By Terry L. Jones
State Rep. Steven Palazzo feels Congress needs to return to a "God-centered, limited government" mentality.
"Those are conservative principles that worked well for our country," the 4th Congressional District candidate told the Hattiesburg American's editorial board Wednesday. "Every time we have gotten away from those principles, we've slipped a little further into despair."
Palazzo, 40, faces off against 20-year congressional veteran Gene Taylor, a Democrat, on Nov. 2 along with Kenneth Hampton, a Libertarian Party candidate, and Reform Party hopeful Anna Jewel Revies.
Palazzo said Taylor "talks conservative" without actually having the voting record to back it up.
A small business owner, Mississippi National Guardsman and state representative, Palazzo said that he's ready to fire House Speaker Nancy Pelosi - whom he noted Taylor voted for twice during his tenure.
He also wants to enact 12-year term limits for members of the House and Senate and control agency costs and lower taxes for his constituents.
One way of doing that at the federal level, he said, would be the elimination of the Department of Education.
"I do not think the federal government should be in the business of educating our kids in the state of Mississippi," Palazzo said. "They can turn that over to the state government."
Palazzo said the move would allow federal education funds to be sent as block grants to state legislatures, which would determine how the money would be spent.
"One of my missions in the state Legislature was to get more educational control to the local level," he said.
"Where local school boards, the parents and the teachers control the education and curriculum in their schools because they know... best what their students need."
The University of Southern Mississippi alum and father of three said he also wants to repeal President Barack Obama's healthcare reform law and believes a federal judge's recent injunction against the military's "don't ask don't tell" policy is an "attack on the military."
"Congress needs to grow a backbone," he said. "We have to send somebody up to Congress that knows how to create jobs and have the courage and conviction to fight for what are the best interests of our state."
Palazzo told the board that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 did little to create more jobs, but it did create more debt for the nation.
"We spent trillions of dollars and have nothing to show for it," he said.
When asked if he would have let American International Group (AIG) fail, Palazzo responded, "There's no business big enough, or important enough, not to fail. There's always something that will grow up out of the ashes."