- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 14, 2014

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn says he thinks South Carolina is not going to improve until voters stop choosing Republicans.

The Democrat said Wednesday that Republican leadership in the state has put people in poorer health because of decisions like the refusal to accept federal money to expand Medicaid. Clyburn says people drive on poorer roads because Republicans won’t support greater spending on infrastructure.

Clyburn has been in the U.S. House since 1993, and is the only Democrat from South Carolina in Congress. The 73-year-old from Columbia is in the midst of another campaign to recapture the seat.

Clyburn met with reporters to talk about several issues and problems the state faces.

He said Republican mismanagement led to a hacker taking the personal information of millions of South Carolina taxpayers, including himself, in 2012. He repeated a theme of his recently released memoir, where he blames people who “think small” about only their own personal benefit or the benefit of a small constituency instead of the greater public good.

“What we face today is this state is being run by small thinkers,” Clyburn said.

Here are four other things Clyburn addressed Wednesday.

WHAT CAN DEMOCRATS DO?

Clyburn thinks history is a pendulum, and things will swing back to the Democrats in time. Clyburn, who was arrested several times during protests demanding equal treatment for blacks during the civil rights era, thinks desegregation was the most recent high point for his views and started that pendulum swinging back toward conservatives.

“It’s when that pendulum stops moving that we have a problem,” Clyburn said.

Clyburn thinks current state Democratic Party chairman Jamie Harrison is doing a good job of finding candidates that can run respectable campaigns, just that he needs more time to counteract Republicans who have skillfully consolidated power in South Carolina.

HIGHWAY FUNDING

Clyburn wants the nation to set up a fund to pay for new highways and infrastructure repairs similar to the South Carolina Infrastructure Bank, which allows the state to pool hundreds of millions of dollars and borrow against it for big road projects.

Clyburn also thinks investors in the stock market should pay to improve the country’s roads, bridges, airports and other infrastructure. He said he suggested a 1.5 percent fee on every stock transaction as part of the 2008 bill that helped out banks that were nearing collapse. He said he still supports that idea.

SOUTH CAROLINA STATE UNIVERSITY

Clyburn and his wife are proud graduates of South Carolina State University, the only historically black college in the state. Clyburn said the school’s leaders are to blame for part of its financial struggles, but he said the state also hasn’t done its part to give the school enough support.

Clyburn was a big supporter of Andrew Hugine, who was ousted by the school’s trustees in 2007. Clyburn said Hugine has shown he is a talented university administrator with his success at Alabama A&M; University. Clyburn hopes new president Thomas Elzey can turn things around, but said years of cuts to the school’s budget have done damage.

“It’s a sterling school. It is shameful what they have done to it,” Clyburn said. “If you control the purse strings of an institution, you can control its outcome.”

MARINE HONORED

Clyburn also presented a Congressional Gold Medal to a Columbia man who served a unit that helped integrate the U.S. Marines.

William Ramseur was a member of the Montford Point Marines, who became the first black members of the Corps in the 1940s.

“Part of what we ought to be about is righting wrongs,” Clyburn said to Ramseur as several of his family members watched. “We ought to honor those people who helped us where we got today.”

Copyright © 2016 The Washington Times, LLC.

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