Congressman Diane Black held a town hall meeting in Smithville Thursday evening where she addressed a range of issues from national security to the GOP’s vision for America in the House of Representatives called “A Better Way”.
Speaking to a room full of constituents in the first floor courtroom of the courthouse, Congressman Black said the “Better Way” plan addresses specific proposals to reform the tax code, combat poverty, rebuild our economy, replace Obamacare, protect our national security, and restore the Constitutional separation of powers.
“At the first of the year, our leadership asked all of our committees to take a look at the issues that we felt could move us forward. We came up with six different major issues and with each issue we were tasked with bringing a plan together about how we would implement those,” said Congressman Black, who serves on the House Ways and Means Committee and Budget Committee.
“Our tax code is far too large. Its far too complicated. It has not been reformed in 30 years. Its very expensive for families to figure out the tax code and how to file their taxes. We want to modernize our tax code. We want over 90% of the people to be able to fill out their tax returns on a single post card. Back and front. We want to reduce the size of what is in the code for everyone. Our plan is to eliminate the death or estate tax. We also want to take the standard deductions and increase those so you don’t have to gather up all those little slips of paper you have to save in order to show what you can deduct off of your taxes. We want to bring the corporate tax rate down to 20% so we’re competitive with countries all over the world. Right now we’re at about 36% on the federal government side. Some states also have an income tax which increases that tax burden. If we can bring that down to 20% it would make ourselves more competitive around the world,” said Congressman Black.
In addressing poverty, Congressman Black said able bodied people receiving entitlements should be working. “There are two indicators we’re hoping to get people out of poverty. One is education and the other is work. If you don’t have an education you probably don’t have a job. They go hand in hand and our program will address that issue. We now have more percentage of our population in a poverty situation than we did 50 years ago when the so called War on Poverty was launched by President Lyndon Johnson’s administration. Today we measure our fight and success on poverty by how many people get on a program rather than how many people get off a program. We lose human capital when people don’t reach their full potential. When somebody doesn’t know what God given talents they have because they are stuck in poverty, it doesn’t help our country. We’re not having those good minds think about things that are creative and inventive. We’re seeing that in other countries but we are not seeing it here in the United States," she continued.
Reducing federal regulations on businesses is another issue the “Better Way” plan seeks to address. “We want to rebuild our economy. I hear it from businesses all over my district whether its a banking or manufacturing industry. They say the government is in our way. With all of the regulations we can’t do our job because its so over regulated. Cutting those regulations down and letting those businesses do their work will allow the economy to burst wide open,” she said.
“We want to replace Obamacare with something that is more patient friendly. Something that gives you the opportunity to say what you need rather than what the federal government says you need. We want to allow more competition in the marketplace which will bring costs down. And we have a way to take care of those people who have pre-existing conditions who have difficulty getting insurance,” said Congressman Black.
“We further need to restore our Constitutional separation of powers. In Congress when we pass a bill and it gets signed into law, it goes to the administration and they write the regulations without any say from us (Congress). It never comes back to us for a discussion or vote. Here we have an administration (President Obama) that’s on steroids with writing all these rules and regulations and when they can’t get something passed in the House of Representatives and Senate, they decide to do it by rules and regulations. A good example of that is coal. They really tried very hard to pass bills in Congress to deal with the coal industry because they want to shut down the coal industry. They were unable to do it. So the President has done it by regulation. What we want to do is take back some of that control and put it back in the House of Representatives where our founding fathers really meant it to be,” added Congressman Black.
On other issues, Congressman Black addressed the need to get smart about our nation’s border security, to stop illegal amnesty, and to combat sanctuary cities. She co-authored the SMART Border Act which requires the Department of Homeland Security to achieve operational control of the border within one year. The Act also mandates that the Department of Defense make 10,000 National Guard available for deployment upon request by border state governors until control is achieved. It further authorizes the Department of Homeland Security to deploy “Smart border technology” (such as seismic detectors and UAV’s) to areas of the border in which operational control has not been achieved.
Congressman Black said she also authored and passed an amendment to this year’s Energy & Water Appropriations Bill defunding sanctuary cities; authored the Stop Dangerous Sanctuary Cities Act which withholds key federal funding streams from cities that fail to enforce immigration laws; and co-sponsored Kate’s Law instituting mandatory minimums for those who re-enter our nation after being deported.
After addressing the audience, Congressman Black talked with constituents about their concerns individually following the meeting.