U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Longboat Key, left, took time to listen to issues of concern with Ed Natkie, right, of the Mount Vernon community near Cortez and others following a town hall meeting May 11 at Holmes Beach City Hall. Janet and Bill Mixon, center, of Anna Maria wait to greet the congressman. Islander Photo: Bonner Joy
U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Longboat Key, whose district is Manatee and Sarasota counties, hosted what he calls a town hall “listening meeting” May 11 at Holmes Beach City Hall.
Buchanan listened and answered a number of questions from the 60-some people in attendance.
The primary concern of those at the meeting appeared to be health care and how Obamacare would affect their health insurance or Medicare and Medicaid.
Other concerns discussed were immigration, the growing federal deficit, gun control and foreign aid to countries that are not U.S. allies.
Buchanan said he is opposed to amnesty for undocumented immigrants, but agreed something has to be done to accommodate the estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants now in the country.
He also was adamant that defense spending should not be cut. He would halt the $2 billion annual aid package to Egypt and some other foreign countries and use that money to solve the sequester issue in Congress, which is only about $800 million, he said.
Buchanan’s main concern is the growing national debt, which was $7 trillion when he entered Congress in 2006. In the past five years, the debt has grown to $16 trillion, and the national budget is short $1 trillion.
At the present rate of federal borrowing, the national debt will exceed the government’s annual income around 2025, according to a chart Buchanan presented.
Buchanan drew a round of applause from the audience for his stance that no offshore drilling be permitted along the Florida coastline, but he favors the pipeline from Canada to Texas.
He said while the long-term impact of Obamacare is unknown, he does know the entire medical and pharmaceutical industries need reform.
Buchanan said he regularly sends constituents emails and letters to get their views on topics of interest and he values the opinions of voters.
He is co-chair of the Florida delegation to Congress that includes both Democrats and Republicans and, Buchanan said, they have compromised on many issues for the benefit of Florida.
Buchanan said it’s his wish the entire Congress would be so comprising.