Vitter talks energy issues during visit with Chamber

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 7, 2010

By David Vitrano


LAPLACE – Based on U.S. Sen. David Vitter’s Monday stop to speak with members of the River Region Chamber of Commerce, one thing is certain — he is not happy with the way things are going in Washington.

Vitter attacked cap and trade and other measures he sees as being detrimental to commerce in the state, such as the Employee Free Choice Act.

The senator said while he is in favor of a proposal to expand domestic oil and gas drilling, he does not want to see it tacked onto the end of a cap and trade bill. He called such tactics “taking away with the left hand what the right hand has extended.”

He added cap and trade is just “one threat to energy and the economy.” He identified another such threat as tax proposals that would increase the cost of domestic energy production.

“I’m working very hard to oppose all these proposals,” said Vitter.

In addressing the Employee Free Choice Act, a measure the Chamber also opposes, Vitter compared the bill to something out of “Alice in Wonderland” with its “upside-down title.” He said the measure would take away the “fair and free playing field” for local business.

“Nationally, our right-to-work environment is essential to attracting new business,” he said.

Following his short run-through of talking points, Vitter took questions from the audience, many of whom seemed at least as unimpressed with the Obama administration as the senator himself. Many of the questions clarified points Vitter had made earlier, but toward the end of the session one attendee asked about a matter that had been curiously absent from the earlier proceedings — healthcare.

In response, Vitter said, “Health is an important and a very personal issue.”

He added he believes the main sticking point most Americans have with the bill is its potential to drive the deficit up even further.

Now that the healthcare bill has passed, Vitter said he expects to see legal challenges to the bill as well as efforts to repeal and replace it.

Vitter’s own vision for reforming healthcare would involve “five focused bills,” each 25 pages or less. Among issues addressed in the bills would be pre-existing health conditions, the freedom to buy insurance across state lines, the astronomical price of prescription medicine and tort reform.

“In general, we need fundamental tax reform,” he said.

The present administration’s spending was a theme throughout the session.

“I certainly think economics and jobs should be top priority,” said Vitter. “I don’t see that same sense of urgency from the administration.”

Vitter is a supporter of the no-cost stimulus plan, which he said would “basically stimulate a lot of good job creation in this country.”

Vitter was hopeful some change might come with the next round of general elections, which will be held in the fall. He said, “I think you’re going to see some fairly dramatic election results.”