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Gowdy discusses Tea Party, downgrade and debt

OCTOBER 21, 2011
by William Mitchell ’13, Contributing Writer

Representative Trey Gowdy addressed a thinly populated Patrick Lecture Hall Wednesday night in a lecture on the debt, the downgrade and the Tea Party in America.

Gowdy is an Upstate native and former district attorney.  He represents South Carolina’s 4th Congressional District, which includes Greenville and Spartanburg counties. He began by commenting on his relationship with the Tea Party and its role in the debt crisis.

Gowdy rode Tea Party support in routing incumbent Republican Bob Inglis for the congressional seat in 2010.  But Gowdy said Tuesday that he was not a member of the Tea Party Caucus. He was, however, clear in making his support known, calling himself “an unabashed fan” of the movement.

Gowdy was quick to express skepticism of the claim that the Tea Party was responsible for the downgrade of the U.S. credit rating by Standard and Poor’s earlier this year, citing political polarization and infighting within Congress. Gowdy instead attributed the downgrade to the inability of Congress to produce a meaningful long-term solution.

Gowdy said that, in the future, much tougher decisions will have to be made. Current debate surrounding cuts to the budget has focused primarily on discretionary rather than mandatory spending. Discretionary spending forms a smaller proportion of the budget than mandatory spending, he said. Cutting mandatory spending tends to be more controversial as it consists mostly of entitlement programs.

According to Gowdy, it is the reform of these entitlements that will be key if long-term budget solvency is to be ensured. At the current rate of spending, the trust fund Medicare relies upon will be exhausted by 2020, and Social Security will face similar problems as the ratio of productive workers to retirees continues to decrease.

To create lasting solutions to the debt, Gowdy said that politicians would have to drop the posturing that has characterized the debate throughout the debt crisis and prepare Americans for harsh realities about cutting spending.

“We’re going to have to start telling the truth,” he said.

The event, hosted by the Conservative Students for a Better Tomorrow (CSBT), was attended mostly by residents of the Greenville area.

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