Last week, I had the privilege of participating in a blogger conference call with House GOP Conference Chairman Mike Pence. After the conference call, I contacted his staff to see if Chairman Pence was interested in doing an interview. When I found out he was, his staff and I decided that an email Q & A would be the best fit into Chairman Pence’s schedule. Here is the text of my exchange with Chairman Pence:

1) One of the things worrying small businesses is affordable health care. First, are HAS’s part of that solution? Second, If HSAs are part of the solution, how would health care shoppers access information about which clinics or hospitals have the best record on the various procedures and which hospitals or clinics have the best prices?

A: Yes, I believe that Health Saving Accounts (HSA’s) are part of the solution. I think insurance carriers and providers are getting better at disclosing price and quality information. For example, Aetna has started to put more information online for customers in selected markets. HSA’s have certainly helped that process along.

The challenge is making sure the price information released is relevant to consumers – telling them what an uninsured patient would pay doesn’t mean much if the person has a health insurance plan that would get them a discount – and figuring out the best way to report quality measures (both what those standards are and how they should be calculated).

Transparency is something that a lot of Republicans and Democrats agree on. I hope that all Members of Congress can work together on this issue in order to provide the best possible care for our nation’s families.

2) Earlier this week, I read that the Obama administration is taking steps to prevent increasing domestic energy production, specifically preventing drilling on the OCS. First, will it require passing legislation to put the OCS off-limits or would it just take an executive order? Second, what will the House Republican Caucus do to get the oil flowing?

A: History has shown us that Democrats have not been supportive of lifting the ban on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS), even if it means decreasing our dependence on foreign oil, creating jobs and lowering the price of fuel. It is my hope that Congress and the Administration will work together on this issue to free American oil. Sadly, President Obama’s Administration has recently taken steps in the opposite direction.

President Obama has the ability to issue a new Executive Order locking up the OCS and making it off limits to exploration. And, if he decides not to do that, the Democrat-controlled Congress has enough votes to reinstate the ban without the President’s approval.

House Republicans will continue to fight to decrease our nation’s dependence on foreign oil. We understand that allowing Americans to access our own oil resources will decrease the price of gas and create jobs. We will continue to push forth this effort until the Democrat leadership agrees to consider legislation that will encourage domestic energy exploration.

3) Earlier this week, Tom Harkin said that we need to re-instate the Fairness Doctrine. You’ve shown your opposition to that by submitting the Broadcaster Freedom Act. First, has the Broadcaster Freedom Act received a hearing in committee? Second, if it hasn’t, which is what I expect, will the House Republican Conference be working with the Right Blogosphere and the various Face book networks to pressure Blue Dog Democrats to sign a discharge petition demanding the bill be given an up or down vote?

A: Unfortunately, my bill, the Broadcaster Freedom Act, has not received a hearing. I strongly believe that this legislation is imperative to protecting our nation’s airwaves. Every American cherishes a free and independent press. House Republicans understand that. You can rest assured that we will continue to fight this effort – through every outlet available to us – in order to ensure that this freedom is not stripped away.

4) Activists know that you’ve submitted an alternative to the stimulus bill but most people don’t know that. What things will the House Republican Conference do to trumpet the fact that Republicans did offer an alternative? Will part of this effort highlight the main things in your alternative?

A: House Republicans were very active in speaking out against the Democrats’ so-called stimulus bill. However, House Republicans do not believe we should do nothing. We understand that the American people are hurting and that the economy is in a recession. House Republicans also know that we cannot borrow and spend and bail our way back to a growing economy. Americans want to see real solutions that don’t force them and their family to foot the bill, and House Republicans have provided such a solution. The House Republican plan is a taxpayer-friendly solution that will create twice as many jobs as the Democrat plan at half the cost. The House Republican alternative does not include wasteful pork. It’s a plan that our nation’s hardworking families and small businesses need and deserve.

House Republicans will continue taking to the airwaves, newspapers and internet to spread the word about our alternative. We also will be spending a significant amount of time during the District Work Period communicating directly to our constituents about it. If you want to read more about the House Republican alternative, you can find additional information at

Next, let’s talk about some Republican initiatives that might attract support from Blue Dog Democrats.

1) Are there any bills where Republicans are working with Blue Dog Democrats? If there is, let us know what the chances are of getting those bills passed.

A: Republicans have reached out to the Blue Dogs on numerous occasions. Recently, in consideration of the Democrats’ so-called stimulus bill, some Blue Dogs joined Republicans in opposing this massive spending bill. I hope that House Republicans and Blue Dogs can work together to root out wasteful spending in appropriation bills and other legislation. I encourage my friends in the Blue Dog Coalition to exert pressure on Speaker Pelosi and the House Democrat Leadership to enact fiscal discipline on behalf of the American people.

2) When Nancy Pelosi took over as Speaker, she said that the House would use the pay-go system of budgeting. That’s one of the things she hasn’t followed through on. What’s the likelihood of working with Blue Dog Democrats like Collin Peterson, Gene Taylor and Walt Minnick to pass a series of offsetting budget cuts?

A: I hope that House Republicans can work with these key Blue Dog Democrats to pass legislation that makes offsetting budget cuts a top priority. I appreciate all efforts in Congress to fight for responsible spending.

3) Finally, Is it possible to work with Blue Dog Democrats to enact lasting tax cuts for small businesses?

A: House Republicans know what high taxes can do to a small business – especially during this tough economic time when many businesses are struggling to make ends meet. I hope that Blue Dog Democrats will join House Republicans in our efforts to enact lasting tax cuts not only for small businesses, but also for hard-working families and farmers.

I want to thank Chairman Pence for taking the time to answer these questions, especially since they are important to the economic well-being and liberty of our great nation.

These types of communications are important to tell the tale that the formerly mainstream media hasn’t told. For instance, while it’s true that they haven’t given the stimulus bill rave reviews, they haven’t mentioned the fact that House Republicans put an alternative plan together. It’s important that that information is highlighted.

SIDENOTE: I’m hoping that this won’t be the last such interview with the GOP leadership in DC. Check back for more of these interviews.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative

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