Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Conversation with My Representative

It was a wonderful opportunity today to go to Neoga for Rep. Shimkus’ District traveling help desk. He ended up not making an appearance, but his district director was quite courteous and knowledgable. She’s been with him for 20 years. 

The majority of the time was occupied with questions and concerns about the Obamacare repeal and replace efforts in Congress. It seems that any answers from Shimkus on this are going to be highly vague. She offered these proposals: mandating people to go to a primary care physician, block grants to states for Medicaid, and high risk pools for pre-existing conditions. 

The array of voices was both conservative, liberal, young and old. I believe by the end of a roundtable on this issue the constituents felt fixing the law seemed a much preferable first line approach. The district director didn’t really respond to this. I asked specifically about taxes being part of any plan to make up the difference between the current law and any replacement. Again, she said it was too soon to really know the shape of the plan.
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All of the constituents expressed dismay and frustration that after 7 years the GOP had no plan ready to go. Excuses ranged from re-districting, to GOP having offered up plans, and to Harry Reid blocking proposals in the Senate. None of these seemed to pass the smell test with me.

I asked specifically about Shimkus’ position on Sanctuary Cities and the GOP-Trump proposal to deny federal funding to these cities and in some cases states. I cited South Dakota v. Dole from 1987, a 7-2 conservative decision that used states’ rights to make this sort of federal government coercion unconstitutional. She felt that Shimkus would side with denying funds to Sanctuary Cities, but that she would bring up this states’ rights concern.
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Also, we discussed Medicare and Social Security. She stated his position as follows: he will not support changing eligibility age for those currently in the system. That being said, she seemed to suggest that Shimkus strongly supported increasing income caps, as these haven’t risen for decades. There’s no reason why someone like Trump or Warren Buffett shouldn’t be paying more into the Social Security and Medicare system. 
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Lastly, I brought up food insecurity in the district, citing Cumberland County’s statistics to push Shimkus to support expanding food stamps. I offered up that for every $1 spent on food stamps by the federal government $1.76 is generated in economic output. It pays for itself and helps protect families and children. The answer was to point people toward food pantries, which I countered that many times a transportation barrier exists for these families.


I’d suggest to anyone to go to these events with an open mind and listen to what is said by others and by the representative and/or their office staff. This was an amazing opportunity to begin a dialogue and learn more about where Shimkus actually stands on some key issues.

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