GRANDVIEW – U.S. Congressman Doc Hastings (R-Pasco) is preparing for the next congressional session during which President Barack Obama will be delivering the State of the Union Address.
“I suspect little will be said about Obamacare,” Hastings told those attending yesterday’s Grandview Rotary Club meeting.
Speaking to the group, he said Obamacare has been the one issue he has heard most about from his constituents.
“I am interested in what will be said, but more what won’t be said,” Hastings said of the coming presidential address.
The congressman admits he is not a fan of Obamacare. He said it is the direct opposite of plans like Medicare Part D, which opened the market to competition.
“Obamacare limits the options,” said Hastings.
He voted against the Affordable Care Act. He also voted to repeal the law.
“The problem is the debate was based on theory…after the beginning of the year, we began talking about practice,” said Hastings.
He said there has been a disruption in health care as a result of the law, and a lot of the president’s promises have proven to be false.
Hastings said the president has 28 times signed legislation that changes the law. Another 40 pieces of legislation have been approved by Congress, but the Senate has yet to debate and vote on the congressionally approved legislation.
“I have to believe they (the U.S. Senate) are hearing from their constituents what I am hearing from mine,” said Hastings.
“Obamacare right now is disturbing.”
Also disturbing to the congressman is the fact that he feels the president has the mentality that “…we’re just not going to enforce that part of the law…he’s set a precedent, showing a lack of respect for the rule of law.”
Hastings is, however, happy that a federal budget has been passed.
He said, “For the first time in four years there is a budget.”
That budget, which is actually 40 percent of the overall U.S. budget, involves discretionary spending.
“The bad news is we have to tackle mandatory spending,” said Hastings.
He said reform is necessary to reduce mandatory spending, which involves federal programs.
Discretionary spending, however, has been reduced during the past four years. Hastings considers that progress.
“It’s a step in the right direction.”
Another issue Hastings said he has a vested interest in is the Endangered Species Act. As a member of the House National Resource Committee, he said he has been confounded by the impact the Endangered Species Act has had on the Pacific Northwest.
“Changes need to be made…litigation is too easy,” he said, noting whole economies can be negatively impacted if a lawsuit listing a species as potentially endangered is filed.
A recent lawsuit of such magnitude directly impacted Franklin County. There were 750 species named as potentially endangered in the lawsuit.
Although farmers in that county conducted DNA testing that proved the bladder pod found in the county is the same plant that grows in Oregon and elsewhere, the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife continues to restrict land use in Franklin County because of the plant’s existence there.
Hastings said the Endangered Species Act “…is crying for reform.”
He said reforming the act may become easier in the future as other states like Oklahoma and Texas begin to experience the burden and negative impacts as they push on with energy development.
Hastings told those attending Wednesday’s Rotary meeting, “I don’t know anybody who doesn’t want to protect endangered species…the greatest concern and challenge is how it (the law) negatively impacts the economy and people’s lives.”