Congressman Ami Bera Discusses Tax Legislation, Broad Array of Issues at Elk Grove Town Hall Meeting



November 19, 2017 | 

A town hall meeting held at Elk Grove's Monterey Trail High School sponsored by Dr. Ami Bera drew an audience of over 200 people yesterday to hear the third term Democrat discuss a host of issues including the recently passed tax legislation. 

Bera, who is in his third term representing California's highly-competitive 7th congressional district, also answered a host questions including health care, climate change, veterans benefits, affordable housing and gun control. Questions for Bera were submitted in writing with Elk Grove Mayor Steve Ly sorting and reading them.

Opening his comments, Bera noted the importance of the meetings and encouraged participation from all citizens regardless of political leanings. Bera then quickly discussed the recently passed tax legislation in the Congress.

"From my perspective, this is not a very good tax bill, here is why I feel that way," he said. "I would be all for tax reform if it helped middle class and working class families, but if you look at the bill the way it was put forth, it actually helps middle class and working families very little."

Bera said the bulk of the tax bill benefits help the very wealthy but noted he would support legislation that helps small businesses. Bera said the bill helps large corporations but does little to help small and medium-sized businesses.

After his opening remarks, Bera fields about 13 questions from Ly. In asking the questions, Ly said many of the audience inquiries were similar to one another.

Regarding healthcare, Bera noted that President Donald Trump has chosen not to provide some of the cost-sharing subsidies, in spite of effort in California to provide healthcare access, has probably increased to cost of health insurance premiums to everyone.

"That was not helpful, that does not reduce the debt or the deficit," he added.

 Bera pointed to the Alexander Murray legislation coming from the U.S. Senate as a possible short-term solution to stabilize health insurance markets. That bipartisan bill which Bera said there are votes for in both chambers, is sponsored by Senators Lamar Alexander (R -Tenn.) and Patty Murray (D - Wash.) would provide two years of funding for key payments to insurers known as cost-sharing reduction subsidies.  

"The problem is Republican leadership, Mitch McConnell, and Paul Ryan will not allow that vote to come to the floor for a vote," Bera said.

Unlike other town hall meetings held throughout the country in the immediate aftermath of Trump's inauguration earlier this year, Bera's audience listened intently and engaged in civil discussion. Perhaps noting two of his primary opponents - Democrat Brad Westmoreland and Republican Andrew Grant were in attendance - Bera said he was there not to discuss campaign issues, instead issues from constituents were the main focus. 

Along with fielding questions that ranged from broad topics like relations with North Korea to person-specific items like accessing Veteran Administration medical benefits, Bera also discussed more philosophical topics like political divisions within the country. Bera noted political fissures are based in part on geography.

"We can't become two Americas," he said. "We've got to figure out enough space to address the issues in the middle of the country, in rural American, as well as coasts." 

Bera added that he is personally committed to having that conversation and added "It can't always be 'I'm right and you're wrong.'"

Although he did address his concerns regarding the divisions within the country, as he wrapped up the session Bera add a positive note saying he has confidence that the problems are not insurmountable.

"I believe America is a great nation, and I think we have to remember what makes us such a great nation and it is those opportunities, those values we are founded upon," he said. "The world is a better place with American engaged in it." 

An audio recording of entire meeting can be heard on the podcast posted on the right column of this page. A video of Bera's opening remarks can be viewed below. 






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