BRADENTON -- With his sleeves rolled up and collar unbuttoned, Congressman Vern Buchanan visited Bradenton on Saturday as he spoke to more than three-dozen residents about the U.S. deficit, the creation of jobs and helping small businesses.
“I appreciate everyone coming out this morning,” Buchanan said at the St. Stephens Sunlight Middle School, 315 41st Street West. “I thought you’d all be out at the beach or something.”
The “biggest problem” right now, he said, is that the deficit is in the trillions. “We need to do something on a bipartisan basis,” Buchanan said, “so that it’s viable on the longer term.”
Buchanan also spoke about creating jobs in the United States and helping small businesses.
“The number one issue that we’re trying to work on everyday is to try to help small businesses with jobs,” he said.
The congressman said that most small businesses registered in Tallahassee had 50 employees or less.
“We’re writing out checks for unemployment,” he said. “If we can get people back to work, they’re writing checks in terms of Social Security and paying some income tax, ideally.”
The congressman also said foreign aid needs to be re-evaluated. “We need to focus on America,” he said.
Buchanan then opened the meeting for discussion with residents. One man blamed former President George W. Bush for the deficit. “New Republicans have been primarily responsible for doing something that’s not realistic,” he said.
But Buchanan said the Democrats had control of Congress during the first two years when President Barack Obama took office and “set us on this trend.”
Steve Tinsworth, of Bradenton, also addressed the crowd. Someone had told him about an analogy to describe the deficit: if your neighborhood sewerline was broken and sewage was oozing into your home, would you pump out the sewage or raise the ceiling?
“Wherever you want to place blame,” Tinsworth said, “those are the things that Congress and the White House need to put together.”
Judy Picart, of Bradenton, said she hopes the budget for the military will be reduced without affecting veterans benefits as the troops come home.
“I see a lot of money that could be used in a more positive way,” she said. “This is a mother speaking and a woman speaking ... I am in favor of protection, but I think we’ve got to balance it now.”
After the Town Hall meeting, Buchanan stayed for several minutes to chat with residents. Many of them formed a line, and one by one, had a few words with the Congressman and shook his hand.