RI Powerplayer: U.S. Senator Jack Reed
Tuesday, March 19, 2013
1.) For the past 16 years, you’ve represented Rhode Island in the U.S. Senate. What do you believe are your biggest accomplishments both for the state and for the country during this time?
I’ll let others be the judge of that. We live in a great state, the challenge each day is to keep striving forward and prevent the progress we’ve made from being rolled back. I took tough votes to help balance the budget and create record surpluses under President Clinton. And then I opposed the unfunded Bush tax cuts for the rich and special interest giveaways that helped lead to record deficits. But I was on the losing end of that debate, and we’ve seen what those policies have cost our economy. So you have to be ever vigilant.
One of the things I am most proud of is my work on Wall Street reform. We helped strengthen financial oversight and set up a new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to crack down on deceptive practices like hidden fees and predatory lending. The CFPB is there to help families from getting scammed. We also established an independent Office of Financial Research, to analyze risk throughout the financial system. This should give financial regulators the data and analytical power they need to understand the factors that threaten our financial system, provide early warnings, and allow regulators to act on this information. And when taxpayers were forced to invest in banks to save the economy from total collapse, I wrote the law ensuring they would share in the rewards when the banks recovered. As a result, an additional $9 billion and counting was returned to taxpayers on top of the loans.
I also voted against the war in Iraq, which, at the time, was not a popular stance to take. But I believed it was the right thing to do and I have worked hard every day since to ensure we have a national security strategy that keeps the American people safe and is worthy of the sacrifice our troops are making.
So, whether it is economic expansion or Wall Street reform or national security – all of these things can be reversed if we aren’t vigilant. The people I most admire don’t rest on laurels – they strengthen foundations and help others build on them. I strive to be that way and I know my work isn’t done.
2.) Recent polls indicate that you have one of the highest approval ratings of any politician from Rhode Island. At a time when many Americans do not have a favorable view of their Congressional leaders, why do you believe this is the case?
People are understandably frustrated by the gridlock in Congress. They want their representatives to work hard and work together to try to solve our nation’s problems. That is what I try to do.
3.) You were recently awarded with the Navy’s Distinguished Public Service Award, the highest honor the Navy can give to a civilian that is not in its service. Talk about what this award means to you and your efforts for the men and women in the armed forces.
That was a real honor, especially for a West Point grad. My father served in the Navy during World War II. Like many of his generation, he didn’t talk a lot about his service, but both he and my mother were enduring examples of good people who worked hard, asked for very little, and gave so much.
We all owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to those who serve and I will continue doing everything I can to support our soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines and their families. We need to ensure they have the resources they need to carry out their mission and come home safe. I also salute all the outstanding civilian workers in Rhode Island’s defense industry who play a critical role in equipping our forces. The cutting edge work at places like Naval Station Newport, the Naval Undersea Warfare Center, and the Naval War College are critical to our security. I think I share this award with all the Rhode Island workers who make these places so successful and allow the Navy to develop and build the next generation of ships and subs.
4.) Take us through a day in your life.
Well, I have a road race coming up I am supposed to be training for so I should get up early and get in a run each morning, but my schedule doesn’t always allow for that. Plus, I got some good exercise marching in all the St. Patrick’s Day parades this weekend. So I’ll start the day driving up from Jamestown to my office in Cranston and do some work there. At around 9 a.m. I’m joining folks from the Rhode Island Blood Center, Alex and Ani, and Teas and Javas for a blood drive. Then I’m helping Meals on Wheels deliver food to local seniors. I have a few more meetings back at the office, then I’ll catch a Southwest flight to BWI and head into my Washington office. I have a few more meetings there with Rhode Islanders who are visiting Washington and any votes the Senate has scheduled. Then I’ll pick up my daughter from her after-school program and we’ll go home and make dinner and usually read a couple books. Then it’s off to bed so I can get up early and try to get that run in the next day.
5.) Tell us something nobody knows about you.
I can name all of the Backyardigans.
Role Model: My mom and dad, Mary and Joe Reed
Favorite Restaurant: Impossible to choose just one. Rhode Island has the best food and restaurants in the country. We’re a culinary destination.
Favorite Part of Living/Working in Rhode Island: The people.
Best Book You've Read in the Last Year: The Second Nuclear Age: Strategy, Danger, and the New Power Politics by Paul Bracken.
Advice for the Next Jack Reed: Always fight for the little guy, because you are the little guy.
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