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5 Questions with...

S.C. 5th District U.S. Rep. Mick Mulvaney

Posted: February 21, 2013 4:51 p.m.
Updated: February 22, 2013 5:00 a.m.

(Editor’s Note: C-I staff reporter Denise Schnese (above, right) recently traveled to Washington, D.C., on personal business. Ahead of the trip, Schnese arranged to meet with U.S. Congressman Mick Mulvaney, who represents South Carolina’s 5th District in the U.S. House of Representatives. The interview has been edited for publication.)

Q: Economic development in Kershaw County was mixed in 2012. What are you doing to bring new business to the area?

A: (Mulvaney began his answer by talking about how the practice of earmarks is now a thing of the past in Washington, D.C., moving away from funding specific projects and toward creating an environment in which business and industry can thrive.)

So what we try to do now is create the environment where things can grow in South Carolina and then leave the more targeted efforts to the state department of commerce, with whom we work very closely. So what do we work on? We are working on trying to fix the tax system. A great example of something that is hurting South Carolina right now: a lot of our companies that do business in South Carolina also do business overseas. About 40 percent of the jobs that have been created in South Carolina the last 10 years came either from export related businesses or direct foreign investment by companies that are either based overseas or are doing business overseas. The example of all time is Duracell. I don’t know if you knew this or not, but if you have ever bought a Duracell AA battery (which probably everybody has), every single Duracell AA battery in the whole country is made in Lancaster on Highway 9. The company that owns that Proctor and Gamble also owns a plant in China and they made money last year in Lancaster and they made money in China and then they came and decided to come and look at expanding the plant in Lancaster and they wanted to do this huge expansion and what they found was when they wanted to bring the money that they made in China back to South Carolina we were going to tax them on that. Now they already paid taxes in China on the money that they made and our government was going to tax them again when they brought the money back into South Carolina. We are the only developed country in the whole world that does that. As a result the expansion in Lancaster was not nearly as big as it might otherwise would have been. They left the money in China and expanded the plant there, instead of expanding the plant here. This is an example of how our federal tax system discourages growth here. And a lot of successful companies that are based here that are making money overseas we don’t let them bring it back.

(Mulvaney then proceeded to speak of another company, this time from Chesterfield County, he said was adversely affected by environmental regulations.)

We are trying to fix that as well. So it is a long way of saying that we deal with the larger strategic issues of how to create a circumstance in which we can grow South Carolina businesses.

Q: Kershaw County is a rural county and they like it that way. They like it clean, and they like to promote their history, horses and hospitality. What can you do in terms of promoting the businesses that they already have?

A: True, but before I move on to that keep in mind though that it is those types of businesses that form a foundation on which other businesses are formed. The fact that we have a good manufacturing base gives us a certain skill set -- logistics management. That’s what attracts somebody like Target to Kershaw County. So what do you get from that? You get the lawyers that help them and the accountants. The manufacturing base is a base, just like agriculture is a base, and other industries service those bases, so it is important to have a diversified economy. So yes, in Camden it is more tourist driven, but again that is local.

Q: Historic Camden and the Camden Battlefield are seeking National Park Service (NPS) status, and that is something that can be done on the federal level. Where does that stand?

A: It is, and I think that is something that we have worked on the last year or two.

I honestly don’t remember. I can’t remember if we met with folks specifically from Camden or if there was a larger group that was working on a national historic trail tied into the National Thread Trail. It has been a while …. We have not done anything in this Congress, of course we are only one month into this Congress. But I honestly don’t remember. And that would be the kind of thing that the office in Rock Hill probably would have handled. I met with them one time when I was down there, but I honestly don’t know what we are doing.

(Mulvaney’s communications director later stated that his office successfully worked to have the NPS’ comment on the proposal extended into February 2012.)

Q: You mentioned that you were at one time in private business. You were the owner/operator of a Mexican restaurant. What made you decide to do that?

A: I needed a job. That is always a good motivation. I had been in the home building and real estate business. And in 2008 my business shrank by 95 percent in one year … Quite frankly I needed a job, I needed a way to make a living and I had had some experience while working as a lawyer for this particular company and had a chance to buy one of their franchises and run it, and that is what I did.

I got out because I won this election and you can’t have another job when you are a member of Congress.

Q: Washington, D.C. … is the center of leadership for the country and I think that readers would find that interesting. I think that readers would like to know what leadership means to you?

A: My job is to figure out what’s going on. This is representative government and I come up here because there are 700,000 people back home who can’t. We don’t all have time to participate in the process. That’s the idea behind representative democracy. We want to be farmers, and we want to be parents and we want to do this and that -- so you go. And you figure out what is going on in the nations’ capitol, or the state capitol or the county capitol and then you come back and you tell us what is going on and then we will try and get a feel for what we want you to do on our behalf. That is old representative government. That is the basis of what we do. And despite the fact that the buildings are real big and everything is shiny and bright up here and the furniture is real nice that’s still what we do. I’m here to represent 700,000 people. I went to the inauguration and a lot of my Republican friends did not. Somebody asked me why am I going to the inauguration. And I said why wouldn’t I? Forty five percent of the people that I represent voted for Barak Obama for president. I have to go and represent them at the inauguration. Leadership to me is coming up here, trying to do my best using my God-given abilities to understand the issues, then going home, explaining them to people and then listening to what they have to say. It is servant leadership. My job is part teacher, part newspaper reporter … it is a multifaceted job. That’s what I do.

We are doing one town hall again next week which is a telephone town hall which is really cool, with about 3,000 or 4,000 people. And we get on the line about once a month. We randomly called 30,000 or 40,000 people and said look your Congressman is going to be on the line for “Open Mic.” Whatever questions you want to ask, take your two minutes and ask. And even though not everybody gets to ask a question, everybody gets to listen to the questions and the answers. And we will do the town halls like I was in Rock Hill and I was just in Sumter two weeks ago. I just bring up three or four things that are going on in Washington and here is what they mean. We hear about them. We hear about the sequester, you hear fiscal cliff … Here is my best attempt at explaining what that means in real English and why you should care about it and then get feedback from people on what they think about it and come back here and vote on it. Vote to change it, vote to kill it, vote to support it. It’s old fashioned representative government.



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