Rep. James Comer makes a point during a town hall appearance in Clinton.
(Clinton, KY August 3, 2017) - A crowd of fifty attended Representative James Comer's twenty third town hall meeting at the Hickman County Extension Office in Clinton today.
Comer is working through his vow to hold meetings in each of the thirty five counties of the First Congressional District by the end of the year.
Rep. James Comer spent the first half of the town hall meeting talking about current events and explaining the reasons why public perception of nothing getting done may be correct.
While he said that there is never a dull moment with Donald Trump in the White House, he's willing to cut the new President a great deal of slack. He reminded listeners that Trump won his district by 50 points. Trump was sent to Washington to "shake things up" and he is certainly doing that. In his closing remarks, he urged giving the President "more time." He did not define how much more time.
Instead of blaming the President, Comer blamed the Senate for failure of bills that passed the House. The House passed a repeal of Dodd-Frank and repealed the Affordable Care Act (more than once.) The Senate has stalled on both.
Comer recalled the ego of former Senate President David Williams and joked that "there are 200 David Williams" in Congress. He sympathizes with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Making senators do anything is especially difficult. No one, Comer said, can lead senators to do anything.
The thumbs down on the last health care repeal by Sen. McCain seemed particularly galling. He firmly believes that had the measure passed, the two bodies would go to conference and that the work horses of both houses would prevail to craft a better bill.
The first term Republican Congressman said that there is little to no camaraderie in Washington like he experienced in his fifteen years as a legislator in Frankfort. He criticized his party for continuing to focus on President Obama and Hillary Clinton. Those days are over, he said, its time to move on.
But he didn't let Democrats off the hook either. He said that Democrats seem opposed to everything Donald Trump does.
When pressed by Hickman Countian Henry Brazzell, Comer said that he could work with Democrats.
Comer said the major accomplishment of Congress and the White House so far is acts allowing roll back of executive orders signed by Barack Obama.
Trade policy has a direct effect on agricultural communities. When asked about tariffs raised by the Japanese on American beef, Comer said he was in favor of TPP (TransPacific Partnership) which would help American farmers export their products to the Far East.
But, Comer said, "Trump was against it. Clinton was against it. And Sanders was against it. So it was dead on arrival."
In the alternative, Comer said he is working with Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue to craft bilateral agreements with the countries who would have been part of TPP. He believes that President Trump will sign bilateral agreements, citing his get tough attitude toward trade issues.
Comer heard a plea from farmer Jacob Goodman's for help with soybean kills on his farm. Farmer asks Comer for help
Rep. Comer was for full repeal of the Affordable Care Act even though thousands of Kentuckians would lose coverage. He supports a work for health insurance plan for those who are able, similar to the one being proposed by Governor Bevin. Comer didn't say what jobs low income Kentuckians can get.
Comer worries most about the lack of private insurance in rural counties. In much of the First District, only one insurer is available - Anthem which has announced it's raising premiums by 40%.
"You won't like it when you go to sign up this fall."
Jetty Pyle, a retired teacher living in Hickman County, asked what can be done about rising drug prices.
Comer said he supports reining in drug companies. He has no problem importing drugs from Canada or across state lines. He spoke at length on the lack of transparency in the medical profession. "You should know how much services are going to cost when you go to the drug store."
Comer called health care the most difficult issue he has ever dealt with in his years in elective office. That's a sentiment that all in attendance at the Hickman County town hall meeting could agree on - no matter where they stand on the left right spectrum.