News From Terre Haute, Indiana

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November 22, 2013

Coffee with the Congressman

Rep. Larry Bucshon talks with constituents over a cup of java at Clay County diner

TERRE HAUTE — If you dropped in for a late breakfast Friday at the Harmony Diner just west of Brazil, you might have been surprised to find the place packed to the gills with folks sipping coffee and listening to a man standing by the front door answering questions for well over an hour.

It was not a normal morning for Kelly and Becky Murphy, owners of the diner, which is on the north side of U.S. 40 in the small Clay County town of Harmony and seats a few dozen diners. The Murphys needed extra coffee to meet all the demand as Congressman Larry Bucshon, a Republican representing the 8th District, took questions from a largely supportive audience during a session of “Coffee with the Congressman.”

Bucshon, a surgeon before running for the House in 2010, took questions on everything from the future of coal powerplants, presidential appointments, education policy and rules regarding burning tires.

“Right now, nothing is easy in Washington,” Bucshon said.

Bucshon, 51, said he was not surprised that the roll out of online registration for the Affordable Care Act had not gone well. He also said he was not surprised that thousands of people learned they would no longer be permitted to retain their current health insurance packages despite assurances from President Obama they would.

The Congressman also said he believes Indiana’s Republican-led state government has done the right thing in refusing to expand Medicaid as the ACA urges. Medicaid is badly abused and is already in financial crisis, he said. Expanding it would only make matters worse, he added.

Richard Dierdorf of Clay County, retired from the Indiana Department of Workforce Development, stood in the back of the diner and differed with Bucshon, especially on health care topics. Dierdorf stated Republicans have obstructed the ACA without offering an alternative.

Bucshon responded that he and Republicans have offered several alternatives and cited a Congressional Budget Office report predicting millions will remain without health insurance 10 years down the road under the ACA.

“I can always hear him, but he can’t always hear me,” Dierdorf said after the more than 90-minute meeting in the diner. Dierdorf said he opposes ideology of any kind and has a way of upsetting folks on the right and the left.

During their exchange, Dierdorf noted the current low popularity ratings of the Congress, something Bucshon didn’t dispute.

In the Congressman’s view, voters on the right and left are disappointed when their representatives don’t deliver 100 percent of what they want. As a result, few people are happy with what Congress is producing, he said. In many cases, a more moderate Republican or Democrat will be challenged and defeated by a more ideologically pure opponent in a primary, he said. As a result, the two sides are drifting farther and farther apart, Bucshon said.

“We always say, family and close relatives” are about the only ones who believe Congress is doing a good job, Bucshon said.

Reporter Arthur Foulkes can be reached at 812-231-4232 or arthur.foulkes@tribstar.com.

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