The Means Report welcomes back Georgia’s representative from District 12 in the United States Congress. He’s Rick Allen, and he is going to talk about a ton of stuff today. We always try to hit all of the hot topics, including prescription drug prices. Can our lawmakers do something to bring those rates down to make it easier for us to afford them and what’s the future look like when it’s time to pay for our medicine? Also, the relationship between the U.S. and Israel, a very closely watched relationship there, Congressman Allen has an update for us and his district work week events, the congressman always comes back to the 12th and makes contact with the people here, and we’ll find out about the district work week.
Brad Means: Congressman Allen, welcome back and thanks for taking your time to be here.
Rep. Rick Allen: Thanks, Brad, good to be with you.
Brad Means: So let’s talk about your new role, first of all, ‘cause that’s probably the biggest development since we last met and I’ll get you to kinda break it down for me, but from what I understand when it comes to Congress and when it comes to your senior Republican status on this committee, you’re gonna have a lot to do with K-12 education.
Rep. Rick Allen: Exactly. Yeah, it’s the committee on K-12 education. Subcommittee of the education labor committee and frankly, this is my third term in Congress and you usually don’t, you usually not the, well I would be chairman of that subcommittee if we win the majority, of course.
Brad Means: Right.
Rep. Rick Allen: But yeah, we’ve had a lot of turnover, particularly in our conference and so I’ve moved up that, my seats, you know, you move up your seats and I’ve moved up very rapidly and of course, that committee is very important to our district, as well as the agriculture committee that I serve on, so we are basically making sure that we’re implementing the Every Student Succeeds Act, which restores local power to solve these problems in our public school system. It gives the teachers, puts the teachers back in the classroom and gives the local board of education and the state the ability to run our school systems.
Brad Means: That’s gotta be something that pleases local school leaders.
Rep. Rick Allen: Exactly, because the compliance requirements of the teachers was enormous. I think, like every piece of legislation, No Child Left Behind, had good intentions. Accountability, that sort of thing, but it got blown way out of proportion. The compliance requirements, kinda typical federal overreach and in fact, the data was really got to be insignificant because by the time we got the data, on the testing and everything, the children had already advanced. In today’s world, we are evaluating children in K-12 every week to make sure because if you get a week behind, it’s very difficult to catch up at the pace that young people are learning out there today.
Brad Means: All right, you know, sometimes when we record The Means Report, which folks, we typically it do on a Thursday afternoon, we’re doing it on a Wednesday afternoon this time right before the day that you see it and sometimes, we’ll have breaking news as our recording session gets underway. Today, we did. Robert Mueller gets up and talks and says he’s closing his office and he says look, I couldn’t charge the president with a crime because that was not an option. Also, there wasn’t enough evidence or information to exonerate the president from obstruction of justice. Concerns, considerations, Democrats are just saying now we must impeach. We have no choice. Is President Trump going to get impeached? And if he does, is there great concern?
Rep. Rick Allen: Yeah, well, they’d have to hold that vote in the House. I certainly don’t think it’s gonna ever… I mean, we control the Senate.
Brad Means: Sure.
Rep. Rick Allen: We don’t control the House. You have to understand, they’re probably, the 30 seats that we lost to the majority. A lot of those seats, President Trump is very popular in those districts. There are a lot of seats that they hold that the president won by as many as 20 points. Like in Minnesota, Peterson’s district. So I don’t see Chairman Peterson, he’s chairman of ag, I don’t see Chairman Peterson voting to impeach President Trump. Yeah, they talk about it. You gotta have 218 votes to do anything. I don’t believe they have the votes. I don’t see any Republicans, obviously, voting for it, so I think it’s maybe I think the last vote they held, there was about 50 that voted to impeach. With this new group that they brought in, there may be another 30? That would be the maximum. I think they’re way short of the votes that they need. They may bring it up, they may put in on the floor and vote to satisfy some of their members because even on the Sunday morning news programs, you had dialogue that was very different. The chairman of their conference said that until we have the evidence, we’re not gonna impeach and then they had another member of Congress, Lee, who said oh yes, we’re moving towards impeachment, so I don’t think they have, they’re not close to having consensus in their conference.
Brad Means: One minute, I look at the stock market, it’s booming. The economy, certainly, over all is booming. Then you start hearing these, and this is really two different topics so we’ll sort of weave them together as best we can, then you hear talk about the tariffs and the trade situation with China and I get worried about our economy. Your thoughts on how things are going economically in this country and how they’ll proceed as the tariff situation unfolds?
Rep. Rick Allen: Yeah, well, the economy is continuing to grow. The tariff, the initiatives by the president has not affected the economy in any way. I know that some have said that steel prices, fabricated said, steel prices have increased. Frankly because the demand for steel, steel prices were going up probably anyway. Maybe not as much, I don’t know, but of course, our farmers, their commodity prices have been on a downward turn for, well, since I’ve been in Congress. I mean, I think it was two to three years before I was elected that commodity prices were an all-time high. In fact, the last time we wrote an agriculture bill, now six years ago, the commodity prices were at an all-time high and they’d been steadily dropping since then, so and that’s why the president at the urging of the Secretary of Agriculture, Perdue is going to do some things to help our farmers and those folks who have been affected by the trade negotiations. The president is and I have had many conversations about this and he’s right. I’ll tell you this. We’ve never had anyone in public office that has been willing to take this on. I think the reason that we get taken advantage of on trade is because we have an election every two years in this country and yeah, trade is gonna effect some of the forces in some of the businesses, but China is out of control. They have got to be reeled in. I think that part of the difficulty is they feel very independent now, but frankly, I think still when we sneeze, China gets pneumonia. We’re the consumer giant out there and so the president can use that too. He’s got lots more tools in the chest than China has.
Brad Means: So you think that these, the back and forth between the US and China is gonna be devastating to our economy?
Rep. Rick Allen: I have not seen signs of that. The market, kind of a, I think the market wants a deal, so they kinda react to that, but that’s been typical of the market. The market reacts to, we take, for example, okay. So the Chinese, they backed up on the deal. I mean, backed out of it, so what happens? Mortgage rates go down. That’s good for the economy. So does the stock market, but then the stock markets come back up because mortgage rates are down. You saw what happened when interest rates increased.
Brad Means: Right, and it’s almost as if there’s some sort of fluctuation every single day. You can’t watch TV every second or it’ll stress you out too much.
Rep. Rick Allen: Understand this. We have the greatest economy in the entire world and we did that in less than two years.
Brad Means: Let me ask you this about farmers. I know that that‘s important to you. I know that there are a lot of farmers in your district. I know you’ve worked hard on the agriculture committee.
Rep. Rick Allen: Yeah.
Brad Means: Whether it’s bailout money or natural disaster relief money, what kind of help do we have coming to those men and women?
Rep. Rick Allen: Well, I think back to when we were in the majority and even before we left for Christmas, we passed legislation to deal with the storm in October and sent it to the Senate. Within two weeks of every disaster while we were in the majority, when the President Trump after he was elected, we had money flowing in disaster relief to these communities within two weeks to deal with immediate problems. This one, became all about politics and so here we are six months later and we got farmers that are still sitting there deciding whether to plant or not.
Brad Means: If there is money that’s forthcoming, if both parties get together and agree on packages and aid, will it primarily benefit the huge farmer or will it help the mom and pop operations that we have?
Rep. Rick Allen: Yeah, it depends on again, those areas that were affected by the disaster, it’s done through USDA and we have, the Senate has finally passed a package and like I said, we sent it over there before Christmas and the Senate has now passed a package that I’m gonna vote for when I get back to Washington. It was gonna be by voice vote, but we’ve had some members of the Freedom Caucus who have called for a recorded vote and so that votes are on record of how they voted for it, but obviously, and you’ve got the things… Just on the news yesterday morning, tornadoes that hit and what not. I mean, these people, they need help.
Brad Means: No, they do.
Rep. Rick Allen: And that’s what we need to provide them and then through, as far as the distribution, it’s through USDA. USD makes the determination on the lawsuits and then FEMA works to get the money to them.
Brad Means: Farmers, I wanted to make sure that I got you in our first segment. I’m glad that we did. Our second segment will continue with Congressman Rick Allen in just a moment, our special guest today on the Means Report.
Brad Means: Welcome back to the Means Report. Congressman Rick Allen from Georgia’s 12th district is our special guest today. Our next topic that we want to tackle, Congressman Allen, is Georgia’s Heartbeat Bill. Governor Kemp signed it. It basically means no abortions after a heartbeat is detected in a baby. Let’s just say six weeks into the pregnancy. Hollywood says we’re not gonna make, many people from Hollywood, say we’re not gonna make movies in Georgia anymore. Your thoughts?
Rep. Rick Allen: Well, you know, I’m pro-life, okay? And so I think it’s a great bill. I think it’s well written. It has the exclusions, life of mother, rape and incest. But as far as decisions that Hollywood makes, obviously the reason they were were here is because of tax incentives.
Brad Means: Right, huge tax incentives.
Rep. Rick Allen: Huge tax incentives. They’ve got every right to make those decisions. Obviously, I’m all about their growing jobs. But let me tell you what Hollywood needs to know. We have a discharged petition on the floor of the House right now. We’ve had over 50 requests for this bill to be brought to the floor and that’s the Born-Alive abortion bill. I think everybody can agree and this was based on what the Virginia governor said, this is what we do. You have a child in an abortion and that child is born alive. Has lived through that. And that discharged petition says you must do everything in your power to save that child’s life if it’s born alive. That discharged petition is on the floor. Every Republican has signed it. Only two Democrats have signed that petition. We gotta have 218 signatures to sign that petition. Now, yeah, okay, you compare state of Georgia, Washington D.C. I guess Hollywood is gonna say oh, that’s great. You kill the kid. We’re going to Washington D.C. to make movies.
Brad Means: Yeah, maybe they’ll make all of them up there.
Rep. Rick Allen: I mean, you know, it’s very expensive to do things up there, I can tell you that, but where are our values here?
Brad Means: Let me ask you that. Where are our values? What do your colleagues on the Democratic side of the aisle say behind the scenes? I once asked Jody Hice, I think it was Jody, Congressman Hice behind the scenes when the cameras are off, are people real? And he indicated yeah, they are. Yes, we talk like normal people to each other. Do the Democrats ever say look Rick, we’re not gonna sign this petition, here’s why?
Rep. Rick Allen: Well, I could tell you why they’re not signing it is their leadership is, I think, written the riot act to ’em. It basically said you sign that and we’re going to penalize you in ways you never wanted to be penalized. In other words basically what I’m hearing is all the big money, like the Bloomberg money and all that, you not gon get any of that. But again, they’re sitting there in a very difficult position and in fact, we had a motion to recommit last week and we’re gonna talk about this, I know, but it’s the protections for Israel as far as the BES, the trade, where they’re trying, the United Nations is implementing sanctions, countries want to implement sanctions against Israel.
Brad Means: Yeah, that was my next question.
Rep. Rick Allen: Yeah.
Brad Means: Just to update us on the status of our relationship with them.
Rep. Rick Allen: Yeah, we had a motion to recommit last week and they wanted to vote for that motion very badly and we got a number of votes on that, but still, it did not pass. Can you believe that?
Brad Means: Is this all pre-election stuff that we’re witnessing? People just trying to position themselves to get votes and money?
Rep. Rick Allen: I think the money drives it, yeah. Like I said, there are big donors in the Democratic sector that are, their values and my values don’t line up and they’re spending their money to impose their values on you and I through the political process. That’s sad.
Brad Means: A few days before your visit today, I was very worried about the situation with Iran. I wonder, are we about to go to war with that country? In the past 24 hours or so, there seems to be some stepping back. Your thoughts about the tensions between the US and Iran and whether they’ll lead to something more?
Rep. Rick Allen: Well, I think that everyone… There was no appetite for the Iran deal in the United States congress. That’s the president did it on his own. The Senate had no appetite for that agreement. None whatsoever. It would have lost overwhelmingly, I believe, in the Senate. So he had to do an agreement rather than a treaty. Well, agreement means that the next president can look at that agreement and determine whether he thinks it’s satisfactory. Well, guess what? Iran was cheating like crazy. In fact, we were told before by the former Secretary of State, that Iran was gonna cheat, but we still need to do business with ’em. If you ever done business with people who were going to admittedly cheat, it’s not easy. So President Trump, like I said, with him, it’s just common sense. You don’t do deals like this and of course, again, they were using all the money that the previous administration sent over there to launch attacks on Israel.
Brad Means: Are you fearful that this could erupt into a war between the U.S. and Iran? That we might send troops over there?
Rep. Rick Allen: Let me tell you.
Brad Means: We’re just off the coast of–
Rep. Rick Allen: We have allies there, okay? That are strong allies. Saudi Arabia, many of ’em in that region. Jordan, great allies with great militaries and we’re there to say what we’re doing, we’re making a statement, okay? They’re going after you, we’re with you, we’re going after them. I don’t think Iran is an position to do that. I think they’re basically running out of money very rapidly. Their people are suffering and that is a very sad situation. A lot like Venezuela. It’s awful, but again, they cannot have nuclear weapons. They cannot do that.
Brad Means: Let’s get closer to home and the work week event’s always a key part of your district business. How’s everything going, what are the people saying out there on the streets?
Rep. Rick Allen: Well, it’s always busy. We’re in Washington 36 weeks a year. I will tell you the first thing I missed when I show up like last night to a visitation or this morning to a breakfast and they say why aren’t you in Washington? And I said well, we have a lot of demand here in the district for me to get out here and find out ‘cause that’s the beauty of the House, okay? We’re the peoples’ house. You gotta know what the people are doing. The president, every time I’m with him, says what are the people saying up there? Same thing you asked me, what are the people saying? Well, I can tell you this. What I’m hearing from the business community, they love tax reform. They’re able to grow their businesses, reinvest, and that sort of thing. What they need is workers and let me tell you.
Brad Means: We didn’t hear that for a while.
Rep. Rick Allen: Oh my goodness, I heard it today at Fort Gordon. We walked on the new Cyber Center of Excellence facility. Did a tour there and I was at Fort Gordon most of the morning talking about all facilities and needs and things that they have. So, they were bringing me up to date on some others things, but they are on schedule, but they are fighting it just like Plant Vogtle’s fighting it because they don’t have the skilled workforce. Let me tell you one of the most exciting days that I had at the White House was when the president invited me up there and we went around and he had all the industry groups there, all the labor groups, everybody in one room. He had testimony by people who had had one career and then a second career. We had a CPA who retired as a CPA and he decided he wanted to be a truck driver.
Brad Means: Really?
Rep. Rick Allen: And now he’s going, he and his wife go across the country and he works when he has, doesn’t have other things. They travel some as well.
Brad Means: Sure.
Rep. Rick Allen: But yeah. We had testimony by a young lady who was, she was an administrative assistant. She decided to get electrical apprenticeship and I tell you, they’re doing very well. So bottom line. We signed up four million apprenticeships that day. Commitments from those business within five years. The last time I was at the White House, I asked Ivanka, I said, how’s this going? She says we’re up to six million apprenticeships. You don’t think this president’s serious about solving this problem? He is doing everything he can. We also took up immigration reform that would solve a lot of that problem based on merit based immigration.
Brad Means: Listen, I only have about a minute left and I was gonna talk about immigration. We can do that next time. I just wanna know how your trip on Air Force One was.
Rep. Rick Allen: Yeah.
Brad Means: The president asked you to climb aboard in Atlanta, you flew back to Andrews, what’s it like up there?
Rep. Rick Allen: You know, it was, that plane is equipped with everything. In fact, somebody asked me did you call your wife and I said you know, I didn’t even think about that. But it was so fast, I mean, and the president, the reason he asks you to come on there is he wants to talk to you.
Brad Means: Right.
Rep. Rick Allen: He will sit there and ask you question after question after question about tell me what people think and how’s the economy, how’s business, are you growing jobs? He is like the Energizer.
Brad Means: Somebody said he doesn’t sleep.
Rep. Rick Allen: I don’t think he does. I mean, he is always moving and then he had to run in and had to take some phone calls. Which he took phone calls while we were flying, but get this. We went from the hotel to the Atlanta Huntsville airport in seven minutes.
Brad Means: No.
Rep. Rick Allen: Yeah. Interstate closed, seven minutes. We were wheels up in less than 10 minutes. I mean, they grabbed me, they said get on the plane.
Brad Means: There is no taxiing down the runway.
Rep. Rick Allen: Well, they closed the airport down. So he has to get out there. And then we’re up and I’m sitting in that conference room with the Secretary of Health and Human Services. We’re talking about healthcare and then the president comes in, we talk about everything. Kellyanne was in there and Sarah Huckabee Sanders was in there. We had a wonderful discussion on the way back to Washington, but it was only a hour and 15 minutes.
Brad Means: Listen–
Rep. Rick Allen: It went by like that.
Brad Means: I bet it did and I don’t care what political party you’re affiliated with, being on Air Force One is cool. I mean, that’s just a cool thing.
Rep. Rick Allen: That was a fun opportunity.
Brad Means: Well, I can’t thank you enough for your time, congressman, and–
Rep. Rick Allen: Always good to be with you.
Brad Means: I appreciate your service.
Rep. Rick Allen: Yeah, thank you, Brad.