Breakfast with Congressman Joe Courtney

Jul 16, 2012

The MetroHartford Alliance and The New England Council invited Congressman Joe Courtney to speak with Hartford area business people about topics including healthcare, the economy and agriculture. Courtney first thanked the event sponsor, Dominion. He went on to mention that 50% of Connecticut’s energy portfolio is supplied by them and he touted the importance of the partnership they forged with Three Rivers Community College to mentor students and prepare them for entering a career in Nuclear Technology. He also commended the importance of a New England Council, especially after Connecticut lost a congressional seat after the last census. It is more important than ever for us to think and act as a region.

An important institution to Eastern Connecticut and the Congressman continues to be the Groton Sub Base. Courtney talked about the success of building the USS Mississippi, which was finished a year ahead of schedule and $60 million under budget. Connecticut has become extremely efficient at building these Virginia Class warships and the state realizes it. We are the only state that directly invests money into a federal military institution and Courtney is convinced that the Pentagon sees this and realizes the importance of the sub base to our state.

When asked about the Supreme Court Decision on Healthcare, Courtney was proud to say he had a seat at the ruling and that they were "harder to obtain than Springsteen tickets.” The Congressman’s biggest concern with the decision is implementation. He believes it is time to stop the bickering and senseless attempts to overturn the law and start concentrating on specific amendments as well as the successful implementation. Courtney mentioned two positive amendments including removing a forced 10-99 form for any purchase over $600 and an amendment to include the “age 26” rule to veteran’s Tricare, which will allow children in military families to stay on their parents insurance until age 26.

As Congressman Courtney serves on the Agriculture Committee, the first representative from Connecticut in 100 years, he paid close attention to the Farm Bill. He had voted against the final bill, as he saw some major flaws in it. One major problem Courtney saw was the cuts to the SNAP program, which is often a family’s last line of defense against starvation. The Congressman and his family of 3 actually took the “SNAP Challenge” and lived a week only consuming the $83 worth of groceries they would be entitled under SNAP, saying he learned how hard it was and lost 8 pounds! He also mentioned that the Vernon Food Pantry is currently empty as there is such a demand for food with so many out of work. The best way to fight this is through improving the economy and Courtney did not believe that this bill was the answer.

The Congressman mentioned some initiatives Eastern Connecticut is undertaking toward economic recovery, including job fairs in Mansfield and Norwich. Each fair attracted a fair amount of companies which is a positive sign that there are job openings, but there was also a much larger number of applicants. Norwich attracted over 1,000 people! With the housing market finally “leveling out,” Courtney said that the best thing Congress can do now is to “give the country a horizon.” He believes that given an idea of the future, business can properly begin both investing and hiring once again.

Thank you to Congressman Courtney for taking the time to come speak with us today!

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