Congressman Jody Hice’s presentation to the Council of the Northeast Georgia Regional Commission last month was not billed as a campaign event, but it would have been hard to have missed the political implications of the message.
In just “two quick years,” Hice told the government and civic leaders from the region, the country has gone from having a “stagnant” economy to one in which there is “great economic news.”
Hice didn’t mention President Donald Trump, the Republican-controlled Congress, or even his own re-election bid.
He spoke for less than eight minutes, didn’t take any questions, and asked for understanding that his schedule required him to leave as soon as he had finished talking.
Hice spoke about midway through the Sept. 20 meeting of the Council of the Northeast Georgia Regional Commission at the Holiday Inn in Athens. The full meeting ran about 70 minutes.
The Council is made up of representatives of the counties and cities that are served by the Commission, which is a regional coordinating agency serving 12 counties and 54 municipal governments in Northeast Georgia.
Oconee County is represented by John Daniell, Board of Commissioners chair, Watkinsville Mayor Dave Shearon, and former Oconee State Bank President Amry Harden.
Jerry Roseberry, Council chair, chaired the meeting and introduced Hice.
Hice On GDP
“There is obviously a lot happening in Washington right now,” Hice said. “A lot of distractions happening in Washington right now. A lot of activity. So let me just sort through all of that as much as possible.
“Two years ago, as you may recall, we were all told that the new economic growth standard was going to be about 2 percent of GDP growth,” Hice said. “We were pretty much told that was the new norm. That we probably would not break through 3 percent again. And that was just two years ago.”
In July, GDP growth was 4.1 percent, Hice said. In August, it was 4.2 percent.
“And now we have economists telling us we are probably going to break through 5 percent,” Hice said. “This is absolutely unprecedented, what’s happened in just two quick years.”
Hice On Unemployment And Wages
The August unemployment rate held at 3.9 percent, Hice said, and wages grew at 2.9 percent.
“That’s the highest rate since 2009,” Hice noted. “A great increase. August also saw 201,000 jobs added--just in August alone. That is over what was anticipated.”
According to the National Federation of Independent Business, small business optimism is at its highest level ever, Hice reported. “And they have been recording this for 45 years.”
“And then lastly the U.S. Census reported the other day, and I think this is fantastic, middle class income rose to record levels last year–middle class income,” Hice said.
“And of course we’re being told that middle class is suffering,” Hice said, “but they are now experiencing the highest income levels in the history of our country.”
“So there is great economic news, which means all of us are sitting on tremendous opportunities,” Hice said. “And certainly challenges. We all recognize challenges, but just from an economic perspective, we are also sitting on phenomenal opportunity.”
Hice said “what I hear all throughout the district is that tax cuts played a huge role, relief of regulations have played a huge role. And the local and private partnership–local public and private partnership--has played a huge role in these type of statistics.”
“So I am excited about where things are,” Hice said. “Excited about where things are going.”
Hice did not indicate what he felt where the challenges. In the past, he has spoken against the budget deficit and the Affordable Care Act.
Hice is considered to be a part of the House Freedom Caucus (which does not have an official membership list) and voted against the $1.3 trillion Consolidated Appropriations Act in March of 2018.
Hice was elected without Democratic opposition in 2016. In 2014, his first campaign, he defeated Democrat Ken Dious, getting 66.5 percent of the vote.
Democrat Tabitha Johnson-Green, a registered nurse from Washington County in the southern part of the 10th Congressional District, is running a low-key campaign against Hice in the Nov. 6 election.
According to Center for the Responsive Politics database, OpenSecrets.org, Hice has raised $624,688 for this election cycle and has $162,636 on hand, based on information available for October.
Johnson-Green has raised $22,768, including $5,280 she gave her own campaign, and has $4,486 on hand.
I was not able to attend the meeting of the Northeast Georgia Regional Commission Council because of a family commitment.
Sarah Bell did attend and recorded the entire meeting.
I edited Bell’s video to include only the comments of Roseberry in introducing Hice and of Hice speaking. That video is below.
(Hice spoke today, Sept. 29, as part of the bus tour for Brian Kemp, which visited Oconee Veterans Park. I will upload and write about that visit shortly.)