Tom Davis

Rep. Tom Davis, chairman of the House Government Reform Committee, was the guest at Wednesday's Monitor breakfast.

Davis, a Virginia Republican, seemed destined for a life in politics.

By seventh grade, he could name every member of the House of Representatives. During high school, Davis started his Washington career by serving four years as a US Senate page.

He went on to graduate from Amherst College and the University of Virginia law school.

Tom Davis was first elected to Congress in 1994. Just four years after he arrived on the Hill, his colleagues elected him chair of the National Republican Congressional Committee, which recruits congressional candidates and helps them raise funds. Davis, well known in Washington for his skills as a political strategist, served in that post until 2002. In January 2003, he became chairman of the House Government Reform Committee.

The panel has conducted recent hearings on steroid use in baseball, the federal response to hurricane Katrina, and governmental efforts to prepare for a possible avian flu epidemic.

Here are excerpts from Davis's remarks at the Monitor breakfast:

On prospects for tax reform being center of President Bush's agenda in 2006 as has been rumored in Washington:

"You are not going to get tax reform in this environment.... I think tax reform is probably something that polls well. The difficulty is translating that into a concrete proposal. Any time you change the tax code, there are winners and losers. And my experience has been that the losers really dig in.... I don't think you are going to be able to get a major tax reform out in this atmosphere."

On the ongoing investigation into the leak of CIA operative Valerie Plame's name:

"I am just very, very disappointed the White House didn't take care of this earlier as soon as it came up, and take it more seriously and do their own investigation and take care of the people that were involved. This is an issue that I think most Americans look at and say, 'Why are these guys playing around with this?'...This is just one where they messed up and they just ought to admit it."

On the state of the Bush administration:

"They have just been sacked. It is third and long. But we can come back. We need to get the right plays called.... I think the congressional Republicans are willing to do the blocking and tackling. But we can't do it alone."

On the state of congressional Democrats:

"They don't have their own agenda. They keep talking about a 'Contract with America' agenda. When you ask them what's coming, they say it's coming. They are trying to work out something. But when you take a look at their caucus, this is nothing more than an organized conspiracy to seize power. This is not a group of people who are of like mind. These are just folks who are not Republicans and have come from different constituencies. They split down the middle on Terri Schiavo. They split down the middle on tax cuts and some of these other issues. They don't really offer an alternative. They are doing a decent job of beating us up right now."

On potential Republican presidential candidates in 2008:

"I think McCain is very viable.... There are so many variables.... Both Giuliani and McCain exert leadership qualities that we don't see in others at this point...I would say a McCain or Giuliani at the head of the ticket would have a much different electoral coalition than you would have with some of these other candidates."

On Major League Baseball's decision to strengthen penalties for steroid use:

"This is just a huge sea change in the way professional athletics and particularly baseball has attacked the [drug] problem."

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