The U.S. should not impose a no-fly zone over Libya, despite mounting violence against opponents of Moammar Gadhafi, U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson said Monday at a gathering on Hilton Head Island.
Wilson, R-West Columbia, said U.S. lawmakers should encourage Libyans to "change the situation" in their country and support civilians fighting to remove Gadhafi, but he said he does not support U.S. military intervention.
Instead, the 63-year-old lawmaker and retired Army National Guard colonel proposed freezing Gadhafi's assets abroad.
"We can put Gadhafi in a situation where he cannot pay the mercenaries -- or gangs -- he's been hiring from across North Africa," Wilson told a crowd of about 140 during the Hilton Head Island First Monday Republican Lunch Group at Aunt Chiladas Easy Street Cafe. "We need to make it very clear that we support the aspirations of the people, but I don't see that there should be a military role by the U.S."
Wilson, who won re-election last year in the state's 2nd District, which includes Beaufort County, also argued that cutting taxes across the board would help small businesses and create jobs.
"We need to be serious about jobs," he said. "I campaigned that 'Joe means jobs,' and I do. I am working with companies across the district to increase opportunities, and they need tax cuts to do it."
When questioned by an attendee about the federal budget debate and a possible government shutdown, Wilson said he voted with other House Republicans for $100 billion in spending cuts.
But he says lawmakers can do better.
"What I want to do is roll back spending to 2006 levels," he said after the luncheon. "It's tough. But we could fund government at those levels in 2006, and we should be able to now."
Hugh O'Kane, 70, a Port Royal Plantation resident who has been attending the lunch group for about eight years, said he is concerned about the size of the federal budget.
"Neither side, Republicans or Democrats, really seem to want to address spending," O'Kane said. "The so-called 'sacred-cows' -- defense spending, Social Security, Medicare -- everything should be on the table. There's going to be discomfort for all citizens."