Unchallenged Thune stops for ice cream in MitchellWhat does a U.S. senator do on a summer day during a congressional recess when he has no re-election opponent? He stops for a burger and ice cream sundae at Culver’s in Mitchell. That’s what John Thune did Friday while on his way to see some old friends at Hutch’s Café and Lounge in Presho and his parents in Murdo.
By: Seth Tupper, The Daily Republic
What does a U.S. senator do on a summer day during a congressional recess when he has no re-election opponent?
He stops for a burger and ice cream sundae at Culver’s in Mitchell.
That’s what John Thune did Friday while on his way to see some old friends at Hutch’s Café and Lounge in Presho and his parents in Murdo. With no Democrat or minor-party candidate running against him in the Nov. 2 election, he has some unexpected free time on his hands.
That’s not to say he isn’t busy. He’s been appearing at parades and festivals and was in Rapid City recently for business related to Ellsworth Air Force Base. But many other candidates across the country would love to have a schedule loose enough to allow for a solo drive across the state.
While at Culver’s, Thune spoke of the topic of the day in Mitchell: Mike Miller’s apparent signing with the Miami Heat. Thune, who was a basketball standout for Murdo, said Miller will be a good fit for the Heat because Miller is “a team player who can distribute the basketball.” Thune is not sold, however, on the notion that the Heat’s recently acquired “big three” — LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh — will be able to successfully co-exist.
“There’s not enough basketballs to go around,” Thune said of the high-scoring trio, adding that the “knives will come out” in Miami if the three big-name stars don’t produce multiple championships.
Thune is assured of a win in November, when he’ll be the first U.S. senator from South Dakota to appear alone on the ballot since the direct election of senators was ratified in 1913. Since that time, only five senators nationally have been elected with 100 percent of the vote. Thune will become the sixth, because he has no opponent and there will be no space on the ballot for write-in candidates.
On other topics Thursday:
* Thune criticized what he sees as deficiencies in the financial reform legislation that is expected to receive a Senate vote next week.
Thune, a Republican, said the Democrat-backed legislation fails to address the “systemically-risky-too-big-to-fail issue.”
He said a new chapter of bankruptcy law should have been created. Instead, he said, Democrats are using the legislation to expand government. He said the proposed Consumer Financial Protection Agency will have broad power with little congressional oversight, and it will cost $600 million to $1 billion annually, while employing 2,000 to start with.
Furthermore, he said, the legislation fails to address Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the bailed-out mortgage giants that Thune said represent a “$165 billion liability to taxpayers” that is bound to “explode over time.”
“There are a few things in it that are probably good,” Thune said of the legislation, “but there is an awful lot in it that is just more spending, more expansion of government.”
* Thune said the United States gets too much of its oil from offshore sources to abandon offshore drilling in the immediate aftermath of the Gulf of Mexico spill.
He said 30 percent of all the energy used in the country comes from the Gulf, and 80 percent of that is offshore. So, he said, about one-quarter of the entire energy supply is coming from offshore production in the Gulf of Mexico.
“Going forward, until we figure out a way to come up with energy sources other than petroleum-based products, we’ve got to have domestic production,” he said. “Otherwise, we’re going to get it from the Middle East or someplace else.”
Thune said the Gulf spill could become the impetus for a greater push toward alternative energy sources, but he hopes that push will not lead toward the cap-and-trade policies favored by many Democrats.
He also criticized the Obama administration for its “failure and lack of leadership” in rounding up assistance for the clean-up of the Gulf spill.
* Thune deflected a question about whether he’ll run for president in 2012.
“I think it’s really way too early,” he said, to talk about the presidential race.
He added, though, that “you always have to be looking for ways that you can contribute, if you really believe in making a difference and you’re in this for that reason. You look for opportunities to contribute and help the cause.”
* Thune expressed his displeasure at President Obama’s recess appointment of Donald Berwick to be director of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
Thune called Berwick “very far left.”
“He’s going to administer now the 2,700-page health-care reform bill and, because he’s got Medicare and Medicaid under him, almost $1 trillion of spending under the bill,” Thune said. “And he’s been quoted in the past as saying he’s really bad at details.”
“More importantly, he’s a huge fan of the European health-care system, a big fan of single-payer, socialized medicine.”
Thune said the Obama administration used a recess appointment of Berwick to “short-circuit” and “bypass” the congressional process.
“I think one of the reasons is that Democrats in the Senate don’t want to have to vote for this guy,” Thune said.
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