U.S. Rep. Joe Barton, R-Arlington, conducted a town hall in Corsicana Tuesday before a lively and modest audience of about 30 residents.
The topics ranged from personal issues with the federal government — lack of owed benefits or benefit reductions — to the bigger issues of the federal budget and the new healthcare laws.
Barton said that both the senate and the house have passed budget proposals, but he doesn’t expect to see a compromise between them.
Instead, he predicts another continuing resolution which would keep spending at its current level, along with the $85 billion in sequestration that recently went into effect.
The sequestration money is actual cuts in spending, he said.
“That’s an honest-to-gosh, Corsicana, Texas, reduction in spending,” he said.
He pointed to the 15 percent of the budget that’s Social Security, and said he expects to see changes in those benefits, particularly for people under the age of 50, who should expect to have to work longer and will see changes in the way the cost of living adjustments are done by the time they begin to receive full benefits. People who are over 50 and those who have already begun taking Social Security shouldn’t see changes.
He also talked about the Healthcare for America law, also known as Obamacare, which requires everyone to get health insurance.
Barton predicted that more companies will stop providing insurance to employees, and since Texas refuses to set up an exchange for insurance plans, that more people will get caught in the chaos. However, he said it will take effect.
“The president won the election and the Senate is in the Democratic column, so it can’t be repealed,” he said.
The solution for Republicans, who have since taken over the House, was to underfund the law by $2 trillion, he said.
“Those of us against it are just going to say it’s not going to work and we’re not going to pay for it,” Barton said.
The congressman said he would support some form of immigration reform, although he didn’t agree with allowing people who came here illegally as adults to become citizens. Instead, he proposed a legal residency status for those adults.
Although Barton predicted congressional gridlock on the budget and a variety of other issues, he said he thinks this congress will come out with some kind of compromise on illegal immigration.
Barton was also asked about the state of the Republican party, which has a reputation as being white and angry, which doesn’t win elections. Both parties are made up of volunteers and both need better organization, he said.
“I’d tend to agree that the Republicans have not been good about messaging our message,” Barton said. He added that the party has a better grasp of the big picture issues and has stood firm on the financial decisions, such as sequestration.
As regards same-sex marriage, Barton said he voted his conscience when he supported the Defense of Marriage Act.
“Marriage is between a man and a woman. I don’t know how politically correct that is, but I’m a practicing Christian and a Methodist and that’s how I’ll vote,” he said.
Janet Jacobs may be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Want to “sound off” to this article? E-mail: Soundoff@corsicanadailysun.com