In a field crowded with Georgia Congressman seeking the Republican nomination for a U.S. Senate seat, Rep. Jack Kingston wants to see them debate some of the most fundamental and politically risky questions about the role and size of government in the future.
Speaking Monday to The Augusta Chronicle editorial board, the Savannah-based Republican said during the recent government shutdown, much of the coverage focused on the inconvenience to people or the closing of monuments and not enough on what Kingston said was the real cause, the national debt. That and other fundamental questions should be the focus during the campaign, he said.
“I think we have a big debate in society right now on the level of taxation, the amount of income redistribution, the amount of government services and what we want our relationship with government to be,” said Kingston, one of eight candidates seeking to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga. “I think it’s a really profound debate because some people want more government, they’re willing to give up more freedom for security, and others are outraged by it.”
Part of the response should be a focus on getting people back to work, he said.
“I do think part of it has to be turning the economy around,” Kingston said.
Reducing government waste should also be a focus – there are 47 federal job training programs and that clearly should be trimmed down, he said. But there should also be a debate on what Kingston called the “thin ice” issues – the military, health care and retirement. In Social Security, there should be a recognition that people are living longer, he said. In 1900, there were a couple thousand people 100 or older, Kingston said, where in the 2010 Census there were 53,364. That will only increase due to medical advances, he said.
“For us to say that Social Security (eligibility) is at 65, it’s a guarantee for disaster,” Kingston said. “So I think you have to get on that thin ice of we have to look at changing the retirement age. I’ve actually voted for that. That’s a vote which I am sure I will be hearing about. But I think you have to have politicians who are willing to risk their political career if you are going to change the country around.”
Kingston said his background in military and agriculture policy positions him best to deal with those issues in the tradition of former U.S. senators from Georgia.