By SHERRY DIGMON
News Staff Writer
Congressman Bradley Byrne (R-AL) kicked off a series of town hall meetings last week, with the second of 12 being held in Atmore Tuesday, July 31. The meetings are being held during Congress’ August District Work Period.
Known as the “Better Off Now” Town Hall Tour, Byrne is holding public town halls in each of the counties that make up Alabama’s First Congressional District. In these meetings, Byrne is discussing how the American people are better off now thanks to a booming economy, stronger military, and safer communities.
“You may remember two years ago when House Republicans unveiled our ‘Better Way’ agenda that focused on everything from fixing the tax code to growing our military to cutting government regulations. Well, thanks to the help of President Trump, we have successfully implemented much of that agenda, and it is safe to say the American people are ‘Better Off Now,’” Byrne said in a constituent newsletter announcing the tour.
He told the Atmore audience “We are better off, but the national media won’t tell you that.”
Among the topics discussed were the following.
* Jobs and the economy: “There are more jobs available today than people looking for jobs,” Byrne said.
The economy is growing faster now for a couple of reasons.
Unnecessary regulations have been removed. “Business growth is up and up big,” he said.
Secondly, last December a tax reform bill put more money in people’s pockets. Byrne said businesses are investing and giving pay increases. Workers are paying less taxes and seeing more increases in their paychecks.
* Defense: “Today, half of the Navy jets can’t fly,” Byrne said. ” … But we are turning defense around. We’re giving military pay raises. We’re in a much stronger position to defend America. But we’re not done yet. We still have work to do. We’re on the right path.”
* Trade war and tariffs: “A full blown trade war will have a negative result on the American economy,” he said. “The real problem in trade is China. They steal our technology. There’s no problem with China trading in a fair way. They cheat … We are in ongoing discussions with Mexico and Canada … An all-out trade war would be harmful, at least in the short term.”
* The Russia investigation: Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election has been going on since May 2017.
“Russia has achieved what they set out to do – causing discord in our country,” Byrne said. “It would have been the same if Hillary Clinton had won … The investigation is supposed to be about collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia … My suspicion is there isn’t any evidence of that. I think it’s time to wrap it up and move on …
“Putin is not a good guy. He’s a bad guy … They want to sow discord among the American people.”
* Workforce development: “We have a wonderful economy,” Byrne said. “We have more jobs than we have people to fill them.”
He referred to the act recently signed that will impact career / technical schools across the country. President Trump signed the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act, which is a reauthorization of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act, a $1.2 billion program last overhauled by Congress in 2006. The new law allows states to set their own goals for career and technical education programs without the education secretary’s approval, requires them to make progress toward those goals, and makes other changes to federal CTE law.
Although jobs are requiring higher education, Byrne said, that doesn’t necessarily mean college education.
* Healthcare: The discrepancy in reimbursement from the federal government (Medicare and Medicaid) is being addressed, Byrne said. A hospital in Florida receives 20 percent more than a hospital in Alabama. Byrne is working with the Alabama Hospital Association in hopes of changing the formula for reimbursement.
He noted that last year 11 hospitals in Alabama closed.
News photo by Sherry Digmon