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Tom Watson Says Government Spending Is Nation’s Biggest Concern, Threat

Businessman warns federal spending is unsustainable, and economy can't grow until it steps aside

Tom Watson has dollar signs on his mind.

Tom Watson
Tom Watson

The Summerland resident beat four other Republican candidates in the 23rd Congressional District primary in June, and his priorities lie in reining in federal government spending.

Incumbents like Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, “drove us off the financial cliff,” said Watson, who added that he wouldn’t mind if they were all fired, since “almost everything in the country is on the wrong trajectory.”

Watson is a retired Navy pilot and businessman. His resumé includes time at IBM, creating a Los Angeles-based startup technology company and now, the Goleta technology company Agile RF Inc., which designs and manufactures next-generation wireless components.

This is Watson’s first foray into politics, prompted by his discontent with Capps, the district’s longtime representative. He criticized Capps as being “out of touch” and says he would be more available to constituents as he’s “not afraid to go in public and take my lumps.”

As to spending, he says the federal government needs to “stop digging” and downsize. While hundreds of thousands of private-sector jobs have been lost in this recession, government jobs have increased, partly due to last year’s $862 billion stimulus bill, he said.

Meanwhile, the national debt rate shows no signs of slowing, and when Noozhawk spoke to Watson, the national public debt was $13.466 trillion and the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was about $14.5 trillion — making the ratio 92.8 percent. Ninety percent can be a tipping point, he said, and as a comparison, he noted that Greece’s debt-to-GDP ratio was 115 percent in 2009. Taxpayers are the ones who will get stuck with the bill, he said.

Specific policies like the health-care reform act signed into law in March contribute further to the problem, as people will end up paying more and getting less, he said.

Decisions by elected officials are at the root of the problem, he said, and divisiveness within Congress is partially caused by gerrymandering. Redistricting efforts could help eliminate “safe seats,” he said, noting his support for Proposition 20, the Nov. 2 ballot initiative that would add the responsibility for drawing congressional districts to the mission of the 14-member commission that is redrawing legislative boundaries. The commission grew out of the voter-approved Voters FIRST Act of 2008, but a dueling initiative, Proposition 27, on this year’s ballot aims to ax the committee and return the responsibilities to elected representatives.

Watson criticizes the move, saying it’s the incumbents’ way to maintain their district boundaries and remain in office.

Infighting in Washington, D.C., also has to do with a fundamental fork in the road, he said. Will the country stay on the path of an entrepreneurial free market or choose the route to a European social welfare model, which has a higher unemployment rate, he asked.

“Why we’d want to emulate a lower standing of living, I don’t know,” he said.

Watson has been busily campaigning and fundraising since March, and his run is lauded by the Santa Barbara Tea Party & Culpepper Society. In addition to his rallying cry for lower spending, he has said that Californians need to be open-minded to new revenues, including onshore or offshore gas and oil drilling.

Additional Resources

» Click here for Tom Watson’s Noozhawk Q&A

» Click here for Watson’s campaign Web site

» Lois Capps Proudly Runs on Her Record, and Congress’ Accomplishments

» John Hager Touts Independence, and a Laser Focus on Debt, Congressional Priorities

» Darrell Stafford Assails Out-of-Touch Congress, Runaway Deficit

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk or @NoozhawkNews. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.

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