U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-Merrillville, speaks with residents during a town forum meeting on Friday, January 11, 2013, at the Crown Point library. | Scott R. Brandush~Sun-Times Media
Updated: January 15, 2013 12:32PM
CROWN POINT — U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-Merrillville, spoke with about 80 residents Friday to discuss issues before Congress.
Visclosky told his constituents that he remains on the House Appropriations Committee and is now the ranking Democrat on the Defense Committee. That puts him in a place to be able to be part of the controls on the spending of the $609 billion budget.
According to Visclosky there are ways to cut defense spending without hurting the defense of the country. He said, “There is one penny out of every dollar spent in defense that can be cut.”
He quoted one of the generals that told him to look at how the defense department buys things. “It took seven years to purchase a truck. Not a special truck, just a truck. You could go down Main Street and buy a truck faster that the government.”
Considering there are no more car dealers left on Main Street in Crown Point, that might prove to be a difficult task.
When he was asked, “How much would we save if we did not have troops in Afghanistan?” He answered, “This year if not in Afghanistan we would save $60 billion. With troop withdrawal that amount will go down.”
One-half of all spending in this country is in defense.
Dennis Davis of Hebron was in the audience.
Davis said, “When I was given my Social Security card in 1955 I was told your Social Security number cannot be used for other things. And that the money you put in will not go into the general fund. It is our money it is not a tax. It is my contribution to my Social Security.”
Davis added, “I would feel better if people would recognize that this is a contribution. My employer puts in his contribution for my Social Security retirement because he wants me to be his employee.”
Visclosky answered, “Your contribution is an earned benefit. You earned it. You are entitled to it. That is how it is called an entitlement program. I want to preserve (Social Security). If you took the cap off taking deductions from those earning over $115,000 and they have to keep paying that would help.”
Visclosky also wants Medicare to be able to negotiate
with the drug companies for prices on medicine, just like private healthcare insurance companies are able to do.
He is very upset about some of representatives in Congress who do not want to raise the debt ceiling.
“In 225 years we have never defaulted on U.S. bonds,” said the congressman.
“On many of the budget issues both the House and Senate have agreed, but our leaders would not bring it to the floor,” Visclosky said.
He wants to bring all the troops home from Afghanistan now. He would also like to re-enact the Brady Bill eliminating assault weapons and large ammunition clips.
Neither was ever challenged in the Supreme Court.
Visclosky is a co-sponsor of the Voter Empowerment Act. He said, “Indiana is fairly regressive in voting and registration system. We ought to encourage participation. If you don’t vote you may get the system you deserve.”
The Voter Empowerment Act would make use of the latest technology to automatically and permanently enroll all consenting eligible voters, update changes in address or name, and include built-in fail-safe measures to correct problems and protect personal privacy. The Act would ensure that no voter is turned away from the polls on Election Day by allowing same-day registration, which already exists in 10 states.
Compared to some of Visclosky’s town hall meetings in the past, this was a peaceful group of people.