Our member of the U.S. House of Representatives held a town hall meeting in Coushatta on Tuesday. Congressman Mike Johnson invited local elected officials and community leaders, as well as the general public, to meet with him at the Red River Parish Library.
Johnson began with an overview of the 115th Congress and with it the accomplishments and what work remains to be done. Among those cited were tax reform, the economy and job growth, regulatory reform and a rebuilding of the U.S. military. Johnson said the changes mean more jobs available because business is feeling the freedom from many regulations being erased and from lower taxes. He said that is leading to business growth.
Concerning the military, Johnson said, “Our armed forces were almost in a crisis because of low financing. Now there has been the largest pay raise for our troops in a decade. And there has been funding provided for new military equipment. We are the most powerful fighting force on the planet.” He said the U.S. is keeping terrorists and tyrants at bay.
Of interest to Louisiana is an increase in energy resources. “Our (Louisiana’s) economy services all of this,” he added. But Johnson said the state is falling behind our neighbors. He added, “Each state has to be ready to take advantage and Louisiana is not doing as well as our neighboring state. We need to adjust our government or we cannot take advantage of opportunities.” Looking to the statewide Governor and Legislature elections in the fall of 2019, Johnston added, “We need to change or we will get left behind.”
The Congressman took several questions from members of the audience. They concerned the national discourse and the divisive language that is dividing the country. Johnson answered he is concerned “because a generation that does not understand why America is great. She is great because she is good. People do not know about our country’s founding, that our rights came from God, not from a dictator, king or other source.” Johnson said, “I am optimistic we can turn the discourse around.”
A member of the audience asked about the proposed border wall and immigration reform. Johnson said the Judiciary Committee, of which he is a member, worked for a year carefully drafting a comprehensive bill. It failed to pass. Johnson said immigration is a problem because it effects many areas of the economy including jobs: the current opioid crisis and illegal drugs coming in from Mexico; the infiltration of the U.S. by radicalized terrorists.
Johnson said, “The wall is expensive for the whole border. In some areas there are far more effective and less expensive ways to do it.” He mentioned the use of drones to patrol some area where Johnson said a wall is not needed.
Other issues facing the nation include rising cost of health insurance. Johnson said Blue Cross is preparing to announce major premium increases soon. “It is a huge problem as more insurers leave the market,” he said. Another very large insurance concern for Louisiana is Flood Insurance. He said there needs to be a comprehensive disaster insurance solution that would help residents in flood prone areas, in wildfire areas, and other parts of the nation subject to natural disasters.
One area Johnson said is one of his greatest concerns is the national debt. He said, “It is 21-trillion dollars. The Congressional Budget Office predicts that by 2030 spending to service the debt and to cover social security, Medicare an other similar programs would be greater than our Gross Domestic Product. That all of our taxes would go to pay that, with nothing left over for defense or anything else. We have got to fix it now.”
Johnson spent over an hour taking questions. He concluded on a positive note. “I am optimistic that we are moving in the right direction,” Johnson said. “We need to maximize the positives Louisiana has and the country has, otherwise we are squandering our God given opportunities.”
Thanks to Trey Lewis and the Library for the great picture below of Congressman Johnson during the Town Hall.