Rotary tradition continues
by Danny Wade
The Humboldt Rotary Club continued a long-standing tradition last Friday by having the sitting U.S. Congressman speak to the club at the beginning of each year. David Kustoff, congressman of the 8th Congressional District, has only been on the job for a few weeks but said things are moving quickly in Washington.
Prior to running for Congress, Kustoff was a U.S. District Attorney appointed by President George W. Bush. He said President Bush told him to run his office however he saw fit—whether he focused on violent crime, drugs, or any number of criminal offenses. President Bush told him to always be mindful of terrorism and keep it at the top of list.
“The main thing we do as a government is make sure we are kept safe,” he added.
Kustoff talked about what drove him to seek office as a congressman.
“There is a deep distrust in Washington,” Kustoff said. “That’s why I ran for office.”
As demanding as his job in Washington will be, Kustoff said he will not forget those who elected him. He plans to come home to West Tennessee every weekend and speak with people to hear how they want him to vote. Kustoff also praised former Congressman Stephen Fincher who offered a lot of advice.
Kustoff, like many other politicians seeking election, was a proponent of repealing Obamacare (Affordable Care Act also known as ACA).
“I heard loud and clear, the healthcare system is broken,” Kustoff said. “Affordable Care Act premiums go up and up and up. It was supposed to provide insurance for everyone. But a lot of people cannot afford it.”
Since ACA was enacted, insurance rates have been steadily on the rise. Kustoff said BlueCross had an increase of 60-percent two years ago and a 30-percent last year.
“We’ve seen deductibles go up,” he noted. “There’s too much expense and too much confusion.”
Now, under President Donald Trump, Washington is in the process of repealing and replacing Obamacare. Kustoff said it would probably be a drawn out process of doing away with parts that do not work and replacing them. Parts of ACA will continue.
“No one should be denied insurance due to pre-existing conditions,” the congressman said. “And no one should get canceled because you get sick.”
Jobs and economy
Kustoff said he has traveled West Tennessee. He said parts of his district have not recovered from the recession, what he called “stagnant”.
“Nashville and East Tennessee have recouped, we have not,” he added. “At the Federal level, we have to work on tax reform for individuals and for businesses. If we reduce taxes, that puts more money in your pockets. You spend more and that pumps life back into the economy.”
Currently, taxes on big businesses is 35-percent. This high rate has pushed some to relocate to other countries, some with tax rates of 15-percent. Kustoff said he couldn’t blame a company moving if it keeps that business afloat and making a profit. He said he didn’t like it but he understands.
President Trump and Congress are looking at reducing that 35-percent tax rate to 15 to 20-percent and recapture those lost taxes from other countries.
Banking and regulations
Kustoff said he has served on bank boards and knows how regulations have hindered lending.
“Regulations on banks since the recession is burdensome. There’s too much red tape,” Kustoff explained. “We’re already working to reduce regulations to make it easier to borrow money.”
Jobs and workforce
Kustoff said West Tennessee’s biggest hurdle is not the lack of jobs but instead a lack of qualified workforce. He praised Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam’s TN Promise where every graduating high school senior can attend a 2-year, community college or vocational/technical college for free.
“We have good employers with several medium and large size companies,” Kustoff continued. “But some have to go through (hiring process) three or four times before they find a qualified worker.”
In closing, Kustoff noted the country now has strong leadership at the top and he was working with them.
“It’s an honor working for you,” he said. “Every time I vote, I want to do what the people want and what is in the best interest of this country. I thank you for the opportunity to serve and for the opportunity to talk with you.”