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State gets more clout
Guest editorial
Rep Tom Graves
Rep. Tom Graves, a Republican, represents Georgia's 14th Congressional District in the northwest corner of the state. - photo by Photo provided.

Georgia’s clout in Congress has increased with the appointment of Rep. Tom Graves to chair the Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee of the House Committee on Appropriations.

This is a key subcommittee. Its jurisdiction includes some of the most important government agencies, among them the Executive Office of the president, the Judiciary, the Treasury Department plus upwards of 20 agencies ranging from the Internal Revenue Service to the Federal Communications and the Securities and Exchange commissions.

Graves’ subcommittee will have influential input into decisions by the powerful House Appropriations Committee and thus an impact on budgeting and spending.

Graves, R-Ranger, says he is ready to start working "to mop up the mess the Obama administration made of our nation’s financial infrastructure."

He sees his new job as "a great opportunity to slash harmful regulations, streamline outdated agency processes and free families and businesses to achieve their dreams."

In addition, the congressman says he is "in a great position to work on new approaches to cyber security," which should be a high priority.

This need has been driven home by the hacking of computer files of government agencies businesses for years and most recently the hacking of political parties and their officials, notably the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager — an issue that continues to boil in the post-election environment.

Graves spoke of some other priorities in an interview with Politico. A prime goal is repeal of the Dodd-Frank Act pushed through Congress in response to the 2008 financial crisis.

That law authorized creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which is of special concern to Graves and his Republican colleagues.

The agency, deemed unconstitutional by a federal appeals court last fall but still functioning, is essentially unaccountable to Congress or the people. An apt description was given in an Investors Business Daily editorial which said CFPB became "an out-of-control agency that was using its unchecked authority to attack credit bureaus, auto lenders, education loans, payday lenders, prepaid cards, and collect massive amounts of sensitive financial data on millions of Americans."

Graves wants to hold the CFPB accountable.

The congressman will work the authorizing committee leaders including Financial Services Committee Chairman Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas. Graves is also targeting Obama-era FCC regulations, particularly the "net neutrality rules" regulating the Internet, opposed by industry leaders as opening "a costly and destructive era of government micromanagement."

John Sununu and Harold Ford Jr., co-chairmen of Broadband for America whose members include major Internet service providers, has asked Congress to step in, saying the new rules "will discourage private investment in new networks and slow down the breakneck innovation that is the soul of the Internet today."

As for other major agencies under the purview of Graves’ subcommittee, the congressman says he doesn’t expect the IRS budget to be increased, noting "a lot of questions" remain about the agency’s targeting conservative nonprofits.

Bottom line now, Graves said: "I don’t have any concerns about any agencies needing additional dollars. They have not made a case to me that that’s required at this point."

Clearly, Graves is on the right track in calling government agencies to account and pushing for conservative budgets in the new administration. We wish him and his colleagues success in setting things in order in Washington.

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