U.S. Congressman David Kustoff with Tennessee’s Eighth Congressional District paid a visit Friday morning to the Carroll County Shooting Sports Complex, where he spoke to a crowd of about 56 invited guests during a special breakfast gathering inside the complex’s main lodge.
Carroll County Chamber of Commerce President Brad Hurley introduced Kustoff, pointing out that the Republican congressman was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives back in November of 2016 after receiving 73 percent of the vote in Carroll County. He was sworn into office on January 3.
Kustoff began by saying how impressed he was with the shooting complex facilities.
During his speech, Kustoff mainly addressed the topics of healthcare and tax reform, though he also touched on the need for infrastructure improvements and banking reform.
The congressman pointed out that the healthcare industry represents almost 20 percent of the national economy.
“We’ve got to repeal and replace Obamacare,” said Kustoff. “It’s an experiment that just hasn’t worked.”
As the congressman explained, Obamacare was passed in 2010 on the belief that young and healthy people would chose to buy health insurance, which would help offset the cost of providing insurance to the elderly and people with pre-existing conditions.
“The problem is that young people just haven’t been buying into the system,” said Kustoff. “Financially, it just didn’t make sense from the beginning.”
Obamacare, said Kustoff, has caused premiums and deductibles to skyrocket, placed extreme strain on hospitals, and taken a lot of money out of a lot of people’s pockets.
Kustoff pointed out that BlueCross BlueShield has stopped providing insurance for people living in Memphis, Nashville, and Knoxville, leaving those living in Knoxville with no insurance providers through Obamacare.
Kustoff said that he believes that everyone who wants health insurance should be able to buy it and that no one with pre-existing conditions should be denied health insurance.
The congressman also said that he would like to see a healthcare system that allows people to buy health insurance across state lines — which he said would create competition and drive premiums down.
McKenzie Mayor Jill Holland asked why anyone would be opposed to interstate competition when it comes to health insurance.
“The Democrats see it as chipping away at Obama’s legacy, and Nancy Pelosi has her thumb on the whole thing,” said Kustoff.
As far as President Trump’s recent failed attempt to push a repeal-and- replace plan through Congress, Kustoff pointed out that there are a couple of factions within the Republican Party that are holding out for some specific things they want to be in the plan and for some things they don’t want in the plan.
Kustoff said he doubts that there will be a single Democrat who votes for any measure to repeal and replace Obamacare.
“So it’s up to us to have a tight ship,” he said. “The problem is that if we don’t do something to fix healthcare, it’s going to collapse.”
On the issue of tax reform, Kustoff pointed out that the U.S. has one of the highest corporate tax rates in the world, which is driving corporations to move their operations and, in some cases, their headquarters overseas.
While the president has talked about lowering the corporate tax rate to as low as 15 percent, Kustoff said that a rate in the low 20’s would be more realistic.
“To me it’s a no-brainer,” said the congressman. “Just think about what you could do here in West Tennessee if we could bring back all those lost jobs and all that lost revenue.”
State Senator John Stevens asked Kustoff if he thought healthcare reform needed to be passed before tax reform is put in place.
“It really should to make tax reform work better,” said Kustoff.
Stevens and State Representative Curtis Halford spoke briefly before Kustoff took the podium.
Representatives from the Chamber of Commerce served breakfast to all those in attendance.
In closing, Hurley said he was very pleased with the turnout.