Cawthorn talks business recovery, COVID-19 relief

SHIFTING PRIORITIES: After a “tumultuous” first few weeks in Congress, Rep. Madison Cawthorn told Asheville’s Council of Independent Business Owners that he’s ready to usher economic recovery to the region. Screen capture courtesy of CIBO

Madison Cawthorn admits that his first few weeks in Washington have been “tumultuous.” Three days after being sworn in, Western North Carolina’s congressional representative rallied a crowd supporting former President Donald Trump that subsequently sacked the Capitol; after those riots, the Republican voted twice against certifying the election of Trump’s successor, Democratic President Joe Biden

Now, Cawthorn told the Council of Independent Business Owners at a Jan. 29 virtual breakfast, he’s shifting his priorities as he thinks through the powers and limitations of his new job. The meeting marked one of his first addresses to a local audience since taking office. 

With Democrats in control of the House, Senate and presidency, the country is poised to usher in an era of big government, Cawthorn asserted to the Asheville-based trade group. As a self-described “constitutional conservative,” the representative said his new goal is to divert as much federal spending to the region as possible to get residents back to work. 

“It’s no secret to all of you that so many businesses were attacked and destroyed, by no fault of your own, because of government-mandated shutdowns,” Cawthorn said regarding emergency measures meant to control the spread of COVID-19. “I think that’s tragic. And so I think it’s absolutely appropriate that the federal government has created stimulus programs to help.”

Cawthorn voiced his support for federal Paycheck Protection Program loans available to help small businesses keep employees working during the pandemic. But the accounting and banking costs required to parse through complicated loan forgiveness requirements are too high, he said. Instead, he’s pushing for automatic loan forgiveness for all businesses that have borrowed $150,000 or less. 

Individual stimulus checks should only go to people who are currently unemployed, Cawthorn told CIBO members. He also opposed raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour and increasing collective bargaining power for employees, claiming without citing evidence that the moves would cause most of Asheville’s service jobs to disappear. 

The only way to keep businesses open in the face of the pandemic, he continued, is to reach a “critical mass” of immunity through COVID-19 vaccination programs. Health officials say herd immunity may be achieved when 70%-90% of the population is vaccinated; according to N.C. Department of Health and Human Services data from Jan. 29, only 7.5% of North Carolina residents had gotten their first dose of a two-dose COVID-19 vaccine. 

On Jan. 25, Cawthorn co-sponsored a bill that would prohibit the use of federal funds to establish, implement or enforce any requirement that an individual wear a face covering or be vaccinated. Asked by Xpress what economic and health benefits this bill would have for the people of Western North Carolina, Cawthorn responded that a free capitalist society would create consumer confidence.

“I don’t think [the vaccine] should be required and I think it was rushed,” he said, adding that an economic lens was too narrow a scope to assess the legislation. “I believe it will be very healthy and that [federal vaccine development program] Operation Warp Speed did a great job, but I personally will not be getting a vaccine because of my 98% survival rate. If we start forcing people to get vaccines, we start walking a very dangerous road in the future.” 

When the House reconvenes in early February, Cawthorn said, he hopes to use his role on the Committee of Education and Labor to expand wireless broadband access across the region. He also wants to prevent election fraud by establishing a federal voter identification requirement, eliminating mail-in ballots for anyone not in the military or hospitalized with severe injuries and splitting municipal races onto a separate ballot from state and federal contests. (At least 60 lawsuits filed by the Trump campaign in 2020 failed to prove a single case of voter fraud benefitting Biden.) 

Cawthorn said his support among WNC’s Republican Party leadership had “skyrocketed” since the election; at the same time, he noted, his unfavorability among Democrats had also reached a new high. He did not address his recent censures by multiple important local Republicans, including state Sen. Chuck Edwards and former Henderson County Sheriff George Erwin Jr.

The representative’s  rhetoric will likely change in the coming weeks, Cawthorn told meeting attendees, as he works to bridge the partisan divide. “Whether you’re Republcan or Democrat, whether you’re an independent and you didn’t vote for me or don’t support the actions I’ve taken in Congress so far, that doesn’t matter,” he said. “I’m here to serve you, no matter what.”

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About Molly Horak
Molly is a recent graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and writer for Mountain Xpress. Her work has appeared in the Citizen-Times, News and Observer and Charlotte Observer. Follow me @molly_horak

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21 thoughts on “Cawthorn talks business recovery, COVID-19 relief

  1. Jason Williams

    New research from from a home-schooled college dropout indicates that capitalism will keep you from getting the virus!

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    • G Man

      Since none of that was anywhere in the story, I guess that means you are spreading dangerous misinformation and hate speech.

      I propose that you must be a Russian asset!

      • Jason Williams

        Well “G Man,” the article reports, “On Jan. 25, Cawthorn co-sponsored a bill that would prohibit the use of federal funds to establish, implement or enforce any requirement that an individual wear a face covering or be vaccinated. Asked by Xpress what economic and health benefits this bill would have for the people of Western North Carolina, Cawthorn responded that a free capitalist society would create consumer confidence.”

        And his own website says that he was homeschooled: https://madisoncawthorn.com/about-madison

        And his Wikipedia page states, “Cawthorn attended Patrick Henry College during the fall 2016 semester to study political science, but dropped out after one semester and earning mostly D grades” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Madison_Cawthorn

        But sure, I’m the one spreading misinformation.

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        • bsummers

          Cry harder, libtard. He’s got a “98% survival rate”. That’s better than SS soldiers in any conflict during WWII.

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        • G Man

          @Jason Williams

          You’re entire first post is still BS and you did not contradict one word of my reply.

          Are you really too ignorant to see that or just practicing the popular skew and deflect tactic?

  2. joelharder

    His bill to ban the use of federal funds to implement COVID-19 requirements is short-sighted. Federal funds should be freely available to use to help implement NC state and local regulations. As he said himself, “there are these three letter agencies in Washington that nobody ever heard of that are interfering in our lives.” Cawthorn wants to try and create one example for everyone! Can someone play him the video tape and ask him to respond? I want to know what kind of white lie he’s going to tell us. Tell him that “he’s joined the Party of No” (another favorite line) and play the videotape.

    Cawthorn broke his campaign promise to increase minimum wage to $15/hour. The proposal is 2025! Do you think the cost of living in Asheville is going DOWN? I would challenge him after you show him the language of the bill (CNN Pamela Brown had to read it to him).

    Tell him “the face of healthcare” failed us miserably. That face is useless to get a discount at the Ingles pharmacy.

    No Update for: WNC Infrastructure | WNC Job Growth | PILTH Formula | Marijuana Decriminalization | “Conservative” Environmental Issues | Natural Resources | Climate Change | Healthcare Reform

    Thanks for the update. Let us know how long the breakfast was and if the discussion was open-ended or just specific topics. Much appreciated.

    I am shocked you didn’t get quotes from the attendees! I want to know what they thought.

    • Virginia Daffron

      Hi Joel, I wasn’t the reporter for this story, but the meeting was virtual. All microphones were muted throughout and the chat function was disabled. No way to get comment from the other online attendees. Questions had to be submitted in advance and were asked by the moderator. Our reporter did mention that her impression was that others online appeared satisfied with Cawthorn’s presentation and responses judging from their facial expressions.

    • joelharder

      While Cawthorn’s bill is a short-sighted “blanket” bans on using Federal funds for any COVID 19 regulation, Tillis joined 9 Senators (including Senator Collins) to propose a COVID relief bill, providing needed federal funds.

      https://www.collins.senate.gov/newsroom/group-10-republican-senators-outline-covid-19-relief-compromise-request-meeting-president

      Cawthorn’s vision of “the free market gives consumer confidence” means costs are passed on to business and the consumer. On the other hand, Tillis is one example of an alternative bill where “new money” is being offered to help businesses and consumers implement COVID regulations. We will see if this is the best plan. I want to illustrate the point.

      The bottom line is Cawthorn does not know what he is doing in Congress. The easy way out for a Congressman who is incapable of fulfilling the job is to issue unnecessary bans. The bill language is short and easy for them to understand.

      The bills that offer solutions typically require well-thought out language. He has fallen short in his ability to achieve a result.

  3. theDon

    Cawthorn’s “bill”l to ban federal funds to implement COVID-19 requirements is a joke. Cawthorn has zero chance of introducing, let alone having this “bill” of his passed …being a seditious freshman/ nobody in the minority party in the house. Nancy Pelosi and AOC think -well, know without a doubt- that he’s a complete and total joke too… albeit a bit of a scary one…. being the wannabe little Nazi that he is. Only the rubes and fascists he has completely duped back here in the 11th district don’t think he’s an absolute joke/ clown/ skirt chaser/ poser. Cry now losers :)

  4. Mitch

    From the meeting:
    Cawthorn told meeting attendees, as he works to bridge the partisan divide. “Whether you’re Republcan or Democrat, whether you’re an independent and you didn’t vote for me or don’t support the actions I’ve taken in Congress so far, that doesn’t matter,” he said. “I’m here to serve you, no matter what.”

    The above was also mentioned when he took office & how many times has he looked to divide since then? Hmm maybe this: “He also wants to prevent election fraud by establishing a federal voter identification requirement, eliminating mail-in ballots for anyone not in the military or hospitalized with severe injuries and splitting municipal races onto a separate ballot from state and federal contests.” Now that’s following conservative ideology of staying out of state’s business. Or how about this: “ It’s no secret to all of you that so many businesses were attacked and destroyed, by no fault of your own, because of government-mandated shutdowns,” Cawthorn said regarding emergency measures meant to control the spread of COVID-19. “Attacked & destroyed”? Boy those are some unifying words!

    Hopefully he’ll put action behind his words rather than just talking. We’ll see.

    • Enlightened Enigma

      American cannot allow millions of unrequested voting ballots to be mailed out like 2020. Never again. I know I received 4-6 of the damn things!
      I knew when this tactic was announced that democrackkks would seize the win. Now we have a delusional puppet in a daze…

      • bsummers

        Don’t forget the millions of illegals that voted, the Venezuelan voting machines that flipped millions of Trump votes, and the millions of Trump-voter ballots that were thrown in a ditch.

        Oh wait – those were all debunked (a word that has its origins in Buncombe County – we’re so proud.) Want to try again, Fred “Fisher” Caudle?

        No wonder Trump can’t persuade any lawyers to represent him at his impeachment.
        https://www.vox.com/2021/1/31/22258795/trump-legal-team-disintegrating-ahead-senate-impeachment-trial

        • G Man

          I keep hearing this claim of “debunking” claims of voting abnormalities. Who exactly did this “debunking”?

          The biggest reason for Trump legal team issues is the threats of violence, doxxing, blackballing, re-programming, disbarring, etc. of all of these fine folks who keep speaking of unity.

          • Peter Robbins

            Yeah. It’s so frustrating when your best flakes turn out to be snowflakes.

  5. ohiogurl

    Cawthorn: “The only way to keep businesses open in the face of the pandemic is to reach a “critical mass” of immunity through COVID-19 vaccination programs.” But he, himself, is going to do whatever he can to prevent that from happening. He’s gonna skip being vaccinated, and fight any efforts to protect the rest of us by requiring dudes like him to wear masks. He’s also signed onto legislation that would prevent the CDC from tracking people who’ve received vaccines, so there would be no way of knowing when we’ve reached that critical mass, no way to measure how effective it is, and no way to notify recipients about possible side effects. I don’t care how free the capitalist system is, people will stay home until the pandemic is under control. I am Cawthorn’s constituent, and he is not serving me or the 11th district.

  6. reuben W dejernette

    This fella is such a joke !! Opposed raising min wage…this coming from a person who has never had to put up living expenses from a job held, at the same time !! No fair using daddy’s money or lawsuit funds. Maybe sitting in on several sessions of the education and labor committee will embolden him to blurt out he has received that elusive education requirement he has been missing all this time !! In an interview last weekend he was clueless and revealed just how inadequate he is at current events. He has, on the other hand, revealed how adept and adequate he is at telling stories that just don’t add up or hold water…but those are just him using “Alternative Facts” a euphemism for a LIE !!

  7. Keith Thomson

    Congenital liars who repeatedly unmask themselves should not be trusted.

    Cawthorne repeatedly lies about failing to meet entrance requirements for acceptance to the United States Naval Academy, to claim he was on track towards a virtuous Military career tragically cut short by his accident, though he was rejected before the crash. Failing educational preparation to meet rigorous math, science and reading requirements for entry into a premier Engineering College is not the problem here, it is habitual lying. This self serving fabrication would be a clear violation of the Naval Academy’s Honor Code and the duty of an Officer and a Gentleman in the US Marine Corps. Being a Celebrity Apprentice contestant is a lousy substitute.

  8. Janice Doyle

    Cawthorne is immature and poorly educated. This becomes apparent when his opinions are quoted. His grammar is poor, his logic is nonexistent and certainly not based on research. He is poorly read as is apparent in his
    paraphrasing of Republican garbage. He does not belong in Congress because he doesn’t fit in with his colleagues who will over time chew him up and spit him out. It remains to be seen what he will accomplish for his constituents when he refuses to follow simple rules in entering his workplace. Those who voted for him did themselves a horrific disservice. Don’t expect much from this low level member of Congress who couldn’t even manage to get himself off to a good start. I doubt he’ll recover.

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