This blog reports events and interesting tidbits from Rensselaer, Indiana and the surrounding area.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Some weekend events 12-12-15 and 12-13-15

The annual Rudolph Run was held on Saturday with the start and finish in Brookside Park. It featured warm weather, some holiday costumes, and an overall first place by a female runner (who has been a star of the girls cross country team at Twin Lakes for the past four years). She was about a minute--maybe two--in front of the first male to finish  The second female to finish is shown below--it was the most in-focus picture I got of the race.

On Sunday afternoon our U.S. Representative in the Congress, Todd Rokita, visited the high school for a town hall. It was had a very small audience, which actually made it worthwhile to attend. After some preliminaries, Congressman Rokita spoke for a few minutes, telling the audience what he has been doing in Congress. He is on the Budget Committee, where he serves as Vice Chair. He pointed out that discretionary spending--the spending that the Congress authorizes each year--is only one third of total spending. The other two thirds (Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, interest on the debt, and various entitlement programs) is automatic, determined by underlying legislation. To change it requires that the underlying legislation be changed. He noted that the amount being paid out on Medicare for those who currently get it exceeds the amount that they paid in by a considerable amount (which is not true of Social Security, where the gap is quite small).

He is Chairman of the Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education and as such had a hand in writing the recently passed and signed bill that, in the words of the Wall Street Journal, "guts No Child Left Behind," the education bill sponsored by the Bush Administration. It should reduce the role of the federal government in education, moving decision making from the federal government to the states and local schools.

He also mentioned some transportation bills he has worked on, including one that should make it easier to separate cars from trucks on busy highways. It was partly based on research done at Purdue University.


Then it was question and answer time. The first question was how we can pay for improving and maintaining our roads. Congressman Rokita said he did not like paying for this from general revenue but preferred the use-tax approach, where those who use the roads pay for them. That has traditionally meant the gas tax, which has not been increased at the federal level since 1996. He leaned toward increasing the gas tax, but realized that electric vehicles get a free ride with it and that the politics of the day make any changes unlikely. He thought it should at least be indexed to inflation.

Asked about Radical Islam, he responded that his focus was mostly on domestic policy issues. He said that we should be very selective in where we intervene militarily. War is very expensive in both blood and money.

He responded to a question of how he viewed the replacement of Speaker of the House John Boehner with Paul Ryan. He said that he had a personal relationship with Ryan from his work with him on the Budget Committee and that there was a generational thing involved. There has been a lot of turnover in the House in the last ten years so many of the Republican congressmen are younger. Boehner seemed more comfortable with older ways of doing things than many of the new congressmen.

A question asked Obamacare's requirement that any employee working more than 30 hours be given benefits, a requirement that has caused many employer, private, public, and not-for-proft, to limit employees to less than 30 hours per week. The Congressman said there were no changes on the horizon. Another question asked about a USDA regulation that requires an appraisal before a mortgage is issued and the Congressman confessed he did not know the details but would have his staff research the question.

There were three or four other questions and the meeting broke up. Channel 18 from Lafayette filmed the entire event but did not seem to have a reporter present. I did not check their newscast on Sunday to see if they used any of the footage, but someone told me I was on their broadcast. (I just checked, and you can see how the TV station reported it.)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for your fantastic blog on Rensselaer. I hope you continue to write it for many years to come!
Is Obamacare prompting employers to limit many workers' hours to less than 30 hours a week, as you say? Studies show that this has not been the case. See, for example, http://money.cnn.com/2015/06/25/news/economy/obamacare-employees-hours/