Congressman Baron Hill gives progress report

Cathy May, Contributing Writer

Congressman Baron Hill was introduced by Ripley County Economic Director Brad Buening Monday, July 2, where the congressman gave a six month progress report entitled, “New Directions for America”.

The congressman said after the election the mood of the country was all about change. That’s something he and other fellow congressman have worked on. He outlined five areas they have focused on and gave an overview of what has been done so far.

They include:

• Strengthen the Military. Congress has enacted remaining 9/11 Commission recommendation, while he says the present administration opposes this in its current form. The president vetoed the original versions of the FY 2007 Supplemental containing real benchmarks for Iraqis to take over their own country and send our troops home and Congressman Hill says President Bush has threatened to veto the Defense Authorization bill that includes a pay raise for the US troops.

• Restore Accountability. A Congressional Ethics Reform package was enacted that includes banning gifts and travel from lobbyists. This measure required no presidential signature. Baron Hill’s bill to establish an independent ethics commission made up of former members of the Congress was passed. He says he strongly opposes the method in place where congress investigated its own. Another measure to restore accountability has been taken through the Fiscal Honesty and Accountability Act, which introduced the “Pay-As-You-Go” rules law. Hill explained this is no different than running a household, if you’re going to spend the money, you’ve got to find a way to pay for it. He says the nation’s deficit is $9 trillion right now and that has to stop.

• Achieve Energy Independence. Congressman Hill noted that last year big oil companies got a big tax break. The president has threatened to veto the efforts of Congress to repeal subsidies to big oil companies and invest in renewable fuels. The congressman also expounded on the gasoline price gouging he feels is a real threat. He said he’s noticed that prices vary in a short stretch of road as much as 20 cents per gallon. Congress also wants to prevent price-fixing by OPEC and major oil companies. The congressman’s bill would enhance tax cuts for manufacturers of hybrid cars. “They’re expensive to buy and expensive to make,” he noted, adding he felt money would be well spent by making these vehicles more affordable to everyone.

• Grow Our Economy. The president vetoed efforts to expand tax credits for small businesses on May 1. Congress has an innovation agenda to create new technology and more science and math teachers. Congressman Hill noted that after serving on the science committee he realized we have a real problem with the number of math and science teachers.

• Caring for our children and families. In the last category that the congressman spoke about he noted that the president has threatened to veto the Medicare price negotiation to lower costs for senior citizens and opposes cutting interest rates on student loans. The minimum wage was raised for the first time in 10 years.

Congressman Hill noted that he feels its time for politicians to become bi-partisan and work together for the good of the American people. He said there are some big issues facing our nation and working together will be the only way to get them resolved. Right now, he says that is not the feeling on Capitol Hill, making the wheels spin slowly.

Congressman Baron Hill gave an presentation on New Directions for America: Six Month Progress Report, in Versailles at the Tyson United Methodist Church Fellowship Hall on Monday, July 2. He said Congress had convened for the week and he was glad to be able to share what they had been getting done in Congress with constituents.