BALLINGER– The unviability of the Affordable Care Act, the need for a Medicaid and Social Security reform, and the much required changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, were some of U.S. Representative Mike Conaway’s talking points during his legislative update, held Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at the Ballinger City Hall.
Before a packed hall Conaway said that debt ceiling increase was the last big item between now and the election “right or wrong is done, the only other thing left before the election is the spending bill, the Appropriations Bill for Fiscal Year 2015 starting October 1,” he said.
The congressman said that at a billion less than spent in 2009, the Appropriations Bill has a very significant reduction from the high water mark for the current administration.
“Now there is no excuse for legislators for getting their work done before September 30, so we won’t have another government shutdown over an argument because we can’t agree on how much we can spend,” Conaway said.
He added that some of the programs in need of a reform are Medicaid and Social Security, which will be running out of financial resources in 2024 and 2031 respectively.
“We have been postponing this because it’s a long way until 2024, but the changes will be draconian… I wish I had a better story to tell you.”
Regarding executive orders that the federal government has been issuing, Conaway considered that as constitutional overreach.
“It’s about the institution of the legislative body and he (Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid) should be as offended as we are, but he is not, there are law suits in the process,” Conaway remarked.
Republicans in the House, he said, tried to defund the Affordable Care Act by reducing the IRS spending by $526 million “we couldn’t specifically earmark that to not implement the cost of the Affordable Care Act, but if you give the IRS less money to spend then they got to pick and choose what they spend.”
Conaway explained that the legislature has faced three “must-pass” bills in a row, and they have passed with strong bi-partisan support. Those bills, he said are the total spending budget that passed back in December, the Appropriations Bill and the Farm Bill.
On the Food Stamp program, Conaway said that if he gets re-elected there’s a good chance that he can be the next Chairman of the Agricultural Committee in the House, which has supervisory oversight over the Food Stamp program.
“We have not held one hearing in the last five years over the Food Stamp program… What I intend to do if I become chairman of that committee is hold those oversight hearings, in 2015 and 2016, and show the American people what’s working and what is not working.”
He added that when 10 percent of the Food Stamps recipients are able bodied adults, under 50 and with no dependents, the program is in need of a deep reform. Conaway also said that according to a study, people on welfare is making up to $16 an hour, and by getting a job or going just $1 above the poverty level they would loose all those benefits.
“We need to find a way to compensate and go through different shades of gray rather than having a black and white program.”