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View From the Capitol: Themes emerge from town hall meetingsPosted Friday, April 13, 2012, at 2:47 PM
For the second straight week, I had the pleasure of visiting with citizens attending a series of town halls and meet & greets in counties throughout the Fourth Congressional District. Several themes and concerns were evident at each stop -- America's out-of-control spending and ever-increasing debt, high energy prices, and the negative impact of burdensome government regulations.
No matter where people live in the 4th District, they are concerned about the failure of Washington to get control over the spending that is putting America deeper and deeper in debt. I shared the fact that the House has passed a budget that provides for economic growth, expansion, hiring and investment by small businesses and entrepreneurs. It also contains fundamental reforms to Medicare and Medicaid -- to preserve and protect these vital programs for the next generation of seniors and low-income Americans.
Unfortunately, this common sense effort to stem the flow of red ink and preserve these important programs is stalled in the Senate -- which has not passed a budget in more than three years. It is imperative that the Senate pass a budget to allow both the House and Senate versions to go to conference where the differences can be ironed out. Sadly, the Senate is neglecting its constitutional duty. I continue to call on the Senate to stop playing politics and to do what is required under the United States Constitution.
Energy prices remain a source of pain for 4th District citizens. People want their government to take steps to ease the pain and lower prices at the pump. They are not happy that the Obama Administration had an opportunity to increase the supply of oil by approving construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline to transport oil from Canada, but didn't. Despite environmental impact studies guaranteeing there would be no negative impact on the environment and the promise of 20,000 high paying construction jobs, the President has sided with the environmental extremists and has refused to give the project the "green light." The people of the 4th District are making it clear to me they are not happy with this decision.
They are also not pleased with the de facto moratorium on drilling for oil in the Gulf of Mexico and other coastal areas. While an official moratorium does not exist, the permitting process is so burdensome that it is almost impossible for new drilling to take place. Many critics of this policy say the Administration has replaced a moratorium with a permit-oriam to stand in the way of energy exploration. I agree it is time for our country to be allowed to use the resources with which we have been blessed and reduce our dependency on foreign oil. It's time to become energy independent as a nation!
Another issue that came up during our meetings was the Obama Administration's proposal to increase the cost of TRICARE -- the health care program for Uniformed Service members, retirees and their families. Veterans who have served our country shared their concerns about cost increases. I oppose these increases and will be working through the Armed Services Committee to stop them. Our veterans put their lives on the line and they and their families made tremendous sacrifices to serve our country. We owe them not only the debt of our gratitude, but also the fulfillment of promises such as reasonably priced health care.
It was a pleasure meeting so many of you over the last couple of weeks. My staff and I hope to visit with more of you at town halls during our next in-district work week in May. I look forward to seeing you then and hearing your common sense ideas on how to strengthen our country for our families, our communities, and our future.
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Vicky Hartzler is the U.S. representative for Missouri's 4th Congressional District. She was raised on a farm in Archie, and lives with her husband, Lowell and daughter, Tiffany, on a working farm in Cass County. She is a graduate of both the University of Missouri-Columbia in 1983 and Central Missouri State University (now University of Central Missouri) in 1992, graduating summa cum laude with a B.S. in Education from MU and a M.S. in Education from Central Missouri. For more information, visit http://hartzler.house.gov.
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