Labrador wants to 'complete the mission'

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COEUR d'ALENE - Congressman Raul Labrador believes he is making a difference as Idaho's 1st District representative, and he is asking voters for a chance to continue the work.

"I think Washington (D.C.) has changed a little bit because I'm there," the Republican told The Press Wednesday. "I want to have the opportunity to complete the mission I went back to perform."

During his time in office, Congress has focused more on cutting spending and deficits, he said.

The annual federal budget deficit dropped to $680 billion for 2013, roughly half the level it ran when he entered Congress, he said. The unemployment rate hovered at 10 percent when he arrived; now it's down to 6.7 percent.

"That's because people like me went back to Washington to stop the agenda of President Obama," Labrador said.

Still, the spending cuts haven't been deep enough. He wants 3 to 5 percent cuts in all agencies, including defense.

"You cannot tell me that we can't find fraud, waste and abuse in the Pentagon," he said. "You have a level of bureaucracy that is unprecedented, and you actually talk to the military brass and they will tell you that, 'We have too many generals.'"

Labrador said a lot of "fat" can be cut from the Pentagon without hurting the U.S.'s strategic mission in the world.

The largest cuts need to be from Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security, he said. The eligibility age for Medicare and Social Security must be increased for future recipients, and he also favors so-called means testing.

In another term, Labrador said he would want to work on natural resource management issues.

"Specifically the timber industry, allowing Idaho to have more of its land back" in state control, he said.

He also wants to tackle immigration reform, because he believes the country has a broken system.

Labrador said he is currently working to make it easier for people to stay in the U.S. who complete education and training here in fields like technology.

"They can actually make America stronger by staying here and working," he said.

He said the country needs more reasonable rules for illegal immigrants who leave the U.S. voluntarily and then try and re-enter legally. He said there are 3- and 10-year "bars" to re-entry, and he wants the 10-year dropped.

"If you want to go back to your home country and do it the right way, and come in legally, (the federal government needs to) get rid of the impediments from doing it the right way," Labrador said.

Action in those areas will be seen first in the House, he promised.

Small improvements will be the limit for immigration reform, he said. A single, major overhaul of the system is unlikely.

"We can fix the entire problem, if we tackle one issue at a time," he said.

As for taxes, Labrador said he would vote for the elimination of all tax loopholes, ending the advantages some businesses have to others.

"It's a fairer, simpler system that picks no winners and losers," he said.

Tax reform would create jobs, he promised, as would a reduction in the size of government.

The government should be limited in what it does, he said, but what it does do, it should do well. Running prisons is an example of what government should be doing, not the private sector, he said.

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