WASHINGTON – On Feb. 2, U.S. Rep. Ronnie Shows, who represents Mississippi’s Fourth Congressional District, received a highly sought after appointment to a new congressional committee that encompasses all former Banking Committee issues and several issues removed from the Committee on Commerce.
The newly formed Financial Services Committee will have jurisdiction over the nation’s financial, housing, insurance and securities institutions and affairs.
Last week, the Mississippi Business Journal chatted with the congressman from Bassfield about his recent appointment, the consolidation of financial services, insurance issues and the Federal Reserve.
Mississippi Business Journal: Why was the new committee formed?
Ronnie Shows: The Financial Services Committee was formed to consolidate financial matters that had been dispersed over the years. Some time ago, the Commerce Committee took jurisdiction over certain financial matters from the former Banking Committee. The consolidation of all financial services into one committee greatly enhances and streamlines attention to various economic and financial issues.
MBJ: What’s in it for Mississippi?
RS: The Financial Services Committee offers a great vehicle to advance Mississippi’s economic and business climate. I am honored to have this opportunity. I will work hard to advance Mississippi’s interests.
MBJ: How did the appointment come about?
RS: I felt like Mississippians needed a strong voice in financial matters. We are well served in various areas such as agriculture, commerce and appropriations. Gene Taylor is on the Transportation Committee. I talked to my colleagues and the leadership of Congress about being placed on Financial Services. It was a bit of a long shot, but I convinced them that more rural Americans and smaller metropolitan areas, in the context of the entire nation, needed a voice.
I was fortunate and, I believe, Mississippi businesses and financial institutions will be well served by this appointment.
MBJ: What can the business community expect as a result of the formation of this new committee?
RS: Our businesses and financial institutions can anticipate a more focused look at financial concerns, especially with our economy in flux. Recently, I had lunch with a representative from the Bond Markets Association and shared with him some views I have concerning fair competition across the board between private businesses and government supported entities.
MBJ: You’ve said you’ll focus specifically on issues such as consumer protection, privacy rights, debt relief legislation and the reform of international financial and development institutions. You’ve also mentioned that funding resources for affordable housing will be a priority along with rental vouchers, greater access to home-ownership, homelessness prevention, housing preservation and elderly housing. Is this your agenda, the committee’s, or both?
RS: I have found that many of my colleagues on the committee share my interest in these areas. Affordable housing is essential for our citizens, a strong business climate and our economy. A home is part of the American dream and we have specific issues in Mississippi that I want to advance on the housing front.
One of my goals is to meet regularly with Mississippi’s financial and business community and advance their interests on the committee. We have strong financial institutions in Mississippi that can benefit from continued reform of international policy. Consumer protection and the privacy rights of all Mississippians and Americans must be a focus of this committee as well.
MBJ: What is your take on estate and marriage tax penalties? What about tax breaks for small business owners?
RS: I continue to believe that completely eliminating the estate tax and marriage tax penalty is needed. And, new and stronger deductions for property and equipment must be passed to shore up the strength of our small businesses.
MBJ: What is your opinion of the recent Federal Reserve activity? Do you believe Federal Reserve Chief Alan Greenspan has too much power? If so, will the committee have the authority to initiate changes to the way decisions on the economy are made?
RS: First, Alan Greenspan has been a good watchdog for the American people concerning economic and financial matters. Mr. Greenspan will be appearing before the Financial Services Committee on Feb. 28. This will be my first opportunity to hear his testimony, ask questions and develop a more educated opinion concerning the Federal Reserve Board.
I will be looking to Mississippians for input in this matter as well. I am interested in his detailed opinion concerning debt reduction and taxes. I believe that continuing to lower the national debt will drop interest rates. The federal surplus projections continue to grow and this must result in a tax cut.
Contact MBJ contributing writer Lynne Wilbanks Jeter at firstname.lastname@example.org or (601) 853-3967.