Fort Report: You Look a Bit Thinner
No matter how busy the calendar in Washington, or how tense the political climate, it is a summer tradition for representatives to spend time back in the district listening to constituents. This past week, I had many important conversations during community town hall meetings in Bellevue, Lincoln, Blair, Fremont, David City, Columbus, and Norfolk.
Here is the positive news. From innovative whole person care clinics to ag tech startups, to farm-to-table restaurants and breweries, local entrepreneurial momentum has picked up. Economic activity is rising. So are wages. Tax cuts and deregulation have helped. Nebraska remains one of the happiest places to live.
Here’s where work needs to be done. What is clear: Many people are very anxious about our country, some heatedly so. The First Congressional District is very diverse. From the issues of how trade will affect the Nebraska ag sector to investigations into Russian collusion, from the importance of Social Security and Medicare to our growing national debt, a wide range of perspectives formed the discussion.
This is not exhaustive, but here are some quotes that summarize the general points made at the meetings.
“You’ve failed in your duty to checks and balances. Speaker, Senate, House all failed to do their duty.”
“Read about Russian’s hacking our electrical grid, airport guidance, elections. I’m concerned things aren’t getting done to protect us.”
“Thanks for taking these difficult questions, it means you care.”
“The news makes me nervous. Who’s really in charge of the news?”
“How confident are you that President Trump is being truthful about collusion?”
“I’m a farmer, get government out of my business.”
“At what point should Congress step in during the Mueller investigation?”
“You need to educate people more about reviewing their Medicare prescription drugs plans every year.”
“Young people have no idea what Medicare is. They think Medicare is free. Not true!”
“I’m upset when Medicare is referred to as an entitlement program.”
“How can you justify your bi-partisan bill for wildlife when we’re flooding along the Missouri River? What are you going to do to help? We're retired but can’t endure constant flooding. We lost 28 acres to flooding.”
“No border? Try living without a front door on your home.”
“If we lose the 2nd Amendment, we’re done. We’d have no way to protect ourselves.”
“Did you read and understand the Omnibus Spending Bill? Why do we do it that way?”
“With respect to the Chinese stealing intellectual property, do they steal from other countries too?”
“When are we getting away from the Russian investigation? Move on and spend time on it when all these other things addressed.”
“Everyone should read the history of how the Declaration of Independence came about.”
“The health care issue is unfair to farmers…especially when young people have to leave the farm to secure health care.”
“How do you feel about the Wall?”
"If Supreme Court nominee Kavanaugh is confirmed, will it really strongly affect and shape our country?”
"What do you see as a reasonable immigration plan?”
Again, this is just a sampling of what was said. In a time when many officials have stopped these types of meetings due to security concerns and the hyper-volatility, I believe it is important that we hold dear the essential Nebraska value of civil discourse.
I have to say that the first person who spoke said something quite interesting: “You look different. A bit thinner.”