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Rep. Vicky Hartzler (r): town hall in Harrisonville, Missouri – the reviews are in (April 29, 2011)

Representative Vicky Hartzler held a town hall in Blue Springs, in the 4th Congressional District, on Thursday evening in the gym at James Walker Elementary School. There were about forty-five people in attendance, with an additional fifteen individuals from the school, from Ms. Hartzler’s staff, and law enforcement.

Representative Hartzler entered the gym and personally greeted everyone seated in the audience before taking to the lectern to speak.

Representative Vicky Hartzler (r) greets constituents at her town hall in Blue Springs, Missouri.

The first part of the transcript:

Representative Vicky Hartzler (r): ….[applause] Well, thank you, thank you. That’s [….] and he’s a member of our team. I’ll introduce him again in a minute. But, uh, I just want to thank you guys for coming tonight. It’s such a beautiful evening. We haven’t had any sunshine, for what, four years now, or something, it seems like? [laughter] And so we finally had a sunny day and nice evening. You could be out mowing your grass or pulling weeds or whatever and you decided to come out and spend a little time with us tonight talking about our country and our situation and share, share with me some of your ideas on what we need to do turn things around and make it even better for our kids and grandkids and ourselves, too, as far as that goes. So, thank you for doing that. That means, uh, you guys are true patriots. And it’s very, very, very, very helpful to me. But, as I look around tonight I see a few familiar faces. One’s [….], I got to know him last couple of years and what a wonderful, bright young leader, now the councilman here, so, uh, glad you came [….]. And it’s good, uh, to, to see, others of you as well. I know I served with [….] in the House of Representatives when I was a state rep and so you’ve got a good, good mayor here. But, um, thank you for coming. I’m sorry I was running a few, uh, minutes late. We went to the other elementary school on Sunnyside Drive. You know there’s two, the one on that side. And we got all excited, there’s a lot of people there, too. It turns out they were all playing soccer with their kids. [laughter] So, wait a minute, we’re at the wrong elementary school, so we figured it out.

Anyway, well, uh, actually, you know, first, since I don’t know most of you guys I thought I’d take just a second to introduce myself ’cause, um, I hope we can become friends and, and, uh, you feel comfortable calling me if you have an idea or concern or something like that. But, uh, I was just sharing with the principal, and, first of all, I do want to thank you [….] . Thank you for letting us, uh, meet here in this school here. Let’s give the school district a hand. [applause] Thank you so much. But I just grew up, uh, you know, down the road in Cass County, so I’m really very close, uh, to here. It’s forty, forty-five minutes or something to get here. Uh, grew up on a farm, went to Archie and, uh, a very small school. But, uh, you know, went to MU to college. That’s a big school. And, uh, got my education degree, became a teacher, taught in Lebanon, Missouri my first year, which is in the fourth district. And then, uh, got married moved back home and taught another ten years at Belton, was a track coach. So, used to have track meets against Blue Springs. [inaudible] You guys, such a powerhouse in athletics. So,  I’m going to give you credit for that. And I do enjoy watching your football team, it’s fabulous. But, anyway, I’m sorry, getting off track. I’m a sports fan. Um, but my husband and I [inaudible], we farm as well. Just like us, uh, my family growing up, so we raise corn and soybeans and wheat, if ever we get it planted in the fall, if it’s not raining. Uh, we have, uh, some cows that we, uh, finish and, uh, and raise cow calf operation and we have some hogs. So, we’re just kind of a farm. But we also are small business owners. We own Hartzler Equipment Company. We have combines and, and lawn mowers and, anyway, stuff. We have three stores, one in Harrisonville, Nevada, and Lamar. Uh, so that’s kind of my background a little bit, basically agriculture, education, and small business. And so I need your help in all the other areas of [laughter] government and, and background. So that’s why, uh, I want to get to know you because I bet you guys, hi. [voice: “Howdy.”]  Thanks for coming. We just, getting started here. Uh, you all have a lot of expertise in your areas of, of places, how you grew up and the work you’ve had and things and, uh, so I welcome all your ideas, okay….

…What, uh, like […] said, we, we want to just have a discussion tonight. I wanted to share with you some facts that I learned about our budget first, ’cause that’s a big, uh, topic of discussion that we’re dealing with in Washington, D.C. And, uh, some of the information I have received is pretty, pretty sobering, uh, and I wanted you to know what these facts are so as you hear about us trying to rein in spending and making some, uh, tough decisions, but responsible decisions, I think you’ll kind of know where we’re coming from. Plus, I want your ideas on how to do it ’cause this isn’t, uh, usual and customary in D.C. to start talking about how to cut, how much less to spend instead of how much more to spend on things. So, I welcome your input in that.

Representative Vicky Hartzler and a staffer (right).

But, first, I did want to introduce our team because this is a staff that’s working for you. Uh, I work for you and they work for you and, uh, somebody said, what’s you team’s name gonna be? You gonna call yourself Vicky’s team or Hartzler team? I said, no, no way, I said, this is not about me, this is about us, Missouri fourth district. So we pondered on it a little bit and one night it came to me ’cause I like those license plates, you pull up behind a car and they’re always kind of coded and you’re like trying to figure out what does that mean? So, here it is. I wanted to show you. I think it’s in here. Is it in here? Yeah, it is. Okay. I took this out at noon in Harrisonville I was almost afraid somebody would snatch it ’cause it’s just so amazing. Well, anyway, so the name of our team is the Mo for you team. We’re the Missouri four and we’re here to do mo’ for you. So, anyway, I thought that was kind of clever. Well, anyway, all right. [laughter] So much for that. I’m glad I enjoyed it, right? [laughter]  Any way, the Mo for you team. This is [….] he’s originally from Harrisonville and, uh, he’s now my legislative director in, in D.C. and, uh, he’s a great, uh, young man. We got [….] and she is out of our Jefferson City office. We have four offices, one in Jefferson City, Harrisonville, um, Sedalia, and Lebanon. So probably the closest one to you if you personally are in the Harrisonville area or want to come visit with someone in person about an idea or issue you can, uh, come down to Harrisonville. But [….] is, you need to get to know her if you’re a veteran . She’s worked for Senator Bond for years and she’s kind of the expert in, uh, veteran’s issues. And so she’s got [whisper] the secret phone numbers. So, she knows who to call directly that can get, uh, a veteran, a health, if they’re getting a runaround with, uh, VA system or something. So, just curious, is there anybody here who’s a veteran? All right. [applause] Thank you. [inaudible] Thank you, each and every one of you, for your se
rvice. We, uh, we owe you a debt of gratitude we can’t repay as, as a nation. We really do. Uh, and so [….] is a good person to become friends with and get to know. And if you have these little cards please, uh, keep ’em handy. This is our phone numbers for the Jeff city office, that’s where [….] is at, uh, Lebanon and Harrisonville, um, as well as the web site and Twitter and Facebook. So, if you do that I’d like to invite you to follow me. The next person on our Mo for you team is [….], she’s our state director. She works in Jeff City, also.  But she is really good at, at helping, uh, people with, uh, getting the help they need and making those connections. So, h, we have [….], you already met him, he’s our press secretary. I do want to say, he helps me send out an e-mail every week and so, if you aren’t signed up yet please fill out the form here. Um, I really would like to commun, be able to communicate directly every week about what’s going on in the capitol and what I’m doing, uh, so you know and you can e-mail back and, with ideas or whatever, instead of just depending on whatever you’re hearing on the news. So, if you want to sign up, love to have you do that. And also, you probably, uh, since I was a few minutes late, already got this filled out, but if you have a concern or an idea, uh, if we run out of time asking questions and you want to, uh, just leave it we will, I will read ’em later and we’ll get back to you on that. And then, uh, [….] is the main person in our Harrisonville office. So, if you come visit you’ll probably see [….] and she’s there. She’s one of our caseworkers, too, and helps people. We got [….], she’s in and out of the Harrisonville office. She travels with me. She’s great. Got [….] from Lebanon office. And then we have [….] who is out of Jefferson City office and he’s an intern. And he’s, uh, helpin’ out on the Mo for you team and all this, so.

Anyway, that being said, does that sound like a good idea for tonight? I’d love to just, uh, share with you some facts about the budget and what we’ve been doing and then the last, uh, forty-five minutes or so just take your questions and see what you want to talk about. So, that sound like a plan? Okay.

Well, let’s try this. I’ve got a real nifty little gizmo here, see if we can do it. Okay. Well, this just shows that, uh, basically we’re spending a lot of money. More and more and more and more every year. I think everybody knows that. But this is one of the most telling slides, uh, that I ran across that I want to bring home and share with you. It shows where our, uh, in the budget, where the money goes. And so you’ve got the red is the non-defense discretionary and that’s what most people would consider  the federal government. In here is all the departments, Department of Education, Energy, uh, Transportation, Veterans Affairs, Homeland Security, if you had earmarks which this year we’ve banned earmarks, both in the House and the Senate, but they would be in there, foreign aid, most things that Congress debates every year and appropriates is only in this, this category and this category. This, of course, is defense. Um, I just wanted to say on defense that I have the honor of being appointed to serve on the Armed Services Committee. And I am just so privileged to get to sit on that committee and to be, to work on behalf of our men and women in uniform and their families and the veterans. Uh, I am concerned with the amount of money, as far as a percentage, in defense. It has gone down and down and down and down and down every year. And, uh, we’re spending less now on our defense than we were back in President Kennedy’s day, back in the sixties which I think is concerning. Uh, I knew there was a lot of threats in the world before I was on Armed Services Committee, now as I’m, even had to get to, privilege of sitting on classified hearings I can tell you what you all, we all probably know, but there are a lot of threats to us all around the world. A lot of our airplanes are over thirty years old. We’ve got some fifty years old. Um, we have the smallest fleet of Navy ships back some, from World War One. So, you know, I think if anything we need to be, uh, spending more money here, more percentage. Uh, I kind of organized an effort within the freshman class, there’s eighty-seven of us new ones, and most of us, we’re pretty like minded. We think we need to spend our money wisely and quit spending money we don’t have. But, several of us did, uh, send a letter to, uh, [Speaker] John Boehner and to the chairman, Paul Ryan, of our budget committee, saying, in this time, as we’re looking for cuts we think we need to cut, but, please remember to keep national defense as a priority. Because, according to the Constitution, we believe there’s only a few things that the federal government should be doing. And one of them is to provide for the common defense. So, I, I did want to just share with you kind of some efforts I’m doing to try to, uh, pro, defend defense. Then this is Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, interest on the debt, which is, of course, now interest rates are very low. Uh, so, this is concerning if interest rates go up very much it’s gonna be kind of like Pacman, do you remember that video game? Uh, I think this could grow and eat out more and more percentagewise of the budget, which is gonna squeeze out this area even more. This program they lump together, um, mandatory programs, those are ones where Congress past has voted on a bill that says, uh, if you meet certain guidelines then you’re entitled to, uh, some benefit. So that would be Pell Grants, farm subsidies, unemployment, food stamps, those type of things, so they, they just lump those all together there. But, pretty interesting.

Wait a minute, Social Security is funded by a trust fund which is solvent and funded by worker contributions.

Social Security does not contribute to the deficit. It is disingenuous in the extreme to even make an allusion that Social Security contributes to the deficit.

Okay, the next slide is very interesting, too. And this is very sobering in my opinion. It shows that of the three point eight trillion dollar budget only two point two trillion was what you and I sent in. basically the government is borrowing more than forty-two cents out of every dollar it spends. This is money last year that we did not have, uh, send in as tax payers so the government borrowed. So, think about it. Would we do this at home? Would we keep spending four, borrowing forty-two cents out of every dollar we spend? We don’t do that at home. Uh, and, um, we don’t do it in our businesses, we don’t do it on our farms, we don’t, you know, we, we tighten the belt. If we, uh, you know, spend a little too much, maybe on the credit card, get that bill and go, whoa, my goodness. Your, you tighten it up. You may not, uh, go by Starbucks so much or you might, do something else, hold off on buying a new pair of jeans or something. You, you tighten the belt. And so, I think Washington needs to tighten its belt ’cause this is unsustainable. If you go, uh, if I go back to this one, If you can kind of, we’ll be high tech here, can, if you overlay the green here with the programs it, it’s being spent you see that most of the money that you and I send in is being eaten up with the Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and interest and mandatory programs. See that. So, uh, one way to look at is that everything I consider, you consider, a lot of people consider government is being run on borrowed money. That’s pretty scary. You know, uh, the last two years as I was, uh, uh, out campaigning and stuff, welcome, here’s [inaudible] have to look over there, um, people would come with ideas and think, well, if we, let’s balance the budget, if we just got where, rid of waste fraud and abuse, let’s do that. I’m like, yeah, let’s do that. And say, well, let’s get r
id of earmarks. I’m like, yeah, that’s a good idea. Or, maybe we should get rid of, uh, you know, foreign aid, or, or, let’s eliminate the Department of Education [….] I heard that. Anyways, the federal one, not , you know, anyway these different ideas, and they sounded good, but I realize, this is what was sobering, is that you could totally mothball, based on, whoops, based on this. You see that? You could mothball all of Washington, D.C. and the national defense and still just barely balance the budget. Can you, you understand that? Now usually when I say we could mothball Washington, D.C. there’s a round of applause. So I was just, I was just waiting. [laughter] I wasn’t certain about that.  You know, this is, this is serious stuff, so it can’t be solved just by doing a few things. We’re gonna have to be bold and do a lots of things in order to get us back to fiscal soundness. Another way to look at it is that we’ve run out of money, uh, about July twenty-seventh and the rest of the year the government runs on borrowed money. Not good.

That’s just showing if you’ve eliminated earmarks, which we have, uh, but all foreign aid, you see the percentage there of how much of the pie we’ve safe. And, uh, so it, it may be right move or it may not, but it’s not gonna solve everything. Okay….

There were about forty-five people in attendance, with an additional fifteen individuals

from the school, from Ms. Hartzler’s staff, and law enforcement.

Transcript of the remainder of Representative Hartzler’s town hall presentation and the question and answer session which followed will follow in subsequent posts.