ROGERSVILLE - New 1st District Congressman David Davis said Saturday he's serving in a "very, very anti-business Congress" that has turned "arrogant" under the leadership of Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Davis, a Johnson City Republican, made the comments during the annual Rogersville-Hawkins County Chamber of Commerce legislative breakfast held at Holston Electric Cooperative.
"Some of the things that come across from the (Democratic) majority party sound very good on a bumper strip - providing prescription drugs for everyone, raising people's payroll, becoming less dependent on foreign oil, ... but you've got to look at the reality of each one of those pieces of legislation," Davis said.
Davis told chamber members "don't be fooled" when Democrats go on national television and claim credit for raising America's minimum wage.
"Nancy Pelosi actually pulled a portion of her (California congressional) district out of the (minimum wage) bill and small businesses owners are not forced to pay a minimum wage," Davis claimed. "It is unfair for her employers to be treated one way and everybody else another way."
Davis was also critical of Pelosi using a government plane to fly back to her West Coast congressional district from Washington.
"We are starting to see that arrogance coming out of Washington," said Davis. "I don't think people voted for change where you have a speaker of the House who wants a plane that holds 45 people and costs $22,000 an hour to fly cross-country. Most people in the 1st District, after four hours of flying that plane, could pay off their home. ... I think the American people will hold that type of arrogance accountable in the next election."
Davis also accused House Democrats of slipping an earmark into a spending bill for a "rain forest in Iowa." He said he supports a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution and added President Bush's tax cuts have spurred economic growth.
"Over the last four years, 60 to 70 percent of the jobs created in our economy came from small business owners, not from government but from people who are willing to take risks, risk capital, put their homes up for collateral and go out and create those jobs," Davis said. "Those people need our support. We don't need a lot of regulation coming out of Washington and a lot of talk out of Washington that will harm those small businesses. ... I don't think national health care is the way to go. There will be a lot of talk in this Congress about that."
Davis also called for Bush to pardon two Border Patrol agents who pursued and shot a Mexican drug smuggler, and warned America could lose its superpower status if the Iraq war is lost.
"If we cut and run we will pay for that some time in the future. ... (Terrorists) have proven they are willing to come here and kill our citizens. ... They will be here on our streets."
The freshman congressman also pledged to hold a district hearing on congressional reauthorization of the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) initiative.
"I need to know the input of the different constituent groups as we move forward," Davis said of the NCLB hearing. "We live in a world where the 1st District is competing with China and with South Korea."
The event's other main speaker was state Rep. Mike Harrison, who talked about Gov. Phil Bredesen's proposed education package to be mostly financed by a 40-cent cigarette tax increase.
Harrison, a Republican representing Hawkins and Hancock counties, said he's gotten positive e-mail response to the cigarette tax hike.
"Some of the ones I've received are not totally against the cigarette tax but they would like to see some taxes raised on other items out there that people don't have to have - mainly alcohol," Harrison said.
In an e-mail sent to supporters, Bredesen warned "big tobacco companies" are already coming out in force against his plan.
"We all talk the talk about improving public education; now we need to walk the walk as well," Bredesen said in the e-mail. "Our cigarette tax is among the lowest in the nation, and even after such an increase, we will still be well below the national average."
Of the more than $200 million expected to be raised by the cigarette tax hike, Harrison said Hawkins County stands to get an additional $1.2 million to educate at-risk students.
Harrison also mentioned Bredesen's proposed ban on workplace smoking, which was applauded at the breakfast.
"If we would have talked about this 10 years ago, whoever brought it up would have probably been shot on sight," Harrison said of the smoking ban.
State Sen. Mike Williams, R-Maynardville, showed up at the end of the event to say legislative business really hasn't gotten off the ground yet in Nashville.
"We've done nothing so far, so you're safe," he told chamber members.