IJN Associate Editor interviews Cong. Doug Lamborn, the incumbent Republican candidate for Colorado’s 5th Congressional District in November’s election.
Is the current US approach working through the UN for limited sanctions a sufficient response to Iran?
A: I know the administration has tried in the past to strengthen the regime of sanctions against Iran and theyre tried to enlist support at the UN Security Council . . . but theyre run into some real roadblocks.
Countries like Russia are apparently strengthening their commercial and diplomatic relations with Iran, and with energy as well. Some countries are throttling back a little bit more than others but some countries in Europe are really not going along with sanctions on Iran to any serious degree, as far as I can tell.
So the administration has tried to make some progress, and Congress has weighed in with a number of bills and resolutions calling for sanctions on Iran, directing our State Department to do that, trying to hold other countries accountable if they have commercial relations with Iran.
But Iran is moving full steam ahead, as far as anyone can tell, with both its missiles and its nuclear weapons research and development. The regime of sanctions that has been attempted by the US, number one, has not gotten as far as we would like, and number two, is being ignored in any case by Iran.
I dont know what we can do right now, short of military action. I have voted for legislation to specifically impose gasoline sanctions on people exporting gasoline to the country of Iran. They do have a refinery shortage in that country and that is something that would get the attention of the people, the rank and file citizens, which would put pressure on the terrible leadership of the country. But that has not gotten really far, unfortunately.
Congress had tried to back up the administration, but at this point, I havent seen a lot of strenuous efforts lately by this administration. My suspicion is that there are so many other things preoccupying it at this time like the war in Iraq, like the financial crisis on Wall Street that they are basically kicking the can down the road and are going to let another administration deal with it come January.
Q: If Israel decides to launch a military strike against Irans nuclear facilities, what do you think should be the appropriate American response?
A: Hopefully, it does not come to that point, but if it does I think that the US should support Israel, should Israel take steps in its own self defense.
Q: Please describe whats going on today on Wall Street, and what immediate and specific moves would you recommend?
A: I would like the opportunity to have at least a short period of time to look at less drastic alternatives and it does not look like we are going to be given that alternative. I would like to look at the option of changing the market to market requirements within Wall Street and doing other things within the financial markets themselves, short of a huge, taxpayer-backed bailout.
I dont like the idea of increasing our national debt. Ive heard many claims from people who are well connected that something has to be done immediately.
However, we have been given very little opportunity to discuss various alternatives to the problem, short of the one solution that [Treasury Secretary Henry] Paulson and [Federal Reserve chairman Ben] Bernanke are pushing . . . Im frustrated at the lack of debate on less drastic alternatives.
Q: List the steps you would advocate to address the issue of healthcare in America today.
A: I do not like the Barack Obama plan which moves us tremendously closer to single payer or universal health coverage. I think that is the wrong direction to go in.
His plan is going to be extremely expensive and will inevitably be followed by full socialization of our healthcare structure. To me, thats very troubling.
McCains plan is much more attractive. He relies much more on individual incentive, like changes in the tax code, to prompt people to have health insurance in place.
Right now and this is a remnant of the Second World War we have a tax structure that gives tax breaks to corporations that provide health insurance to their employees, but does not give individuals the same kind of favorable tax treatment. Thats inequitable. Just making that a level playing field would be a step in the right direction.
I like the fact that John McCains plan relies more on the marketplace and on free market and tax incentives for consumers and leaves more choice in the hands of consumers.
Q: Are we fighting Islamic terror in the right countries? If not, where and how do you think that fight should be waged?
A: I do think that the war in Iraq was a huge blow against a key ally of Islamic terror. Saddam Hussein was more and more working together with terrorists of all stripes and that had every indication that it was only going to increase in the future.
Plus, everyone believed that he had weapons of mass destruction and with any links at all to terrorists and we knew that there were some links here and there it was not too hard to conceive of him providing weapons of mass destruction to terrorists.
So that in itself with the surge that has been very successfully prosecuted shows progress in the war against Islamic terrorism.
We have the situation in Afghanistan. The Taliban seems to be regrouping and strengthening itself, so were probably going to have to face the need for further military funding and possibly troop levels.
The worst problem of all currently is in Pakistan. The Pakistani government is very weak and there are forces within the country that are trying to destabilize the already weak government. America does not have as many friends as we need within that country.
When there are portions of that country that are effectively without a government, like the federally administered areas in Waziristan, primarily the places bordering Afghanistan, we need the ability to take matters into our own hands.
Yet that has the possibility of creating a backlash within the citizenry in Pakistan, particularly since radicals are inflaming sentiment against the United States. So we have a very difficult situation there.
Also, as everyone knows, there are a number of nuclear devices within the country of Pakistan. No one wants to see that weak government become even weaker and more unstable. This has the potential of really getting out of control quickly and creating nuclear conflict.
Q: Has Congress, and the presidency, totally given up on the idea of immigration reform?
A: A lot of us dont want the issue to go away. We want it to be dealt with. Unfortunately, the Democratic leadership, at least in the House, is not even willing to touch it. I do give credit to the Senate. They at least took a stab at it a year ago, although I did not like what they came up with. But in the House were not dealing with it to any extent.
Behind the scenes, the Democratic leadership has given indications that they simply dont want to deal with it in an election year. Also, they dont like the fact that within their own caucus there are real splits among themselves on how to deal with this issue. So once again, were kicking the can down the road.
We are making some steps in the funding of border security, but I think we should finish up what weve started there, like the fence on the southern border, for instance. We need to do a better job of enforcing laws that are already on the books.
Thats why I was so happy when I put persuasion upon and helped get ICE to bring an immigration and customs enforcement office to Colorado Springs. We did not have that in our district and Im glad that we do now.
Another thing I would want to work on is a more workable plan for people who are working in our country who dont necessarily want to have citizenship but just want to make money to support their families, either here or back home. Finding a way for them to do that without promising amnesty is critical.
We can have a worker plan without citizenship and without amnesty.
For those who want citizenship, Im all for them joining the line, taking their proper place in line and working through the system that we already have in place.
The last thing I want is for people who have been here illegally to suddenly go to the front of the line, because of the bad message that sends to the people who have gone through the process.
Q: According to the Colorado Springs Gazette, you have a record of supporting President Bush 99.3% of the time in the current session. Does that mean that you pretty much agree with George W. Bush on everything?
No, were not in agreement on everything. For instance, moments ago I expressed serious misgivings on the bailout plan. At this point, I am leaning against supporting it. Thats obviously a huge issue.
I disagreed with the president on immigration.
What I am glad about with my voting record is that I have a very high conservative rating by people who look at my record. And Im not in tune with the Democrats.
Its not so much that Im in tune with the president as that Im not in tune with Nancy Pelosi. I do have a high record of agreeing with the president, but the 99.3% was my opposition to Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats, when there is a philosophical difference between the parties.
Sometimes bills are voted on by consensus and theres a lot of agreement, but where there is disagreement, Im on the opposite side more than just about everybody.
My philosophy of governing is more free market, more self-reliance, more personal responsibility and more limited government, than the Democratic approach to government.
There are many people in my district not just Republicans but unaffiliated and some Democrats who like my position of standing up for traditional and conservative values. I plan to continue doing that. I really cant do otherwise. And if the chips fall in such a way that Im reelected, thats so much the better.