Rep. Dean Heller, R-Nev., told some 70 members of Carson City's Rotary Club Tuesday he has voted against all the stimulus projects, including the Cash for Clunkers program, because they will run up the national debt but won't work.
"The more government gets involved in our economy, the more the free market struggles," he said.
But one member of the group at the Carson Nugget took offense when Heller asked how many in the room had taken advantage of Cash for Clunkers. A man raised his hand, prompting Heller to say: "Congratulations. Everybody else in the room paid for your car."
The man headed for the door, telling Heller: "I have better things to do than be insulted by a man who hasn't learned anything. I'll never vote for you again."
Heller said the comment wasn't intended as an insult, but was aimed at the program he says is an improper use of government money.
He asked the audience what's next, cash for flat-screen TVs?
"I know I embarrassed someone and I apologize for that, but I don't think everybody has a right to own a new car."
Heller said he would do four things to "turn this economy around on a dime" - cut the payroll tax in half, eliminate the capital gains tax and estate tax, and dramatically lower the corporate income tax.
Heller said while all the debate in Washington for the past few weeks has been over health care, what he hears most from Nevadans is that they need jobs. At more than 12 percent, Nevada's unemployment is among the nation's highest.
Heller said he supports health care reform but that the plan must include tort reform if it is to make any progress in controlling costs. He also said any public health care program should be capped at the estimated number of uninsured in any state.
"Pre-existing conditions should not be an impediment to getting coverage," he said.
He said barriers preventing health insurance companies from competing across state lines should be removed to increase competition and help lower costs.
"You can go anywhere and get your car insurance," he said. "Any health care reform should include that."
Heller also said he supports removing barriers to reimportation of pharmaceuticals and to the laws preventing importation of drugs produced by other industrialized nations.
"Our pharmaceutical costs are sky high compared to other industrialized nations," he said.