Reed Talks Trump, Bipartisanship With Dems
During a recent ride-along with Rep. Tom Reed, he shared his thoughts on a variety of issues with The Post-Journal, ranging from President Donald Trump to the Problem Solvers Caucus.
Reed said he believes the president is doing a doing a good job in certain areas. “From a policy and a substantive point of view, he’s moving the needle,” Reed said. “We got tax reform done, and that is going to pay huge dividends to people.”
Reed said the tax reform will put more money in peoples’ pockets and will help develop more jobs. He said when the economy is doing well, more problems and issues are addressed or solved.
The president is cutting regulations and streamlining review processes with executive orders and persuaded agencies to have a more reasonable approach to regulations, Reed said.
“I think that’s extremely positive, and I’m extremely supportive of that,” he said.
However, the congressman said there are some things the president does he wouldn’t necessarily do himself.
“I don’t think anybody is above constructive criticism,” Reed said. “The style at times is something I would not be the most appreciative of.”
Reed said he is not someone who looks for headlines but is willing to express his disagreement. He said he would rather not dwell on politics and headlines when it comes to the administration.
“It’s all how to attack and criticize,” he said. “If that’s all you’re doing, you’re not helping anyone. You’re providing more entertainment than substantive relief for people, and I try to focus on giving relief to people.”
Reed said something he wishes the public would see is when Congress is working together and having a true dialogue. He said he has found in his time in Congress that most of the people there who are elected are good people.
“They’re trying to help people,” Reed said. “That’s what motivates 99 percent of us that are there. They have a different philosophy, they have a different way of going about it — and you can adamantly disagree with it, but you respect their motives are good.”
Reed also discussed the “development going on in Chautauqua County,” noting that it is due in large part to the work of local officials, including former county executives Greg Edwards, Vince Horrigan and currently George Borrello.
“A lot of success is rightfully given to the local officials,” he said. “They’re impacting day-to-day.”
Reed said he and his team have tried to act as a resource and help out where they can. There are eight staff members from Reed’s office “on the ground” to help handle needs and issues in areas like Chautauqua County. For example, Reed said he and his staff were able to help with the National Comedy Center through the New Market Tax Credit.
“We are kind of the sponsor, if you would, in the federal government for that tax policy,” Reed said.
Along Lake Erie, Reed said his office has been advocating with the Army Corps of Engineers for the dredging work and the break wall in that area. Likewise, Reed said he is interested in sewering of Chautauqua Lake and believes it will make an impact on the health of Chautauqua Lake.
Bipartisanism and working with other representatives is important to him, Reed said, noting the development of the Problem Solvers Caucus. The caucus has evolved over the years from a coffee-centered social group into a group focused on bipartisanship and working together.
“Myself and few other folks said ‘This needs to go to the next level,'” Reed said. “People were using it for campaign purposes, there were about 80 or 90 members in the Problem Solvers Caucus and we kind of said, ‘This isn’t what we’re trying to do. We’re trying to break the gridlock of Washington. We need people who aren’t just going to talk the talk, they’re going to walk the walk.”
Reed said toward the end of January 2016, the group decided to narrow the caucus, focusing on breaking the “gridlock in Washington” and voting as a block. He compared the Problem Solvers Caucus to the Freedom Caucus in the House, which is a hard-right group that have become influential.
He said the group has about 40 members.
“We looked at that and saw how much influence they were having over the process, so that was a cornerstone of the Problem Solvers Caucus that we went into,” Reed said. “We said if you’re going to join this group, if we can get to a 75 percent consensus position, we agree to vote with each other as a block. Now, we’re up to 48 members.”
Reed said he is proud of the Problem Solvers Caucus because the block of votes that have been created influences the national process. One of the first successes was the original budget deal from a year ago.
Due to the success of the Problem Solvers Caucus in the House of Representatives, Reed said there are now 20 Senators working together in what is called the “Common Sense Coalition.” He said it is encouraging for Senators to do that.
“Usually Senators don’t act in caucuses,” Reed said. “Each one Senator has a tremendous amount of influence, and they tend to become islands in and of themselves, as they will describe themselves. They work together, but they don’t caucus or coalesce together. Now, these guys are.”
He said he never thought he would see something like that occur during his time as a congressman.
“It’s slowly causing the culture of gridlock and the culture of distrust in Washington to break down,” Reed said. “If we don’t do that, we’re not going to get anywhere.”