When Congressman David Schweikert gets home to Fountain Hills from his Washington, D.C. office in the House of Representatives, he enjoys the time spent with his wife, Joyce and four-year-old daughter, Olivia, and he also loves talking with constituents in Arizona’s Congressional District 6.
As a Republican, he recently cast his vote in the House against the Articles of Impeachment against President Donald Trump.
“The thing I fret about is if this becomes the standard for the future, will we ever have a president who is not impeached with a divided Congress?” Schweikert asked. “We have weaponized this process and I feel we may pay a societal price.”
As a policy and numbers wonk and a senior member of the House Ways and Means Committee, Schweikert enjoys talking about abstract principals with charts and graphs, and does so with a weekly speech from the House floor. He admits he is never sure who understands, or even watches what he is saying.
He is a math geek who can explain the debt in terms not everyone will grasp. However, he can make it relatively simple in saying that entitlement programs are what drive the country’s debt. Decisions made long ago to create Medicare and Social Security are the primary sources of debt today.
“Less than 30 percent of spending is discretionary and more than half of that is for defense,” Schweikert said. “[These programs] are promises that were made; I’m optimistic there is a path [to reduce debt].”
In spite of all the turmoil and strife in Washington, Schweikert is remarkably upbeat and positive about the future. He says he is bullish on the economy, with the job market for unskilled labor at an all-time high. He finds it curious that the nation is still divided in what he sees as a golden age.
Schweikert says the image of Washington presented on the various cable new networks defies reality from his perspective.
“We don’t just sit in a room all day and mock each other,” Schweikert said. He said there is a good deal of bipartisan work getting done.
He realizes the party polarization is real, however, and says it can make it difficult to get work done.
“It is a struggle to pacify the extremes of the [party] bases,” he said.
Schweikert said the vitriol is intense and he is not sure how to balance perception with reality. He added that incentives for polarization can outweigh the ability to explain the complexity of the situation.
“Polarization blinds us,” Schweikert said. “We can’t look at the same information and come to a conclusion on how to develop policy.”
At the same time Schweikert says the work at his district office is busy, but is becoming more mundane.
“We are very busy with people with questions about Social Security or Medicare,” Schweikert said. “We are getting fewer issues with the VA. In some ways that is a good sign.”
Schweikert takes the job as a representative seriously. He said he will talk with anyone, anytime.
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“I’ll have coffee with anyone when I am home,” Schweikert said.