• Bob Vlach, Woodford Sun Staff

‘We need to deliver solutions,’ Barr says


ANDY BARR, who represents Kentucky’s 6th congressional district in the House of Representatives, spoke with those attending a Woodford County Chamber of Commerce breakfast at Ruggles Sign Company on Tuesday morning. Pictured with Barr is William Saunders. (Photo by Bob Vlach)

Frustrations about federal government’s inability to get anything done for the American people were shared with U.S. Congressman Andy Barr when he came to Versailles on Tuesday morning. With majorities in both legislative bodies and a Republican in the White House, local resident Merl Pitchford told Barr that lawmakers “can’t get the health care situation solved for ourselves and our children.” “We need some leadership. We need people that actually step up and do some things,” said Pitchford. He described himself as an average guy, with calluses on his hands, who does not want personal agendas and arrogance getting in the way of moving “this country forward.” “I share your frustration 150 percent,” Barr said. “We should not be there to fight. We should be there to fix problems … We need to deliver solutions and we need to do it now,” he added. While congressmen in other districts may fear compromise, Barr said he does not during an interview after speaking at a Woodford County Chamber of Commerce breakfast. “We have an obligation (in a district once represented by the ‘great compromiser’ Henry Clay) to carry forward that legacy to work in a bipartisan manner and compromise where we can,” said Barr. The Lexington Republican said that does not mean compromising “my core principles.” Asked for an opinion on President Donald Trump’s job performance, Barr said, “I think the tweets are unhelpful. Some of the tweets are unhelpful. I think that General (John) Kelly’s going to bring a military-style discipline to the White House that should help with the turnover (in executive branch staff). “I support the President and the Vice President and their agenda because their agenda is the agenda of the House Republican conference. So I’m very hopeful that this administration can work with this congress to move the country in the right direction. And I’m very hopeful with General Kelly there that will help eliminate some of the chaos. “I am also encouraged that President Trump signed into law these sanctions against Russia … I think he needs to recognize that Russia is our adversary. And I think he should have welcomed wholeheartedly this sanctions package which was the right move for our country. But what I will say in defense of this administration, particularly Nikki Haley, President Trump’s ambassador to the United Nations, is they’ve been very tough on Russia when it comes to NATO…” Barr said he was also encouraged by President Trump’s willingness to enforce a red line when dealing with Russia’s ally Syria and its leader, Bashar al-Assad. “So in many respects,” he added, “this administration has been much tougher on Russia than the previous administration, which erased red lines with Russia’s ally… “There’s no question that Russia interfered in our election and they should be punished for it. And that’s why I supported these sanctions against Russia and I’m glad the president signed it into law.” Asked if he agreed with President Trump’s suggestion to allow the Affordable Care Act (ACA) – more commonly known as Obamacare – to collapse, Barr said, “I want to fix the problem. I don’t want anything to collapse.” That’s why he voted in favor of American Health Care Act, legislation in the House of Representative, to replace the ACA, he added. Questions about health care and rising insurance costs dominated the conversation at a Woodford County Chamber of Commerce Breakfast with Barr on Tuesday morning at Ruggles Sign Company in Versailles. “I get it. This is a very difficult, emotional issue. We want everybody in America to have access to affordable coverage and health care. It’s a personal issue for all of us,” said Barr. He said everyone – Republican, Democrat or independent – has faced a health care crisis in their family. His sister was diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis at a young age so she – like many others – has a preexisting condition. “So I get it. It’s a personal issue. It’s a life or death issue for some people. And we need to get this right,” said Barr, who represents Kentucky’s 6th Congressional District in the U. S. House of Representatives. He said Americans may not want Obamacare to be a failing law, but it is as demonstrated by skyrocketing insurance premiums, higher deductibles and fewer insurance plan choices in the individual marketplace. “To be fair,” said Barr, “we’ve seen the number of uninsured go down. That’s good. We applaud that. But the problem is the defenders of the law cite that as the exclusive metric for success.” Because many physicians – especially specialists – cannot participate in the Medicaid program because of low reimbursements, many people do not have access to “the very specialist who can take care of them,” he added. For those who don’t support replacing the ACA, Barr said, “I want this to be a bipartisan effort. I think health care should be a bipartisan effort. I think the fundamental flaw with Obamacare is that it was not a bipartisan effort.” A health care bill passed by the U. S. Senate needs to actually fix the problem and lower the cost of insurance, while also providing more choices for people and making Medicaid sustainable, Barr said. He said an expanded Medicaid program has become an impediment for about 10 million able-bodied, work-capable Americans to get a job. Those people should be required to go to work or prepare for full-time employment as a condition of receiving a Medicaid benefit, he added. Whenever he visits a manufacturing business in Kentucky, “the message is the same. We have a labor supply problem,” said Barr. He described those able-bodied Americans who are not in the workforce as assets with “untapped potential” that will bolster the economy by becoming self-sufficient. Even with so many challenges facing the country, Barr told those at the chamber breakfast he’s more optimistic about the future now then at any other time during his five years in the United States Congress. “The U. S. House of Representatives has passed over 270 bills aimed at solving problems facing our country this year. Of course, not all of them have been signed into law. Many of them are stuck in the Senate, but some of them have been signed into law and represent advancements in a pro-growth, positive agenda that will secure prosperity for the future,” said Barr, who voiced his support for tax reform that lowers corporate tax rates and simplifies the tax code. “We want for businesses in America to look at a green light, not a directional signal,” explained Barr. “We don’t want the tax code to direct business activity and investment. We want a green light and let businesses make decisions based on the economics, not the tax implications.” Barr predicted Congress will deliver on tax reform this fall, but was less optimistic about receiving a bill back from the Senate to fix what he described as “the collapsing health care situation.”

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