U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy called Monday for decreasing regulations on industry to boost Louisiana’s economy along with making reforms to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and health care. Cassidy, R-Baton Rouge, had a town hall meeting Monday at the Port of Morgan City’s Government Emergency Operations Center. The country has to have an economy that creates better jobs for working class families.

To achieve that objective, leaders need “to get oil and gas back,” but expand into other types of industries, too, Cassidy said. “If we’re going to restore this economy, we need to think about how we can increase the kind of variety of jobs that we have,” Cassidy said. Private industry is the best at creating jobs, not the federal government, Cassidy said. Government can dredge a channel to provide for more of an export, maritime and fabrication economy, but the government doesn’t create innovative ideas that drive the economy. To grow the economy, the country needs to have fewer regulations on industry and decrease the corporate tax rate so companies invest in the U.S. and not elsewhere. “Silicon Valley is booming because the federal government basically leaves it on its own,” Cassidy said. “I would say that fracking has really worked because the EPA has been unable to significantly over-regulate fracking.” Cassidy wants to change how the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers operates and “to cut that red tape” to allow communities to more easily do their own work, as opposed to having the Corps do everything. Leaders have to fix the system so that the Corps has the ability to complete projects quickly. Port Director Raymond “Mac” Wade asked Cassidy to keep pushing legislation in Congress to reform the way dredging funds are spent. Port officials say that if they get control of dredging money, they can dredge the Atchafalaya River Bar Channel for much cheaper than what the federal government does. St. Mary Levee District President Bill Hidalgo said that levee district officials have already spent a year and a half working to get a Corps of Engineers permit for the Bayou Chene flood control project. That drawn-out process requires local officials to spend more of their own funds to get the Corps permit. The Atchafalaya River Bar Channel silting in is not just a concern for navigation but for potential flooding as well, Hidalgo said. Opening the Bar Channel would provide better drainage to prevent flooding in six parishes. Part of the problem with trying to increase Corps of Engineers funding is that over 50 percent of the federal budget goes to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and interest on the debt, Cassidy said. If the country doesn’t solve those problems, there will never be enough money to fund roads and highways, water infrastructure and other projects, Cassidy said. Cassidy, a gastroenterologist, said “Obamacare is killing the economy.” According to Blue Cross Blue Shield, 25 percent of people getting health insurance through Obamacare are only getting health insurance because they are going to have an expensive procedure done, Cassidy said. “What we see is a system set up where it’s just not working,” Cassidy said. Cassidy has co-authored a bill that would take all the money that the state gets under Obamacare and everyone eligible for a credit and gives the governor and state Legislature the option to automatically enroll all eligible people in health plans, unless they don’t want to be. The bill also implements “price transparency” so patients know how much a procedure costs before having it done. “We do some other stuff trying to give the patient the power to make a decision as to what he or she wants to do,” Cassidy said.

Published by Daily Review 08/23/16


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