Kyle Wingfield

Political commentary and opinion from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's conservative blogger

Opinion: Westmoreland talks about Trump's budget and his own future

As a member of Congress, Lynn Westmoreland was never known for being shy. It appears leaving Washington has not changed that.

In wide-ranging remarks Thursday at an event hosted by the Georgia Public Policy Foundation , Westmoreland defended the cuts in President Trump's budget, predicted the House GOP health-care bill would not pass, and called on citizens to get more involved in government.

"This budget, people are saying, is very cruel. It's not cruel," Westmoreland said. "It's doing the things that need to be done."

He compared the overgrowth of the federal government to a wound, and acknowledged that "getting the wound cleaned out is the most painful part."

But, he said, "Until you clean something out, it can't start to heal. ... If you put a Band-Aid on something that hasn't been cleaned out, it's going to get gangrene."

Obamacare is one area in which Westmoreland and other Republicans believe the wound has only gotten deeper, but he sounded skeptical about the fate of the Hosue GOP plan: "I don't think it'll get done." He did not offer any predictions on what would happen next, but he did indicate the window of opportunity for health care as well as other issues will close sooner than some might think:

"If they don't really get this stuff done by July, and they go on their (summer) break, it's back into campaign mode" after that, he said. "So you really only have about seven months to get anything done."

Westmoreland focused most of his remarks on the problem of intrusive government in broader terms. He likened the framework of government set by the Founders to a big fence around a large area in which individuals could move about freely.

"As long as you lived within those very generous borders, you weren't going to have any problem," he said. "You were going to have freedom. What has happened over the years is government has exploded, and those walls are getting closer and closer and closer. ... Right now, we have all been pushed so tight (together) that we're not getting along. And the reason we're getting pushed so tight is because of the growth of government" from local zoning laws to state taxes and federal regulations.

That sentiment is similar to something Evan McMullin said during last year's campaign. I think there's something to it; it's the kind of argument for limited government that might persuade even some of our liberal friends as they watch what a figure they detest like Trump can do with the large federal apparatus they have spent decades building.

Is it the kind of argument a certain someone might make while running for governor of Georgia next year? Westmoreland is often mentioned as a potential candidate . On Thursday, he said he was still considering the question, but he indicated he may reach a decision within the next week or two.

Other sources have led me to believe Westmoreland will not be running. During his remarks, he referred to "play(ing) on the outside" to help promote the conservative cause and engagement.

"Government has not taken our freedoms away," he said. "We've given our freedoms up. ... The people have taken themselves out of the equation when only 50 percent of the people vote."

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About the Author

Kyle Wingfield joined the AJC in 2009. He is a native of Dalton and a graduate of the University of Georgia.