FARMINGTON — It’s a changing world we live in, and that holds true for the farm community as well. Missouri Eighth District U.S. Representative Jo Ann Emerson, R-Cape Girardeau, was the keynote speaker at the monthly Farmington Chamber of Commerce luncheon as the second stop on her annual farm tour through the district.
There were no hay bales or cow patties on the stage at the Centene Center when Emerson took an hour from her day Thursday to address a sizable crowd. Then again, she said, other stops on her annual tour are unlike those she’s made in the past to traditional farmsteads and large commercial cattle or growing operations. This year the district tour will take her to an alpaca ranch, hydroponic vegetable operation and a small brewery opened recently in a small community in south central Missouri. She’ll also make some more traditional stops to visit crop farms and cattle ranches.
While she touched briefly on the concerns facing the agriculture industry, most of her address to the chamber members dealt with the issues facing Congress when it meets back up following the August work period back home in the districts. The House and Senate members will return to Washington D. C. following Labor Day and work until breaking briefly for the November election. They’ll recess again for Thanksgiving, and then be back to complete the “lame duck” session … a time when some members, and possibly the President himself, will be operating with the knowledge that they’re leaving office within a matter of weeks.
Emerson said Congress has three major goals to reach by the end of the calendar year. First, there are some 200 tax breaks set to expire at year’s end. This include savings tied to different tax brackets, child tax credits, estate taxes, corporation tax breaks and many more. The group will have to work feverishly to put plans in place to extend each break by name, or deal with the results of higher taxes for U.S. citizens starting in 2013.
Second, the House and Senate must each take up addressing the allowable debt ceiling for the government. Previously a plan was approved to either cut $1.2 trillion from the federal budget in the next 10 years or face across-the-board mandatory cuts to defense and domestic programs. Emerson said there are close to 1 million people employed in defense jobs, all of whom could be affected to some degree if those mandatory cuts are triggered.
The third project, the representative stated, is to fund the government for the remainder of the year. As a key player in the appropriations committee, she will be working hard to help assure all the funds-based initiatives are met before the current session ends.
“This election, I believe, is the most important election (in our lifetime),” she told the chamber crowd. She had started by assuring her talk would not be a partisan speech, but answered questions about the upcoming vote when asked.
A member of the audience asked what it would take, should a new President be elected and Republicans gain control of the Congress, to repeal Obamacare? She answered that the key would be a Republican majority in the Senate to affect any change in a timely manner. Should that happen as a result of the election, she added, many of the associated bills including 21 new taxes could be killed relatively quickly. Other related matters that would have to be handled would include dealing with the new “Independent Review Board” set up to decide who did and didn’t qualify for various medical procedures, and working to return some of the $700 billion taken out of Medicare.
And what if President Obama is reelected and the Republicans do not gain several new seats? Emerson reiterated that this is an important election. She said the House had recently passed 38 small business deregulation bills, but not one had been approved by the Senate. She reasoned that things will have to change if the goal is to shrink government spending and control.
By early afternoon the representative was headed out to tour the alpaca farm, then spend the night in south-central Missouri before continuing on this morning.
Doug Smith is a reporter for the Daily Journal. You can reach him at 573-756-8927, or at email@example.com.