Penn. Rep. Takes Back His Old House Seat

One of the most hotly contested congressional races this election season was in Pennsylvania's 8th district in Bucks County, just north of Philadelphia. Host Scott Simon talks with Republican Mike Fitzpatrick, who defeated incumbent Patrick Murphy to regain the House seat he lost to Murphy back in 2006.

SCOTT SIMON, host:

One of the most hotly contested congressional races this election season was in Pennsylvania's 8th District. Bucks County, just north of Philadelphia, was a rematch. Democrat Pat Murphy defending his seat against Republican Mike Fitzpatrick, whom Mr. Murphy had defeated back in 2006.

A couple of weeks ago we traveled to Bucks County to preview the race. Carole Anzivino of New Hope reflected the sentiments of a lot of people with whom we spoke when she said...

Ms. CAROLE ANZIVINO: I feel that we need a big change, and I think that whether they are Republicans or Democrats, for the most part those that have been in power for a long time and have forgotten why they are there need to go.

SIMON: On Tuesday, Mr. Fitzpatrick won back his seat with 54 percent of the vote. He joins us now.

Congressman-Elect Fitzpatrick, thanks very much for being with us.

Representative-Elect MIKE FITZPATRICK (Republican, Pennsylvania): Sure. Thanks for having me.

SIMON: And you've just heard one of your constituents. Is that how you see your victory?

Rep.-Elect FITZPATRICK: I think to a certain extent, yes. I think that they believe that Washington is broken. They probably blame to a certain extent both parties. But I think what the people are saying is they want us to govern differently. Not just differently from the Democrats, but differently from the previous Republican majority. And so I think the job, number one, is to slim down the size of government, to live within our means, and to put people back to work.

SIMON: How do you think you get along with Tea Party Republicans? That's something new from your last time in Congress.

Rep.-Elect FITZPATRICK: I believe I get along with everybody. I mean I work hard at being a good listener. The Tea Party organizations - grassroots organizations - reflect a, I would say, growing sentiment in the district and across the country, and so, you know, I will seek to be a good representative for the grassroots organizations as well as, you know, all Democrats and Republicans and independently registered voters of the district.

SIMON: And what are your top, let's say, one, two, three priorities?

Rep.-Elect FITZPATRICK: Well, you know, there's a, I guess there was a saying this year in many of the congressional races that the three top issues are jobs, jobs and jobs. But I think it's more than that. Economic development and job creation is important, but I think that the problem with rising unemployment in our economy is a symptom of some other problems that exist in the nation's capital, which is that we still have a federal government that spends more than it takes in. So it's a federal government that spends too much, as a result tends to tax too much. It looks to raise taxes rather than reduce spending or look at solutions like an across-the-board reduction in the federal workforce.

We always tend to look at these problems and say, well, how do we raise more revenue than cut expenses? And we also have a federal government that tends to over-regulate the private sector. And so these are problems that job creators -getting back to the first problem of high unemployment - these are the problems that job creators say need to be solved in order to encourage private entrepreneurs to start creating jobs in the private sector again, reduce regulation, reduce taxation, reduce frivolous litigation and encourage private sector growth.

SIMON: You must know, Congressman-elect Fitzpatrick, that following the meltdown down on Wall Street a lot of Americans think that over-regulation is not a problem, that on the contrary, they think there wasn't enough supervision.

Rep.-Elect FITZPATRICK: Well, maybe accurate in certain areas and inaccurate in others. There was probably lack of oversight coming from Congress on organizations like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. And so it's not just regulation, it's how much oversight, once you regulate and create and you fund organizations, like the government sponsored and enterprise of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, you need to continue to monitor it. Not just regulate because it's going wrong, but call them before a congressional committee, ask them the tough questions, and demand answers. And I'm not sure Congress has always done that. They're great at coming or dreaming up new programs, creating laws so members of Congress can go back and take credit for laws whether we needed them or not, regulating every time something went wrong.

So if you think about, you know, Sarbanes-Oxley response to what went wrong with Enron and WorldCom, I think looking back on it many years later, some would say we hurt a lot of good companies by over-regulating in a response to something that went dangerously and seriously wrong in one company. So I think we need a balanced approach and I think we need a thoughtful approach and I think most of the times we don't need a political approach. And I think for far too long weve gotten a political approach out of Washington rather than a reasoned thoughtful approach.

SIMON: Mike Fitzpatrick, returning to Congress from Pennsylvania's 8th District, thanks very much, sir.

Rep.-Elect FITZPATRICK: Thanks for having me.

Copyright © 2010 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.