Congressman Mark Sanford reflects on challenges lawmakers face

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Congressman Mark Sanford has experienced a lot in more than 20 years of public service. But he says he's never experienced a period like this in Washington, D.C.

"There is a level of sort of constant turmoil that is unprecedented," Sanford said. "You wake up each day, often times be preparing to go on a television show or something, and you're not going to end up talking about debt, deficit or government spending. You're going to talk about the latest tweet and you have no idea what it's about. There's a level of turmoil that I think at times is counterproductive."

Congressman Sanford said the first four months of the Trump Administration have been more challenging than he expected, despite a Republican-controlled House and Senate.

At times, Republican lawmakers like Sanford find themselves in opposition to the President's agenda. Most recently, Sanford challenged the Trump Administration's proposed budget that projects a sustained three percent economic growth over the next 10 years.

"I want to see three percent economic growth," Sanford said. "I think tax reform, regulatory reform and things like that can help that. The question is, over the next ten years can you go without an economic downturn? I would argue no and I think economic history would argue no."

Sanford says, at 96 months of growth, the U.S. is already in the third-longest economic expansion in American history. He says the budget is betting on something that is not only unlikely but in some ways has never happened before in the history of the nation.

"If they're wrong on the bet, here's the problem with it," Sanford said. "It creates more than a $2 trillion hole that ultimately you and me are on the tab for and that's why I think important to look at that budget, not with rose colored glasses but very realistic glasses."

Sanford and his fellow Republicans in the House did pass a bill to overhaul the Affordable Care Act, but not without challenges. Now it appears that effort may have been in vain.

"Health care has largely stalled," Sanford said. "There was the talk of repeal and replace of the Affordable Care Act. The House got through a measure on that front, but it's not going to move in the Senate in present form. [Mitch] McConnell is already talking about how, if something moves, it's going to be very different than what the House proposed."

The House passed its version of the American Health Care Act about four weeks ago.

Sanford said any bill passed by the Senate will be vastly different. But he says there are some changes he likes, including not applying a penalty to anyone who didn't sign up for coverage.

"What we're trying to do with this bill is to say, 'Could we offer a carrot instead of a stick?'" he said. "That is to say, 'Can we induce you to being in the insurance pool because it's in your best interest?' If we get more young people involved in the system it lowers the cost for everybody."

Mark Sanford represents South Carolina's 1st Congressional District.

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