Q&A Session Focuses on Healthcare and Compromise
Sixth District U.S. Congressman Sam Graves (R-Tarkio) visited the soon-to-be-opened Brickhouse Bar and Grill in Brookfield while on his tour through the District this month. While at this event, Rep. Graves talked about healthcare, spending and cooperation in Congress.
“I am spending as much time hitting as many of my 36 counties as possible while on our August work break, said Graves. He then went immediately into the passing of the Farm Bill. “We are working on the Farm Bill. The House took food stamps out of the Farm Bill, while the Senate did not. The bill has things set where 80 percent of the money goes to nutrition, and only 20 percent goes to agriculture. Urban lawmakers wanted to take all of the cuts out of the agriculture section instead of splitting the cuts with nutrition. Since there was no cooperation, we pulled the nutrition funds, and it passed. We will negotiate with the Senate, and agriculture will take a bigger part of the finding than in the past.”
Graves noted that he feels the Farm Bill will be passed by the September 30 deadline that also marks the end of the current fiscal year.
Rep. Graves then talked about the passing of a budget by the Senate for the first time in five years.
“The House is currently passing appropriations bills, and are halfway done now,” said Graves. “The Senate passed a budget for the first time in five years.” Graves said that he blames Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid for the Senate not passing a budget.
“I blame Sen. Reid for not wanting spending parameters,” said Graves. “This is a big part of the short term resolutions that have harmed the nation in the past couple of years. I am hoping to have this play out by the end of the fiscal year.”
Graves then moved on to his role on the Small Business Committee.
“The Small Business Committee is looking at the effects that the government has on them,” said Congressman Graves. “The business owners that come to the committee are waiting and seeng due to the healthcare reform laws and the uncertainty that is there.”
Graves continued: “We are working to lower corporate tax rates, as the U.S. has the highest taxes in the world. I am hearing how hard our small businesses are being hit.”
Congressman Graves also talked about regulatory reform, and the numbers of regulations that business owners have to face. “We are also working on regulatory reform,” said Graves. “There were 3800 new regulations that were out in 2012, which is raising the costs on businesses.”
But Graves also notes some actions that the House had taken to combat this. “We passed the Reigns Act, which forces these types of things to go through Congress,” said Graves. “We also worked to make citizen comments easier by allowing them to be made through our websites.”
Missouri Sixth District Rep. Tim Remole was also in attendance and echoed hearing the same concern in the Legislature.
“There is very little, to no confidence in the federal government right now,” said Remole.
Graves responded that he is hopeful that changes can be made. “One of the least things we can do is push back the healthcare mandate on small businesses,” said Graves. “Under the healthcare law, there is no way that the deadlines will be met on the healthcare exchanges.”
Graves continued: “Everyone’s frustrated with this process. This is one of the areas where there is uncertainty, along with taxes and regulatory. If the federal government could just get out of the way and let businesses do what they do: create jobs.”
Remole also reported that some businesses were already planning to downsize to 48 full time employees to avoid the healthcare law. The current extension goes into January.
Through a number of questions about the Affordable Care Act, Rep. Graves repeatedly stated that he felt that the Obama Administration and the Department of Health and Human Services would not be able to meet their deadlines in implementing the changes that Congress passed when the legislation went through.