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U.S. Representative Brett Guthrie (R-Bowling Green) stopped in Shelby County on Monday to visit with area firefighters and EMS workers and take a tour at Clear Creek Park.
But Guthrie, who is campaigning against Democrat Ed Marksberry of Owensboro for Kentucky's 2nd District Congressional seat, which he won in 2008, also wanted to reply to a few comments made by his opponent in The Sentinel-News on Friday.
Marksberry had called out Guthrie's voting record, focusing on a vote against a job creation bill and his statement that he will vote to repeal the health-care reform bill when given the chance.
Guthrie said the bill to which Marksberry referred was going to simply raise taxes.
"If Harley-Davidson had come to Shelby County, and we're all still hoping they will at some point, and they manufactured a motorcycle here and then sold it in Germany, they were going to have to pay taxes here and in Germany," he said.
"I want to eliminate that double tax. We want them to make it here and sell it here. We don't want to penalize our workers for exporting goods. There are a billion people in China, a billion in India and four hundred million in Europe, we want to make it feasible for our companies to build things here and then sell them in those markets."
Health-care reform is a hot topic, and Guthrie said the current legislation is not the end but just a beginning.
"The current bill passed by the Senate was just a series of deals to get a bill out so they could move on to the next step and go to conference committee," he said. "That bill was just a process to move on to the next step.
"I think it has to be replaced and changed completely. We can make it cheaper and more affordable," he said.
Guthrie noted the $500 billion cut to Medicare and the possibly $300 million increase in Medicaid for Kentucky.
"There is fifty-four billion dollars in savings that can be created by tort reform that can help cover pre-existing conditions. It's estimated that we can cut seven to ten percent off of the current price right now," he said.
He also pointed out loopholes that individuals and businesses can use that would make paying fines less expensive than the actual insurance.
"Substantial changes have to be made in this state to comply by that 2012 deadline," he said. "The numbers haven't been finalized here, but I know in Virginia they have, and Medicaid has gone from 21 percent of their budget to 28 percent. Where's that seven percent going to be moved from."
Hears emergency workers' concerns
Guthrie spoke to the firefighters and answered a few questions from the heads of different departments in the county and surrounding areas.
The topics ranged from emergency personnel communication equipment to grants for emergency agencies and volunteer fire fighter retention.
Guthrie opened with the group by assuring them that grants were on the way to help with the purchase and maintenance of generators for emergency offices.
"It's important for emergency personnel to have generators to help," he said. "During the ice storm last year we learned that first hand. People were handing their lives over to you because it was so cold."
He told the group he hopes there will be help complying with the Project 25 and radio bandwidth changes.
"I'm against any unfunded mandates," he said. "If I'm back in office on November third, I'm going to start lobbying to get on the committee that deals with [those changes].
"If they're going to sell that bandwidth for commercial use, then that's [helping areas reach compliance with the radio bandwidth change] something that money could be used for."
He also spoke about his commitment to helping the police, fire fighters and emergency personnel.
"If I'm voting against something for firefighters or emergency personnel, that only means it's a part of something bigger that I just can't get behind," he said. "I'm always going to help these services as much as I can. Fire protection and services are something the people count on the government for, something they can't provide for themselves. Those are things that have to be done."