“We overregulate almost every aspect of American life.”

Sullivan 007 (2)Senator Sullivan discusses fight to reduce red tape and other challenges facing nation

WASHINGTON, DC – In remarks yesterday morning to a breakfast meeting of The Ripon Society, U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-AK) struck an optimistic but realistic tone about the challenges facing America at home and abroad, and shared his thoughts on how the country can meet these challenges in the coming year.

“With the resignation of the Speaker and with President Obama getting rolled by our adversaries at the UN,” Sullivan stated, “there’s a sense of dismay that things aren’t going so good.  But I’ve always been a glass-half-full kind of guy.  We’ve got to keep our eye on the long-term more than what may happen tomorrow or next week.”

Pointing to America’s global superiority in such areas as energy, technology, education, and national defense, the Alaska Senator continued:  “If you think about our comparative advantages relative to other countries, I think we have aces.  We don’t always realize it — President Obama plays it like we have deuces.  But we have aces.”

That said, Sullivan also pointed to one problem in particular Congress needs to address.

“The economy isn’t growing,” he stated bluntly.  “It’s the worst recovery in U.S. history.  The average GDP growth in the United States from 1790 to 2014 is about 3.7 percent.  That’s what’s made us great.  You don’t have great universities, you don’t have a great military, you don’t have great manufacturing unless you are growing the economy on a regular basis.

“The average GDP growth under President Obama and his administration is 1.3 percent.  This is a huge, huge issue.  It’s not debatable.  The economy under this administration has stunk.  If we start growing again at traditional levels of American growth, so many challenges that we have – whether it’s our national debt or our entitlement programs — become much easier to solve.”

Sullivan was elected to the Senate last November after serving as Alaska’s Attorney General and Commissioner of the state’s Department of Natural Resources.  In his first nine months in office, he has made reducing federal rules and red tape one of his top priorities, and, in fact, introduced legislation in August to achieve that goal.  The legislation is called The RED (Regulations Endanger Democracy) Tape Act.  Under Sullivan’s plan, a federal agency would be required to remove a regulation from the Federal Register for every new one promulgated. If an agency head refuses to offset a new regulation by repealing an existing regulation, cost of living adjustments will be withheld until the agency abides by the law.

“We overregulate almost every aspect of American life and the American economy,” he declared.  “We all want clean water and we all want clean air.  But come to my state.  We have the cleanest water and cleanest air in the world.  And it’s not because of the EPA.  It’s because we care about it as Alaskans.  But we also care about jobs.”

Following his remarks, the Republican lawmaker took questions on a wide range of topics, including the upcoming presidential election and the rise of Donald Trump.

“People have pride in this country,” Sullivan stated.  “But they know that we can do so much better.  I honestly believe that most of our problems emanate from this town.  I think that a lot of people share that belief.  There’s this enormous frustration.  And I think that’s what Donald Trump has tapped into.

“But you know, you can use that energy for good, not just in a negative focus.  The key is how you channel that energy, frustration and pride into positive developments.  That’s the real challenge.  Hopefully, we’re going to do that as a party.   We’ve got to win the White House.”

Sullivan was also asked about bipartisanship in the Senate and the importance of working across the aisle to get something done.

“I consider myself right of center,” he said.  “But I certainly try to work with the other side.  I go to dinners and lunches and have meetings.  I am all about trying to make friends and find common ground, certainly with Republicans but also with Democrats.  I’m going to go to a football game this weekend with Cory Booker.  I don’t have much in common with him from a policy standpoint, but I really like the guy.  He’s a good guy, and I’m sure we will have the opportunity to collaborate.

“One of my first amendments dealt with the fishing industry.  I like to call Alaska the ‘Superpower of Seafood.’  Sixty percent of all seafood harvested in America comes from Alaska.  We’re huge exporters.  Last year, we exported almost $2.5 billion of seafood – from a state of 730,000 people.  It’s a big issue for me.  So on the TPA negotiations, I was very supportive and worked with the President’s Cabinet trying to round up votes; worked with Froman, the USTR, Secretary Pritzker, Secretary Lew.  And I got an amendment that’s hopefully going to get through on principal negotiating objectives for our U.S. Trade Rep on opening foreign markets for America seafood products.  We’ve never had that as a principal negotiating objective – ever – in any TPA.  A lot of foreign fishing fleets are heavily subsidized by the government.  Ours are not.   I thought this was a really important issue, certainly for my state, but also for the country.

“I was trying to work this into the customs bill, and found that it’s important to get Democratic co-sponsors.  So this amendment was not called the Sullivan Amendment.  It was called the Sullivan-Markey-Warren Amendment.  I went home to Alaska, and was bragging about the Sullivan-Markey-Warren Amendment and how it’s going to help our industry.  Trust me – I got a couple of looks.   But so what?  Those guys have a fishing industry, too.  They care about this issue.  It helps their fishermen and people from Massachusetts.  I just think if it’s good for the country and good for my state, then I’ll work with anybody.”

With ISIS on the rise and Russia on the march, the Alaska Senator – who serves on the Armed Services Committee and is a Lieutenant Colonel in the Marine Corps Reserve, as well – was also asked about America’s seeming inability to shape events around the world.

“I think there has been this sense [from the Obama administration] that we need to withdraw,” he observed.  “And we’re now seeing what happens when the vacuum of American leadership is filled by countries that are not going to advance America’s interests.  The biggest problem in my view is the loss of credibility all over the world.  If you listen to President Obama’s speeches, or if you listen to Secretary Carter, whom I have a lot of respect for, they make these policy pronouncements that are pretty strong and pretty serious, but then are never followed up by action.”

“What does that do?  Some people say, ‘We don’t want to be provocative.’  Well, it’s more provocative to let a country change the complete facts on the ground and not challenge them, particularly after a speech.  There are a million examples of that.  There’s Syria, there’s Russia, there’s Ukraine – the list is long and it’s almost becoming laughable.  I think it just creates more danger.”

To view Senator Sullivan’s complete remarks yesterday morning to The Ripon Society, please click on the link below:

The Ripon Society is a public policy organization that was founded in 1962 and takes its name from the town where the Republican Party was born in 1854 – Ripon, Wisconsin. One of the main goals of The Ripon Society is to promote the ideas and principles that have made America great and contributed to the GOP’s success. These ideas include keeping our nation secure, keeping taxes low and having a federal government that is smaller, smarter and more accountable to the people.