Congressman Jim Hagedorn (Minnesota 1st district) answered questions from Fillmore County residents at a January 25 town hall held in Spring Valley. About 30 citizens attended.
Attendees were given the opportunity to submit written questions. District Director Carol Stevenson drew questions from a container labeled Fillmore County residents. Questions from those that lived outside the county were separate and time didn’t permit any of those questions to be addressed.
Hagedorn said this was not a campaign event. The district consists of 21 counties and he has been holding town hall style events in many of them. He explained he spends about 35% of his time in Washington. He praised himself for the fact that in over 700 votes in congress, he has only missed four (three of them due to a funeral). He is pleased to serve on two House committees, agriculture and small business.
Much of his work serving the district involves helping people in the district, that have an issue with the federal government, and getting their issues resolved.
Hagedorn stressed his conservative values: strong on defense/peace through strength, secure borders, regulation and tax reform, work for welfare to augment the workforce, defense of the people’s Constitutional Rights, pro-life, pro second amendment, and religious freedom.
Hagedorn claimed that the optimism rate among farmers is now off the chart with the USMCA trade agreement. He insisted President Trump is right to maintain tariffs on China, supporting him 100% on this. Hagedorn did have one area he parted ways with the administration and that is the 31 small refinery waivers for bio fuel, which infuriated ethanol and corn producers.
He discussed African Swine Fever in China and the need to contain it so it doesn’t get into our country. If it came to this country it would hurt numerous ag related industries. He suggested a task force was needed to beef up check points where pork products come into the country. He supports everything that protects our food supply and protects our farmers.
Hagedorn opposed the impeachment process, calling it unwarranted.
A Spring Valley woman questioned the Trump administration recent announcement to curb access to food stamps. She also asked about children and a reduction in the price of a lunch? She roughly quoted Matthew 25; when you help the least of these you are helping me. Hagedorn noted there are discrepancies from state to state. We want to be fair to taxpayers and want people to be encouraged to work. A woman insisted you have to pay them more if you want them to work. Also, children don’t work, but they need a hot lunch. Hagedorn insisted “people should fend for themselves.”
Another woman asked how the impeachment proceedings will affect democracy. Hagedorn stated most of the case is about motives. They claim they know what Trump was thinking. I don’t think it is helping. We should spend our time on other issues, like the crisis at the southern border and infrastructure.
A woman asked his opinion concerning Trump’s speech at the “March for Life Rally.” Hagedorn maintained we need to take care of the most vulnerable, the unborn and the elderly. He said he supports two bills in the House: aborted babies born alive need to receive medical care and no abortions after week 20, when babies can feel pain.
Another woman said our roads are graded at a D/plus and our bridges and dams are graded at a C. How can funds be redirected to a border wall? Hagedorn insisted these are defense dollars being redirected. He said he supports transportation funding, adding there is competition for federal funding. Everyone, state and local officials, support the completion of Highway 14.
A woman said 11 of 21 counties in the first district have no obstetrics medical unit. Will you support the “Rural Moms Act?” Hagedorn acknowledged that she had a good point. People in rural areas have to travel distances for medical care. He claimed there are a disproportionate number of patients with government backed insurance in rural areas, which pays less to the provider. This makes it harder for rural providers to stay in business. She recommended that laws be passed to provide necessary funding, so our neighbors in rural areas can have adequate medical services. Hagedorn suggested that a lot of Medicare reimbursements are fraudulent. Also, some clinics or rural hospitals close because they can’t get enough people willing to work there. He insisted proposed programs like “Medicare for All” or a public option will put more rural hospitals out of business. He said he strongly opposed these proposals. Several in the crowd seemed to disagree. Hagedorn pointed to how the economy in the city of Rochester has grown as the Mayo Clinic has grown; they are tied together.
Another asked, why not fix the imperfections in Obamacare? Hagedorn insisted it won’t work. There is just a little sliver of people that get their insurance from the independent market. A woman commented that it is very expensive for self-employed people. Hagedorn went on to say that dropping the age to 55 for getting on Medicare will bankrupt the program faster. He insisted you need nationwide competition in the system; you should be responsible for yourself. Hagedorn also favored having transparency in regard to the costs of procedures from providers. This will allow patients to shop around for the best price. There should be high risk pools for higher medical needs. There is no financial benefit now for being healthy.
H.R. 3 introduced last September requires the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to negotiate prices for certain drugs. Hagedorn called this price control and voted against it. He insisted it will discourage innovation and research by forcing all to sell drugs at the same price to everyone. However, early in the meeting he did say he was in favor of prescription drug reform.
A woman asked about what is trying to be accomplished in Afghanistan. When will we know that? Hagedorn acknowledged that he feels President George W. Bush was wrong to try to put a democratic government in nations that have been ruled by dictatorships. Afghanistan is run by tribes. We need stability and as much commitment to human rights as possible, but we will not get to a democratic republic. He supported troop removal, but said it has to be done in a smart way. Hagedorn suggested people in Iran want to live in a secular country. I don’t support war, but I did support getting rid of a bad guy. Trump as commander in chief is responsible for American foreign policy.
Hagedorn concluded saying he introduced H.R. 5146 (Unlocking Opportunities for Small Business Act) to the Small Business committee. The bill recently passed the House. The bill makes it easier, by removing barriers, for small businesses to compete to be the prime contractor on federal projects. He described another bill, H.R. 4469 (American Workforce Empowerment Act) which will expand 529 education accounts. Hagedorn explained that for the last 20 to 30 years we have been telling kids they have to go to a four-year college. Many end up doing something they really didn’t want to do. We should let them have choices and encourage young people to follow their dreams. He said earlier in the meeting that there is a shortage of skilled workers.