Last week I had an opportunity to visit Capitol Hill for an inside look at what’s happening in Washington, DC. I try to go out at least annually to connect with our legislators and their staffs to visit about the issues important to businesses here in our region. This year I was joined by about one hundred other business leaders from our area and across the State.
Topping our agenda included major policy issues like tax reform, trade, healthcare and infrastructure. We arrived in the midst of the launch of the tax reform discussion and on the heels of the latest breakdown of healthcare reform talks. Though healthcare is now stalled, we’re hopeful tax reform moves forward yet this year and in early 2018 Congress does something with infrastructure.
We haven’t run into anyone that loves the current tax code and system. I think there is general consensus from both sides of the aisle that improvements are necessary. Early drafts have inspired some strong feelings about who might benefit most from changes. The devil will be in the details and the months ahead will inspire some passionate debate about where those best fixes are located. In the end, we are hopeful meaningful reform moves forward.
Infrastructure his high on our priority list. On the day we visited, Senators Donnelly and Young and Congresswoman Walorski were sharing with the President the importance of projects like improvements to the South Shore Railroad and what that will mean to growth efforts in northwest and north central Indiana. The South Shore double track project and the airport relocation project remain top priorities of the local business community. To accomplish the goal of ninety minutes by 2020, Federal help will be needed.
The trade discussion is a little like tax reform, most would agree some improvements to the current system are necessary. With Americans only able to consume about five percent of what we produce, trade is vital to the success of our businesses.
Over the course of our visit, we touched on many other issues as well, including immigration, business regulations, national security and the deficit.
Some wonder whether such a trip is worth the time and energy. Congress has low approval rating and people are increasingly frustrated by the partisan bickering that sometimes dominates the news. Will they listen? Will they be able to come together to work on any meaningful legislation? Does my opinion matter?
I’m convinced it does and it’s worth the trip. I plan to go each time I have the opportunity. I’m still in awe of the history and love to see the places I’ve heard so much about since my early days of history class. I learn some new things each time I’m there about the men and women that have worked hard to advance the interests of our Country.
Over the course of my visit, I had a chance to connect with our local contingent, visiting with Representative Walorski, Senator Donnelly, and Senator Young. Each of them have been very generous with their time. Even in the midst of a busy schedule, all seemed happy to see and hear from friends from back home.
All three have talented teams around them too with a broad knowledge of the many issues currently being discussed both back home and in Congress. I’m amazed by the knowledge both our legislators and their staffs have of a lot of very complex issues, I don’t know how they keep it all straight.