Senator Claire McCaskill (D) held a town hall in Concordia, Missouri at the Community Center Gymnasium on Tuesday, August 10th. Approximately sixty people attended.
Senator Claire McCaskill (D): town hall in Concordia, Missouri (August 11, 2010)
The third part of the transcript for the audience question and answer session follows:
Senator Claire McCaskill (D): [reading the question] If you are elected to represent the people of Missouri how can you support the health care bill when the people you represent are obviously against it in light of Proposition C.
Well, believe me, I noticed. Um, and I guess I can tell you honestly [redacted] that [pause] I know I may go home over this vote. I know I may go home over this vote. And when I cast it I knew that. I’m not dumb and naïve in that regard. There are really hard problems that we don’t solve in Washington because they, you can’t solve them without making people mad. They’re big, they’re complicated, they’re hard and you’ve got to step on some people’s toes to begin to solve them. And one of our problems in this country is people who go to Washington are so focused on staying they are never gonna make anybody mad. They never want to tackle a hard problem ’cause when you tackle a hard problem, you know you’re gonna lose voters. It’s hard to get anything done without making some people mad.
Now, I think overall, as time goes on and people learn how this bill will be implemented and learn that what they’ve heard is not true in regards to parts of the bill this bill, I believe, I may be wrong, but I believe it will become more and more accepted by the people I work for. And it wasn’t easy for me to vote for the bill knowing how unpopular it was, but I honestly believed it was the right thing to do for health care costs in this country. That’s the best answer I can give you….
…[voice: “Yeah, but your job is to represent us.”] Well, let me ask you this, campaign finance law in Missouri. Do you remember the vote in two thousand seven? Statewide? Do you remember what the vote was to limit contributions to candidates? You know what happened right after that? The Republican legislature in Jeff City said, forget about it. No limits on contributions. The same people that put Prop C on the ballot are the same ones that wiped out campaign finance limits that Missourians voted for. Carrying concealed weapons, anybody remember that statewide vote? [voices: “Yeah.”] How’d the people vote on that? [inaudible crosstalk] They voted against it. The people of Missouri voted no on carrying concealed weapons. And what happened after that? The legislature said, we know better. Now, I guarantee you in this room most people are glad the legislature did that. Right? [inaudible crosstalk] You thought the people that voted were wrong and you wanted it to be a different way. That’s the way our system works. These statewide votes are not binding. And sometimes you’ll like what the people decide and sometimes you don’t. But what I gotta do with each and every vote I cast, I’ve gotta make sure I’m doing what I believe is the right thing for the future. And I honestly believe, and I know you disagree by the way you’re sitting there, I honestly believe that as time goes on it will help bring down the deficit, it will help bring down health care costs, it will make Medicare more affordable and therefore sustainable for the next generation. And doing nothing was just simply not an option. [applause] That’s what I believe.
Senator McCaskill: [reading the question] EMR, electronic medical records, where does the funding for this come from? Rumor has it, Medicare trust fund and that being the reason for no [inaudible crosstalk], oh, you mean for, for the Social Security trust fund? Have we reduced our deficit to China at all?
No, we haven’t reduced our deficit to China at all. Um, but, we’re on a trajectory to begin to reduce it. Um, [inaudible] the next ten years, I mean if you look at the out, we are probably at a record high right now because of what we did, because of the economic disaster. Um, we’re slowly but surely getting all that money back. We’ve gotten almost all of the TARP money back with interest. Looks like we’re gonna get all of our GM money back, we’ve gotten big chunk of it back. Um, I don’t know about Chrysler. That’s still iffy, we may lose that money. Uh, and obviously we’re not gonna be engaged in another giant stimulus like we did at the point in time when things were very rocky. So, of course the deficit shot up because of those initiatives. But, as you see in this diagram, that light blue, that light blue is the deficit. I mean it is the, uh, TARP, is the stimulus. So light blue is the stimulus, that dark, the middle shade of blue, that’s TARP. So, you see how that goes away ’cause we’re getting it back and the light blue goes down, the others remain. The economic downturn is huge. We have less revenue in government because we have less economic activity. So that’s obviously been a hit.
The first part of your question is EMR. No, it’s not being paid for out of Social Security trust fund. The electronic medical records are being paid for, well, frankly some of that was in the stimulus. So, it wasn’t paid for, it was just stimulus activity to try to generate activity out there. But in the long run they’re gonna save money. [inaudible crosstalk][voice:”…you need to delete this (rumor e-mail) because it’s garbage.”] Right. There’s a lot of that, there’s a lot of that. [inaudible crosstalk] There’s a, healthcare.gov is a pretty good web site, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a pretty good web site for, for factual information on the health care stuff. [voice: “Thank you.”]
Senator McCaskill: [reading the question] Does the new health care bill do anything to encourage doctors to practice in rural areas of the state?
Yes. There’s incentives in there for nurses and for doctors. And there’s also, uh, upping, uh, rural health care, uh, payments to hospitals. Um, in fact, what I need to do because of your role with the regional planning commission let me get you a summary of all of the things in the bill that are geared toward helping people in rural areas get the same access to health care that people in the cities have, with the same kind of safety net provisions. That’s were telemedicine will really help, too, by the way. Um, you know, it, wouldn’t it be nice if you could see a doctor without leaving your house? That’s why all this rural broadband money that we spent money on, uh, with the stimulus. That rural broadband that Missouri’s getting’ a chunk of that, allowing people to have fast broadband will allow doctors to be able to see patients long distance. Um, many instances that the cost and the time of driving to a doctor is sometimes, uh, you know, for something that’s minor, you could do that with telemedicine and really help people in rural areas get more access to the help they need.
Question: Uh, my question, I work in economic development [redacted]. Uh, through, uh, USDA and through Department of Energy there’s [inaudible], not grants, but low interest loans for gre
en [inaudible]. Uh, first batch went through six eight months ago and the majority of those never reached grassroots companies in rural communities that were actually gonna create jobs. And I know another batch is in the process now. Is there any way to try to encourage USDA and the Department of Energy to focus those funds which are loans, they’re not grants…
Senator McCaskill: Right, they’re loans.
Question: …to create jobs, green energy jobs in, in rural communities rather than giving them to large electrical companies and electrical associations, oil companies? Uh, can we get ’em [inaudible] down?
Senator McCaskill: Well, a, a chunk of it is going to the rural co-ops. Um, so you know. And of course we got a lot of those incentives that have done the wind farms up in northwest Missouri. In fact, um, that, a lot of that was a, of, of, of investment that was both rural co-ops, local money, and private money and some federal money in terms of incentives. So there is that going on. But, I’m happy to get a break down for you of the rural versus urban use of some of those green, that green jobs incentives and so you can get a sense of where it’s getting broken down. I think you might be, if you add in biodiesel and you add in ethanol and you add in what we’ve done with wind you might be surprised to find that more of those dollars have actually gone to rural areas than have to cities. When you add those programs together. All of which, of course, are incentivizing alternative energy.
Question: Thank you.
Senator McCaskill : Uh, huh.
Transcript(s) of the remainder of the question and answer session will follow in subsequent posts.