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Ttrip to DC Worth the Effort

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Posted by: Jeff Rea
President and CEO
South Bend Regional Chamber on Monday, October 16, 2017 at 12:00:00 am

Last week I visited Capitol Hill. I try to go out to Washington, D.C., at least annually to connect with our legislators and their staffs and visit about issues important to businesses in our region. This year, I was joined by about 100 other business leaders from throughout Indiana.

Major policy issues like tax reform, trade, health care and infrastructure topped our agenda. We arrived during the launch of the tax reform discussion and on the heels of the latest breakdown of health care reform talks. Though health care is stalled, we’re hopeful tax reform moves forward yet this year and that 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 passionate debate about where those best fixes are located. In the end, we are hopeful meaningful reform moves forward.

Infrastructure is high on our priority list. On the day we visited, U.S. Sens. Joe Donnelly and Todd Young, along with U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski, were sharing with President Donald Trump the importance of Indiana projects that include the South Shore Railroad upgrades that would lead to economic growth in northwest and northcentral Indiana. The South Shore double track project and the airport relocation project remain top priorities of the local business community. Federal help will be needed to accomplish the goal of a 90-minute South Shore commute from South Bend to Chicago, and vice versa, by 2020.

The trade discussion is a little like tax reform. Most would agree some improvements to the current system are necessary. With Americans able to consume only about 5 percent of what we produce, trade is vital to the success of our businesses.

During our visit we also discussed immigration, business regulations, national security and the deficit.

Some wonder whether such a trip is worth the time and energy. Congress has low approval ratings and people are increasingly frustrated by the partisan bickering that can dominate 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. Each time I’m there, I learn new things about the men and women who have worked hard to advance the interests of our country.

Our local contingent of Rep. Walorski, Sen. Donnelly and Sen. Young have each been generous with their time and all seemed happy to see and hear from friends back home.

All three have talented teams around them too. I’m amazed by the knowledge of both our legislators and their staffs on very complex issues. I don’t know how they keep it all straight.

Also Published in the South Bend Tribune

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