Ray McKinney has had his eye on the 12th District Congressional seat for a few years now. Although he didn’t make it past the primary his first time out, in 2010, he came out on top of a crowded field of candidates to challenge incumbent Democrat John Barrow. We caught up with Ray by phone last week to talk about where he stands on the issues and what he’d like to see change if he’s elected.
What do you see as being the most important issues facing the district right now?
Ray McKinney: I think the most important issue facing the district and our country right now is the economy. It’s been important to me since I got into this race back in 2008. Do you realize that Georgia is number two in the country when it comes to job loss? California is number one. Georgia’s lost over 50,000 jobs in the last year. We’re second in the nation. This is a critical thing.
I don’t see people in Washington DC with any common sense when they’re writing these regulations. Right now, groups like the EPA, OSHA, NRC, they write rules that do not require Congressional approval or Congressional authority. Why do we have agencies making rules and driving up costs? Any time you drive up costs for a product, you lower sales and profit. If you lower sales than you lower production, which means you lower workers.
Do you want to see them have to get more Congressional approval for rules or do you want to scale back what OSHA’s actually doing?
Ray McKinney: Let’s look at a pendulum. You can swing too far to the left, you can swing too far to the right, but the answer’s usually somewhere in the middle. Look at some of our counties in Georgia – some of our counties have no building code regulations whatsoever. You can take a mobile home, stand it on its end, put a ladder up to the door and Georgia Power will hook up electricity. There’s no regulations. I think that’s a bad thing. You’ve got some neighborhoods that you have to get approval for what color you’re going to paint your shutters.
You choose to live in that environment, that’s fine, this is America, but to make the entire country follow that rule or regulation, I think, is the opposite of what America stands for. We’re not talking about the right or the left. I’m talking about let’s take a good hard look at these rules and make sure they make sense.
If you were elected, what are the steps you’d like to see taken? How would you take action?
Ray McKinney: The first thing I would propose would be to vote for a conservative Speaker of the House who will allow this legislation to actually be debated. Tom Price introduced a bill on tort reform, it’s less than one page. That bill isn’t allowed on the House floor because the Speaker won’t allow it. For me to do anything, we’ve got to have a speaker that’s open–minded and listen to some common sense and forget the politics of it.
Why you and not your opponent?
Ray McKinney: Here’s what you’ve got, a gentleman that’s extremely smart, that’s been in office for many years, and he’s an attorney. We have a lot of attorneys in Washington DC already. Now you’ve got a guy who grew up in this district, who’s worked his way up to vice president of a company, who’s made a decent living and has been on the front lines of small business. Who do you want in Congress? You’ve already got a couple hundred lawyers.
Wouldn’t it be nice if we had some people in Congress who’d actually been out there, dealt with these agencies, who knows what the problems are because he’s seen them; who knows what they are not because he read something, but because he’s actually been there?
I got a hard hat. I’ve still the blue collar shirt with my name tag on them. I came from that. This is to represent people in the 12th. We’re not trying to represent attorneys. We’re not trying to represent some national organizations or Washington DC lobbyists.
With the level of ineptitude and political partisanship that we’ve seen coming out of Washington, can you make a difference? Or is this a situation where we have to start somewhere?
Ray McKinney: Here’s what I see happening in 2010. I don’t see just Ray McKinney going to Washington, I see 60–70, maybe 100 Ray McKinneys going to Washington. I see this all over the country.
Something I learned a few years ago, whenever the guys and gals arrive, they are automatically formed into the Freshman Caucus. Imagine if you don’t have one Ray McKinney, you’ve got 80 or 90 of these guys and gals who ran on less taxes, less regulations, less spending. That’s a big voting bloc. So when the big guys from either party or the lobbyists come into that room, they’re gonna need our support.
If we hold true to our values, we’ll be able to push the direction of Washington DC. We’re all running on the same things. If we stand our ground and I believe we have to, if America puts in 70–80 seats and we do not do what we say, I expect to be thrown out two years from now. I don’t have a problem with that.
Not everybody who comes in with this new freshman class is going to be strictly Republican or Tea Party or whatever.
You’ve got people talking about abolishing the Department of Education, you’ve got people with all sorts of agendas. Isn’t there a risk that unity is actually an illusion once everybody shows up for the first day of school?
Ray McKinney: We’re gonna have to find out. My hope for the country is that we have a group that are running on the same general principles and whether or not we agree 100 percent, if we can form a consensus within our group, we can affect change.
Let’s talk about the Department of Education. We didn’t form a Department of Education until the 1970s. That came in the same time that the Department of Energy, which was supposed to make us energy independent. We saw how that one worked – it’s been a total disaster.
So far as the Department of Education, you’ve got a multi–billion dollar group in Washington. Let’s say Georgia sends a dollar to Washington. This groups thinks about, plays with it, sends 60 cents back to Georgia and then tells us how to spend that 60 cents. Tell me what the Department of Education does exactly for schools here in Georgia?
If we could’ve kept that dollar at home, we could control that money and instead of having 60 cents coming back to us with some mandates we can’t meet, what if we had 90 cents coming back from Atlanta and we helped write the mandates? Wouldn’t that be better?
Perfect example, there was a school system that was going to be given free computers using government funds. But, they had to buy a computer desk for each computer. They couldn’t just go to the store and buy a desk. They had to buy a government approved computer desk. It was an $800 desk. They could’ve bought the computers and the desks for $300 or $400, but because it had the mandate, they couldn’t accept the computers because they couldn’t afford the desks. That’s the Department of Education.
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