NATO allies carry most of the load.
“I voted to make sure we met our legal agreements with NATO, with our allies … but no more troops on the ground, no more troops in the air, no more troops in the sea getting in harm’s way,” he said.
On the homefront Schrader said not raising the debt ceiling would be a “catastrophe.” Some Republicans are holding up a resolution which would raise the U.S. debt ceiling; if not done by August 2 the U.S. Treasury could soon be unable to meet its obligations. Some GOP congressmen and women want sharp spending cuts before agreeing to raise the ceiling; that is, the maximum indebtedness the United States may have under law.
“I was just talking to several investors and they said the market will just tank instantaneously” should the deadline pass without a deal, Schrader said.
He called the impasse “a great opportunity to set ourselves on a trajectory to solve the long-term problem so it’s not just our domestic and defense budgets – both of which we’re going to have to reduce some – but it’s also tax reform and fixing our entitlement programs that are in big trouble.”
On a bit more philosophical plane, if given the opportunity to rewrite the U.S. tax code Schrader said he’d start by eliminating “all the tax breaks” and create and reinstate certain credits and breaks “that would help place America where we can be more competitive. It might be the home mortgage deduction, it might be research and development credits, it might be earned income tax credits for the most vulnerable, but we limit what we do.”