Shows speaks out on jobs, trade, politics
By By Fredie Carmichael/staff writer
Feb. 25, 2002
U.S. Rep. Ronnie Shows, D-Miss., discusses a variety of issues from the North America Free Trade Agreement, to politics and congressional redistricting in today's editorial board interview.
The Meridian Star: What do you see as the fundamental differences between yourself and U.S. Rep Chip Pickering, R-Miss.?
Shows: First of all I respect him and his family. In Jones County they always say you're either kin to a Shows or a Pickering. I think, fundamentally, one of the things we've taken different views on is NAFTA. And it has devastated the economy in south Mississippi, especially here in Clarke County. All these jobs are going to Mexico and I just can't see voting for a bill that makes it more attractive for our hometown industries to leave. We ought to find some way of helping those infrastructures to recoup those lost jobs.
So I think I have more of a rural sense and plus I've done a lot of different things. I've been a teacher, a coach and I've farmed. But I'm not going to campaign on any one issue. I'm just going to run on Ronnie Shows, that's just the way I am.
If I think the Republican issue is right, I vote for it. If I think it's wrong, I vote against it. If you look at my voting record, I voted for the faith based initiative, the second tax stimulus package, the education bill … I mean, if you look at my record, you won't find many things that we differ on.
But some of the things dealing with the economy we do take different approaches on. I want to make sure that my votes represent the work ethic of my district and make sure people have enough money left over to pay their bills and buy groceries and medicine.
I think my vote more represents my district than his would. And I think the way I work the district represents that. When people are out of a job they don't care if you're Republican or Democrat, they just want you to help them get a job back.
The Star: Tell us a little more about your take on what's happening in the loss of jobs in rural Mississippi.
Shows: If you'll look what's happened just in the 4th District alone, we've lost better than 6,000 jobs. Jeff Davis County, where I live, does not have one single manufacturing job. Our employees are the schools and the hospitals. And every bit of it is in Mexico.
These small, rural counties are left out of the formula because they don't have the means or money to go out and get the infrastructure to be able to take on these new industries. Their EDA guys aren't riding on planes every day soliciting jobs. They're working on minimum budgets, but are expected to go out there and land big industries.
And all these people are saying that NAFTA provides all these programs to help them out. The only thing NAFTA provides is retraining. Well, what are you retraining them for?
The Star: This is going to be a key political race on the national scope with a lot of money to be spent by both parties in the campaign process. Do you think that factors in to how you run a campaign?
Shows: I think he's (Pickering) probably got $1.2 million in the bank today for his campaign. I'm not anywhere near that, I think I may have $400,000. When I have a fund-raiser I have to have 100 people there to raise $5,000 whereas he could do it with only three.
He's been a very proficient fund-raiser. I mean, when you've got the contacts and the deep pockets they've got all over the country it's hard. It's tough to compete against that money. Other than that, though, nothing will be different.
The Star: What are some of the biggest issues you see facing our country in the coming years?
Shows: I was telling someone the other day, after serving as the state highway commissioner for 10 years I felt I had lost a feel for some of the issues people were concerned about in government. But after getting out and talking to people before the last election, I came back telling people that the biggest things people are talking about out there is medicine, healthcare, making sure Social Security and Medicare is going to be there, the national debt, education and jobs.
The only thing you can add to that list is terrorism. Other than that everything else is pretty much the same. Our interest on our national debt costs us a billion dollars a day. And that debt is increasing right now, it increased $130 billion this past year.
So even after we get through this war on terrorism and it's going to take a few years we better be careful on our budgets. They're going to come back here asking to raise the debt ceiling so we can do more deficit spending.
I'm going to research that and see where I stand on that before voting on that. I don't know if I can vote for a budget that will cut transportation $9 billion. These are things we've got to take a close look at.