Michigan’s 3rd District Congressman Justin Amash held a town hall meeting Friday in Hastings, answering questions from the crowd well past the allotted time of noon to 1 p.m.
Here are some of Amash’s thoughts and beliefs in response to questions.
The effort to replace the Affordable Care Act, or Obama care, and the American Health Care Act, the republican version, will take more time and will have to be done one piece at a time. The republican revision was a marginal improvement, chipping away at the basic premise, he said, but that and other legislation that needs improvements will have to be done incrementally. “I have to operate every day as if almost every piece of legislation is done in increments.” He suggested starting over with states having their own ACA programs but, if it’s still going to be a federal program, “it should be a very different model.”
The Mueller investigation into Russian meddling in the last election should continue to its conclusion. “It should proceed. There's no reason to stop it…No one knows the outcome. If the president is not guilty, we can more forward,” he said.
He has sponsored a federal law to do away with asset forfeiture allowing the government to take a person’s property without them being arrested or charged. It violates the due process clause in the U.S. Constitution, he said.
The Import Export Board that uses taxpayer money to back loans for huge companies, “which is cronyism and corporate welfare...should be done away with.” He supports reviewing all government agencies with the intent to cut them if they aren’t effective.
Amash supports work for welfare programs. As for subsides, “I would do away with all of them if I could.”
Condemning the KKK, white supremacist and Nazis, he said everyone should work to put an end to it, including the Department of Justice, but he supported free speech. “We have freedom of speech and all speech has to be allowed. Even hateful and evil speech has to be resolved peacefully.” Also, he said, racism is a societal problem that won’t be solved by government. “The government can’t stop the hate in their hearts.” It will be ended by the people speaking out against it, he said.
He would prohibit selling “cluster” weapons to foreign countries. “We need to watch the sales of arms to places like Saudi Arabia.”
Better information is needed on biometrics before it goes into effect; how they would use and keep the data learned by using face recognition on American citizens at airports, he said.
When Republicans took over congress and presidency, he thought that spending would go down; it has gone up. And, it is no better with House Speaker Paul Ryan as leader, he said. Amash pointed to a part of the political system that should be changed; the house of representative leadership passing legislation by trickery and manipulation instead of following procedures to respond to the will of the people, not fellow politicians or parties.
The only cure for that is replacing the leadership positions with those who would follow procedures.
Asked if he would run for speaker, Amash smiled and said he wasn’t making an announcement but, “I think I would make a good speaker.”
Amash warned of severe changes in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits later if congress doesn’t make changes to the programs now. People are living longer, having fewer children and the programs are “not sustainable.”
It is also critical that the federal debt, interest on the debt and military spending be trimmed, he said.
“These are the most important issues for the overall, long term health of our country…we should work together as Republicans and Democrats; there are no guarantees on the outcomes, but it will more closely reflect the will of the people.”
Photos: (upper left) 3rd District Congressman Justin Amash represents residents in all or parts of Barry, Calhoun, Kent, Ionia and Montcalm counties.
(left) Congressman Justin Amash talks to residents after a town hall meeting in Hastings Friday.