Mack ready to 'look Chavez in the eye'
Written by: Carol Glassman Publication: Marco Island Sun Times
June 9, 2005 -
United States Congressman Connie Mack addressed approximately 110 members and guests at the Marco Police Foundation's Lunch with the Chief on June 2 at the Radisson Suite and Beach Resort.
Mack assured constituents he takes his job seriously and had been very busy the last five months getting settled in office, having lunch with the president and vice president, meeting with students from the district visiting Washington for the first time, and trying to get the resources his district needs.
As a member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Mack said he was disappointed that funding for the expansion of I-75 was not included in the Senate's major transportation funding recommendations but that he would continue to fight for it. He said that he and Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart were urging everyone in southwest Florida to write Senators Bill Nelson and Mel Martinez to tell them of the importance " for once to get ahead of the cancer" caused by traffic overload, and to complete the three additional miles of highway not included in the study.
On the topic of Social Security reform, Mack said he co-sponsored legislation to ensure Social Security's permanent solvency without raising taxes.
"For those individuals 55 or older, both bills guarantee there will be no changes to their Social Security," he said. "For workers under 55, both plans provide them an option to remain in the current social security system or to have a portion of their Social Security payroll taxes fund their own private savings accounts.
"We need to teach younger people to save for the future."
Mack said for the first time, Americans should be seeing reductions in the kinds of programs the government is funding as the entire system is being assessed for its success.
"If a program isn't working, it shouldn't be funded," Mack said, assuring a kind of fiscal responsibility.
Mack's father, Connie Mack III is chairman of a committee to look into tax reform and he predicted a report on this by mid-July of this year.
"All of their research shows us how complicated our tax code is," he laughed. "We didn't need a committee to tell us that."
On the Budget Committee, he said he is working to restore fiscal responsibility and reduce wasteful spending so Americans continue to receive the services they need, but at a price they can afford.
"Our government doesn't have a revenue problem, it has a spending problem," Mack said.
Nationally, Congressman Mack said the most important issue continues to be fighting and winning the war on terrorism. As a member of the International Relations Committee, he said he works to help craft policies that spread the ideals of freedom, security, and prosperity around the world.
After 9/11, Mack said there had been an attempt to standardize drivers' licenses for identification instead of instituting a national identity card. He claimed this move would strengthen borders, help end illegal immigration and "not cut off but embrace legal immigration."
Mack said he saw President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela as "a growing threat" with his attempts to undermine and interrupt freedom, and cut diplomatic ties with the United States by contracting to supply oil to Cuba in return for Castro's supplying Venezuela with doctors, teachers, and military aid.
"It's a dangerous relationship," he said. "Chavez now has his own type of Al-Jazeera network to spread propaganda and is speaking with Iran about nuclear weapons. Chavez is a leftist, anti-American dictator. I believe the people in Venezuela want freedom, not a leftist government."
Mack said the United States was the only country in this hemisphere capable of refining the kind of crude oil Venezuela produces.
Mack said he would be working through Congress to make sure Chavez' threats were minimized, and planned to make a trip to Venezuela very soon.
"I want to go and look Chavez in the eye," he said.
While he was on Marco Island, Mack also visited with local politicians and staff at City Hall.