Spratt Kicks Off Re-Election Campaign
March 28, 2006
Rock Hill, SC – U.S. Rep. John Spratt (D-SC) announced last week that he is running again for Congress. Spratt is the ranking Democrat on the Budget Committee and second ranking on Armed Services. He has represented the Fifth District since 1983.
Traveling his district, Spratt noted that unlike his opponent, he did not have Dick Cheney or Karl Rove at his side, but he had something better. In York County, four mayors endorsed him. In Sumter, two mayors and a state senator spoke in his support, and in Hartsville, the mayors of both Hartsville and Darlington spoke on his behalf.
Spratt told supporters that he was running because “there is so much at stake, with the budget deep in deficit; with 77 million baby boomers about to retire and Social Security and Medicare Security at risk; with millions of Americans insecure about their jobs as well as their retirement; and with terrorism looming and war seething in Iraq and Afghanistan, and no end in sight.”
Spratt said that he did not have solutions for every problem, but that he had “the ideas and perspective that come from experience, and a record to prove that I can bring people together and work out hard problems.”
Spratt stressed constituent service, saying that he had “chosen a staff with an eye to making service to my constituents second to none. Over the years, we have helped hundreds of folks get a fair shake out of the federal government. We have also helped governments throughout the district get their fair share of federal aid and grants.” Among the landmark achievements: settling the Catawba land claim, helping save Shaw Air Force Base, and seeing that I-73 will come through the Pee Dee.
Spratt mentioned many smaller accomplishments, for example, securing funds for federally qualified health care centers from Rock Hill to Sumter and in smaller towns like McBee, Ridgeway, and Society Hill. He contrasted his record in Congress with that of his Republican opponent, Ralph Norman, in the General Assembly. When Norman had to choose between the Governor’s veto and family health care centers, he voted to cut health care centers by $444,000. When he had to choose between the Governor’s veto and $250,000 in deferred maintenance funds needed by USC-Sumter, he was one of 12 who voted against USC-Sumter. Norman was one of two to vote against $1.8 million in research funding for Clemson and one of four who voted not to fund the Special Olympics.
Spratt called “constituent service and the projects back home every bit as important as the role I play in Congress.” But he said that he was running on his record in Congress and the potential for doing more.
“If Democrats take the House, I will chair the Budget Committee, and down the road, I will have a good chance of chairing Armed Services.”
Spratt was one of four members of Congress who hammered out the Balanced Budget Act of 1997, which put the budget in surplus for the first time in thirty years. By 2000 the surplus was $236 billion. But within two years after President Bush took office, the surplus was gone. The deficit in 2005 hit $413 billion.
To make room for the budgets of the Bush Administration, Congress has raised the debt ceiling of the United States four times in five years by $3.015 trillion; and said Spratt, “There is no end in sight, no plan or prospect of balancing the budget.”
“If you want to know why I am running, I’ll give it to you in a nutshell,” said Spratt. “It’s to put our country back on the path to solvency; to keep our children and grandchildren from being buried under a mountain of debt.”
But Spratt said he also wanted “to see the budget balanced the right way. Not on the backs of older Americans by slashing Medicare and Medicaid. Not at the expense of our children’s future by cutting education. And not by shortchanging the bold investments that are essential to our future, like alternative fuels.”
Spratt held up the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 as an example of what one could accomplish with seniority and experience. “Because I had a seat at that table in 1997,” said Spratt, “I was able to save South Carolina hospitals $300 million in Medicaid funding. In addition, we created the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and made medical insurance available to children in working families whose parents aren’t fortunate enough to have coverage. For that, I won the praise of Marian Wright Edelman, a Bennettsville native who heads the Children’s Defense Fund. She wrote The State: ‘The tireless work and leadership of Rep. John Spratt have made it possible for many of America’s uninsured children to get the healthy start they deserve.’”
Spratt teamed up with Rep. Clyburn and Senator Hollings to alter the last two highway authorization acts, so that the formula for allocating federal gas taxes is more favorable to South Carolina. As a result, South Carolina is allocated nearly $500 million a year in federal gas taxes, versus $230 million only a few years ago.
“Still,” said Spratt, “it takes more than seniority. In a House divided, you have to bring people together, find common ground, and forge consensus. The State has featured me as a bridge-builder who can reach across the aisle and work out compromises. I wear that label with pride. People say they are tired of fractious politics. So am I. I'm running again because I believe I have something to contribute that Congress sorely needs: the ability to find common ground and get things done.
“That’s why I am asking the people of the Fifth District to let me to keep working for them, for a better country and a brighter future,” said Spratt.