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United States Representative Brett Guthrie, R-Bowling Green, paid a visit to Washington County earlier this month to meet with local government officials, also taking time to update The Springfield Sun on recent progress in the nation’s capital.
Guthrie visited officials to see how he could more closely assist with local matters, which included the county’s quest to gain access to an additional water supply should alternative sources ever be needed.
The congressman’s visit comes as part of his work period, which has seen him stop at numerous factories, schools and other venues throughout Kentucky.
Among Guthrie’s primary focuses within federal government is a concern that can be seen on the local front as well: putting workers with the proper training in skill positions.
“I bet you could talk to factories here and they’re always looking for people to work, but they need people with the right skills,” he said.
Guthrie said the U.S. Government will spend $30 billion on workforce training this year, yet 800,000 jobs remain unfilled due to a lack of skilled workers. He pointed out that many of those with the necessary skills are currently working minimum-wage positions and that the government needs to find a way to streamline those workers into jobs that are a better fit.
“Every factory, in my experience, is full of smart people who either didn’t find out they were smart when they were school-aged or nobody told them they were,” Guthrie said. “I’ve seen people in their 20s, 30s and 40s go to these training programs and blossom.”
Guthrie said he is currently pushing legislation that would put more emphasis on employee skills training and that he’s heard positive feedback from both sides of the aisle at the Capitol.
“I think it’ll be bipartisan, and it will be accepted by a lot of people and change people’s lives,” he said.
Guthrie also emphasized that training is needed beyond industrial work and includes a sizable need in the healthcare field.
Another of the representative’s pieces of legislation deals with spectrum, which Guthrie explained is essentially “the highway through the skies.”
Spectrum refers to traffic from broadcast television and radio, military communications and mobile internet access. Though the Navy and Department of Defense have spectrum reserved for their use, Guthrie has been at the forefront of a push to free up additional spectrum for government use if needed.
“Now that we’re downloading a lot of information, it’s getting crowded in the sky,” he said. “We’re trying to free up different bands of spectrum so our entrepreneurs can do more.”
The third of Guthrie’s bills is one that deals with Alzheimer’s Disease and the growing emotional and financial toll it’s taking on the country. According to Guthrie, Americans spend $200 billion per year treating the disease.
“I’m a baby boomer, and as we live longer, more people are getting it,” he said. “If we have no improvements with the disease, by 2050, Alzheimer’s will cost a trillion dollars a year to treat.”
Guthrie, who said he has had several family members affected by Alzheimer’s, counts himself among those who believe delaying the effects of the disease or curing it altogether is possible with the proper support.
The congressman also gave an update on the progress of the Affordable Care Act — also known as Obamacare — expressing his displeasure with the program and that no other legislative changes have been made. Guthrie pointed out that all businesses with 50-or-more employees were supposed to have health insurance in place by the start of 2014, though that has now been delayed until after this year’s election. He said the fallout from changes to 80 percent of those with health coverage is still on the way.
“It is coming, and it is serious,” Guthrie said. “We need to convince the Senate not to just sit behind presidential delays. It’s a drag on the economy, and we need to sit down and talk about it.
“We don’t need to go back to the healthcare system we had, but in my view, this bill is just not salvageable,” he added.
Of the 40 million uninsured Americans prior to the implementation of Obamacare, 7 million have reportedly signed up through the program. Of those, however, Guthrie said estimates say roughly 5 million are those to whom the new policy does not apply or already have Medicaid.
“So, you have 40 million uninsured and you change the healthcare world for every single person with healthcare, and in the end, you have two million people that picked up health insurance,” Guthrie said. “That’s just not successful.”
Rep. Guthrie can be reached by phone at his Washington office at (202) 225-3501. Visit https://guthrie.house.gov/contact-brett/#dialog for regional contact information.