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Advocating the Issues that Count for Clubs: An Exclusive Interview with Rep. Tim Scott

As one of two freshmen on the Elected Leadership Committee, Congressman Timothy Scott (R-S.C) has taken a prominent role in the House of Representatives. He also serves on the influential House Rules Committee and was asked to serve as a Deputy Whip. Scott represents the First District of South Carolina—an area with the highest concentration of golf clubs in the country.

Scott is an advocate for smaller government, lower taxes and restoring fiscal responsibility in Washington, and an outspoken critic of the National Labor Relation Board’s (NLRB) decision to sue Boeing over expansion plans in South Carolina. He recently shared his views with NCA on an array of topics that impact the private club industry.

National Club Association: Representing the congressional district that has the highest number of golf clubs of any district in the country, you certainly know how important the golf industry is to the economic well-being of your constituents and your home state of South Carolina. Unfortunately, private clubs and the golf industry are still struggling because of the economy. How can Congress get this country back on sound economic footing?

Rep. Tim Scott: First, I am thankful for the role the golf industry plays in South Carolina’s economy, be it through providing jobs, attracting tourists or a number of other factors. In my district this is even more pronounced, and we are looking forward to hosting the PGA Championship on Kiawah Island next year.

To get our country moving forward, we must take the necessary steps to restore the confidence of our job creators and investors. The current tax and regulatory environments have created a huge amount of uncertainty throughout the nation, and we must get back to encouraging private sector ingenuity instead of punishing it. The golf industry has not been immune to this atmosphere of hesitation. Expansion and improvements to facilities are more closely scrutinized as a result of this economic climate. Legislative initiatives to address these tax and regulatory impediments have been proposed, and in some cases, passed by the House. Senate action is needed to get these measures to the President’s desk.

NCA: The President has recently proposed a new $447 billion dollar economic stimulus package. This plan looks strikingly similar to the stimulus package passed in February 2009. That plan cost nearly $800 billion, but America’s economy continued to decline. Do you believe this new plan will be the silver-bullet we are looking for?

TS: My simple answer is no. We cannot spend our way out of the current situation. However, there are certain aspects of the President’s proposal on which we can find common ground—such as veterans’ hiring bills, the recent trade agreements, and a three percent withholding bill. My sincere hope is he stops focusing on the ‘my-way-or-the-highway’ rhetoric and sets his sights on what we can accomplish.

NCA: As one of only two freshmen to serve on the Elected House Leadership Committee, you deal with Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) quite often. How has the new freshman focus on federal spending cuts changed the dynamics of Congress?

TS: This freshman class has come in with a clear-cut mandate from our constituents, and that is to get our nation back on solid fiscal ground. Speaker Boehner and Majority Leader Cantor have two of the toughest jobs in Washington, and I am appreciative of their efforts within our conference.

There is no doubt we have helped change the debate in Washington, but we still have plenty of work left to do. Our objective is to go beyond debate to decisions. The coming months and the super committee’s recommendations will go a long way towards showing just how much change has been affected.

NCA: Private clubs are extremely concerned by the actions of a small federal agency that has recently taken on a more active role—the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Throughout 2011, the NLRB has proposed new regulations and issued legal rulings that vastly simplify the union organizing process. In most circumstances, private club employees are given higher wages and competitive benefits to ensure the “best of the best” stay with a club. The NLRB’s actions might jeopardize that employer/employee dynamic if left unchecked. NCA members are strongly opposed to the NLRB’s recent actions. How is Congress reacting to the NLRB’s increased activities?

TS: I fully believe that the NLRB has overreached its authority in an unprecedented way. To suggest hypothetical jobs were lost in one state, and propose 
punishing another state because of that perceived loss, is beyond my ability to comprehend.

I have introduced legislation, the Protecting Jobs From Government Interference Act, which will prevent the NLRB from being able to destroy jobs as a remedy if they find laws have been broken. With national unemployment at 9.1 percent in September and 11 percent in South Carolina, we cannot afford to allow the federal government to kill jobs. My legislation passed the House of Representatives in September, and is now awaiting further action in the U.S. Senate.

NCA: NCA and our allies on the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace have lobbied to insert policy riders into the NLRB’s funding bills to prohibit the use of federal funds for implementation or enforcement of these recent regulations and rulings. Do you support policy riders as a means of controlling the NLRB?

TS: I have also cosponsored the Protecting American Jobs Act, which removes the NLRB’s judicial power and allows cases to be settled where the rest of us must go to resolve disputes—the federal court system.

We must look at all avenues to control the current massive expansion of governmental rules and regulations. Moving forward, I can assure you I will leave all 
options on the table.

NCA: Private clubs are also concerned with new Department of Labor (DOL) regulations regarding the H-2B Visa Program. When private clubs cannot find American workers for seasonal work, the H-2B pro- gram has been a valuable source of temporary foreign workers for our industry. Recently, DOL issued a new regulation changing the way wages are determined for these H-2B workers. DOL’s own estimates indicate that wages for these workers will increase by an average of nearly $4.50/hour—well above levels that can be supported by private clubs. NCA and our allies on the H-2B Workforce Coalition have filed a lawsuit to stop this new wage rule and have been successful in adding policy riders to DOL’s funding bill for FY 2012. What is your position on the new H-2B regulation?

TS: This proposed rule would greatly increase labor costs for employers and uses Davis-Bacon and other union-friendly laws to set the wage that must be paid to certain seasonal workers. Once again, the federal government should be creating the right environment for job growth, and this certainly does not fit.

NCA: It seems that every day, private clubs are getting bombarded with new regulations coming from Washington. Unelected bureaucrats are issuing new rules at a break-neck pace. Thankfully, leaders like you have been supportive of legislation that would make it more difficult for such regulations to be proposed. One such bill is H.R. 527—the Regulatory Flexibility Improvements Act of 2011. This legislation will ensure every new regulation is truly analyzed to determine whether it adversely impacts small businesses. We know you are supportive of this bill, but what is the likelihood it will reach President Obama’s desk?

TS: I would certainly support the Regulatory Flexibility Improvements Act if it were to come to the floor. We have a hard road ahead to see this legislation reach the President’s desk, but will continue pushing to make it happen. This is too important of an issue to pull our foot off the pedal.

NCA: Do you see any other way to rein in these regulatory agencies?

TS: The best way we can rein in the regulatory agencies is at the ballot box next November. Outside of that, we will keep focusing on this issue and pushing bills forward in the House, such as our recent votes on the EPA Regulatory Relief Act and the Transparency in Regulatory Analysis of Impacts on the Nation Act.

NCA: It has been nearly 21 months since the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) was signed into law by President Obama. In that time, only one provision has been repealed—the 1099 reporting requirement. NCA and our allies on the Small Business Coalition for Affordable Healthcare worked to ensure that provision was repealed. Unfortunately, this law places many other burdens and costs on small businesses. From an employer mandate that will fine clubs even when they offer insurance and health care regulations that strip insurance from clubs when they make financially prudent changes to their plan to new taxes and fees that will be passed on to clubs by insurance companies, this law will increase costs to the private club industry while limiting insurance options for their employees. The Repeal the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act (H.R. 2) passed the House but was defeated in the Senate. Do you see any way a full repeal of the law can pass in this Congress?

TS: The first vote I took as a member of Congress was to repeal the PPACA. The House stepped forward and said immediately that we must repeal this flawed legislation. Realistically, a full repeal in this Congress will probably not happen because of the U.S. Senate. This is another area where change will have to start at the ballot box.

NCA: NCA has worked extensively to lobby for H.R. 1744, the American Job Protection Act, which will repeal the onerous employer mandate section of the PPACA. We thank you for being a co-sponsor of that bill. Do you see it coming up for a vote in the House any time in the near future? 

TS: I was proud to cosponsor this legislation, and certainly hope to see it come to the floor soon. The bill also has bipartisan support, which is a good sign for moving forward in the future.

NCA: Is there any realistic hope for other legislative fixes to this law or will private clubs simply have to wait for the Supreme Court to rule on its constitutionality?

TS: I remain committed to repeal of the PPACA and will continue to use every opportunity to express my constituents’ total dissatisfaction with this horrible initiative. There are certainly pieces of the bill we have and will be able to take on, such as the 1099 mandate and penalizing grandfathered plans.

NCA: With the 2012 presidential election primaries beginning shortly, all eyes will be on the race for the Republican nomination. What are your thoughts about the race and the current crop of Republican contenders?

TS: I think Republicans have a wide variety of candidates to choose from, which is a good thing for the party. Having had a chance to meet most of the candidates, I am comfortable we have a great group to find our eventual nominee.

NCA: How do you see the election for the House of Representatives turning out?

TS: As for the House, I am confident Republicans will retain control. The Senate will certainly be a tough battle, but we have a great opportunity with so many Democratic incumbents up for reelection.

NCA: Will Republicans gain the four 
seats needed to take the Senate in 2012 or 
will the Democrats maintain control?

TS: I do believe the Senate is within 
reach. Voter turnout will be critical.

NCA: Having served the people of South Carolina in local, state and now federal government, what have you found most interesting about your time in public service? Though it is early in your House career, has your experience in Congress met your expectations?

TS: I truly look at my role as being a servant to the people of the United States and of South Carolina. I have been very blessed to be given this opportunity, and will always be grateful for it. Fighting to preserve the American dream for the next generation is an awesome opportunity.

Serving in Congress always keeps you on your toes, as there is a huge breadth of issues to learn about seemingly every week. I work very hard to ensure I am always expanding my knowledge base across the board, and I am able to touch as many lives as possible in a positive way.

NCA: Most importantly, NCA members really want to know one thing: Do you get a chance to visit some of the great clubs in your district to enjoy the beauty and tranquility (and frustration) of playing a round of golf every now and then? We hope you do.

TS: I enjoy visiting everywhere—from Kiawah Island near Charleston and Litchfield Country Club in Georgetown to Tidewater Golf Club in North Myrtle Beach. I am lucky to represent such a beautiful district, and invite everyone to come and enjoy a weekend (or two) in South Carolina’s First District!

Image captions in order of appearance:

NCA Vice President of Government Relations Brad Steele meets with Rep. Scott.

Congressman Scott questions NLRB Acting General Counsel Lafe Solomon during the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee’s field hearing in Charleston this past June. The hearing focused on the NLRB’s massive overreach into the business decisions of a private-sector business, threatening at least 1,100 jobs in South Carolina.

Congressman Scott meets with First District veterans at the National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Congressman Scott speaks out against overreaching federal regulations as part of his Regulations Tour during November 2011.

Photos courtesy of the Office of Rep. Tim Scott.

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