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U.S. Congressman Randy Neugebauer made a stop in Sweetwater on Thursday morning, May 3, 2012 for a "Coffee with the Congressman" event at JavaJax in downtown Sweetwater.
Through recent redistricting, Congressman Neugebauer represents District 19 of Texas which now covers Nolan County and spans from Lubbock to Abilene.
While Congress is currently in recess, Congressman Neugebauer noted that many important issues are before them and changes have to be made within the country.
Finances and the deficit are one hot topic, as he used the example of America as a single family unit earning $24,000 yet spending $37,000 annually. Congressman Neugebauer stressed that the United States has to learn how to live differently in order not to go bankrupt.
Difficult choices will have to be made and eliminating wasteful spending is just one of the fixable problems that will have to be addressed. Since the economic downturn in 2008 where revenues fell considerably, the congressman stated that expenses must be lowered in order for revenue to rise again and boost the economy.
He hopes that--by painting a realistic picture for voters--open discussions can occur to be able to resolve problems and move forward, rather than mirroring the actions of some European countries and falling into financial turmoil.
A number of national issues were then discussed by Congressman Neugebauer with attendees, such as health care and "Obamacare", the budget, the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), and small business, among others.
In discussing Social Security benefits and Medicare, the congressman noted that reform has to take place to avoid depleted funds. He suggested changing the retiring age--as life expectancies have dramatically increased, and while not a popular idea, co-pays may have to get higher.
Congressman Neugebauer stressed, however, that government should not be in total control of health care, as the "Obamacare" initiative would do. He said he voted against the plan, and when asked about those exempt from the plan, he stated that Congress members have not been exempt.
However, pending the Supreme Court's decision on the health care initiative, Congressman Neugebauer stated that he and his counterparts will take the necessary action.
The budget was also addressed, as one concerned citizen expressed a desire that members of Congress not be paid until a budget is passed. Congressman Neugebauer said that he has spoken with several Republicans about taking a stand on the matter and that he was not in support of the past bailouts and stimulus packages handed out.
In addition, he stated that an easy fix would be to vote in November to change the majority leadership. Harry Reid (D-Nevada) is currently the Senate Majority Leader, but the congressman reiterated for voters to head to the polls, as around twenty Democratic senators are up for re-election in November.
Other upcoming issues in November were discussed, as the congressman was asked who he favored in the Republican "veepstakes". Florida Senator Marco Rubio, Governor Bob McDonnell from Virginia and New Jersey governor Chris Christie were all mentioned, but Congressman Neugebauer did stress that the pick should be a conservative who can not only help the ticket, but be capable of taking the presidential role if necessary.
Appointments and orders by President Barack Obama were also brought up by attendees. The congressman said that some have tried calling out the president on his recess appointments and that his executive orders have to be examined either toward change or following their original intent.
Also with executive orders, Congressman Neugebauer stated that they are hard to overturn if legislation is not being passed.
In other actions taken by the President, the EPA was discussed as one such agency going beyond their power. While again noting that change within the White House will bring some resolution, Congressman Neugebauer said that their laws like the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act must be amended.
While their intentions were well-based, the ideas have gone beyond their original purpose. Battling the issue is difficult, he said, but the EPA currently does not contact Congress.
Also, a discussion on the future of government programs was held on the normality of second and third generations receiving government assistance. He stated that the number of people on Welfare has greatly increased under the Obama administration.
Congressman Neugebauer stated that America was founded not as a nation of "entitlement" but as one of empowerment. He said that there is honor in working and taking care of oneself, as people are not entitled to higher education or work. They are opportunities to be earned, in contrast to what the current "Occupy" movements and concerns with student loans present.
The Production Tax Credit (PTC) was additionally touched on, as many jobs will be lost if it is not extended. The congressman said that over 100 new tax policies will expire if they are not addressed, but the issue should be simplified in order to discuss the matter between both parties.
Briefly presented was international ideas, such as a continued relationship with the United Nations and concerns about partnerships within NATO.
Congressman Neugebauer closed the open forum by expressing his excitement in representing the area. He said that he hopes to keep in contact with constituents and maintain interaction through a number of avenues.