Ohio State Representative Kyle Koehler speaks with United States Representative Warren Davidson. In the background is Mrs. Lisa Davidson with Mrs. Kathrin Koehler. ANDY GRIMM | PHOTO

The Enon Eagle / New Carlisle News recently conducted a phone interview with 8th District Congressman Warren Davidson to discuss education, health care, the EPA and entitlement programs. Constituents from the area provided input on the topics that were high on their need to know list.

Davidson did not shy away from sharing his feelings about public education although he noted that he had not read the bill. The proposal in Congress would eliminate the Elementary Education Act of 1965. Among some of the educational programs currently in place that the new bill if passed would eliminate include equal opportunity for struggling learners, AP classes and English as a second language courses. These are just some of the mandated programs that are currently a large part of everyday learning in public schools in our area.

The Congressman noted that very little with respect to education should be decided at the federal level. He stated that the constitution does not dictate curriculum and that parents need to speak up in the local community for the programs they wish to see in place. Davidson suggested that education programs should be dictated by each state or local community saying “we don’t need the federal government to tell us how to run a state”. His comments during the question on education indicate that he is willing to support the elimination of the Department of Education at the federal level leaving districts and perhaps states to return to a case by case basis on how to support the increasing number of students in the classroom with special needs. The idea of each state having a different curriculum did not appear to concern Davidson.

The top question on the minds of those who suggested questions for the interview was the Affordable Care Act (ACA). With limited time for the interview the focus of the question asked involved the portion of the act known as The Patient Protection Act (PPA). An estimated 446,000 constituents in the 8th District with employer provided health insurance would lose protection against discrimination for pre-existing conditions if the PPA were to be eliminated by a vote of Congress.

Davidson explained that although he supports a one hundred percent repel of the ACA, he does agree that three things need to remain in effect to protect individuals. Davidson said that he supports keeping the portion of the PPA that protects those with pre-existing conditions from being denied insurance coverage. He supports children being able to remain on their parent’s health insurance beyond the age of 18 but does not necessarily agree with the age of 26. He suggested that unless there is an overriding health condition, an individual in their twenties should seek their own insurance. Regarding lifetime limits on insurance coverage, Davidson noted that the states should take initiatives with providers of insurance to assure that the lifetime or annual limits are not in place. “No one should go bankrupt for health care” said Davidson. Prior to the ACA, sixty percent of bankruptcy filings were related to health care expenses.

The PPA currently prevents insurance companies from dropping patients from an insurance plan for any reason other than fraud. Davidson supported keeping this provision stating that insurance companies should not be able to do this.

It should be noted that our interview took place just prior to the release by House Speak Paul Ryan of the ACA replacement now being considered by Congress. We did however talk about the most critical patient protection currently in place which is part of the reform being discussed.

Recent developments on the former Muncy Corporation property in Enon involving the well fields and the Tremont City Landfill project to clean up the toxic waste has involved the services of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) We asked Davidson is he supports eliminating the EPA at the federal level. Davidson noted that he would like to see a restructuring of the agency dedicated to clean air and water but did not support eliminating the agency at this time.

Local residents living on a fixed income from Social Security and those using the Medicare health system expressed concerns regarding the use of the words “entitlement programs” used by many politicians in Washington in their comments on the interview. We asked Davidson if he agrees that the programs that individuals paid in to during their working years are in fact “entitlement programs”. He explained that in his thinking the word “entitlement” suggests that if you paid for it, you are “entitled” to receive the benefits. Noting that he has been paying into Social Security his entire working life, Davidson stated that “every single person who paid in is entitled to it”. He sees both Social Security and Medicare as programs that need to be watched carefully due to the over spending from the accounts. He suggested that America needs to be very careful related to any new programs and that the system cannot default on the program.

Davidson suggested that the government must consider restructuring the programs to assure that the benefits will be there for future generations. He compared Social Security restructure to the state retirement and teacher retirement programs in Ohio that had to be restructured due to overspending in the past to assure that those who paid in would receive a retirement benefit. He went on to explain that he does not agree with providing benefits to anyone who has not paid into the Social Security system. He noted that those who saved for retirement via the Social Security system over their working years should not be punished for being responsible citizens in paying their annual dues.

Davidson believes in a “Constitutional Government”. He would like to see a restoration of authority to the Congress that is provided under the constitution. He noted that he sees the executive orders being signed by Trump as a reversal of executive orders that were signed by Obama and that they need to be followed up with legislation.

He believes that Congress must develop a “coherent policy on war” so that it is clear who sends the county to war if it becomes necessary. When asked about who is watching the current escalation of aggressive behavior by the North Koreans, Davidson stated that it is the responsibility of the executive branch however Congress is paying attention.

The Congressman has introduced legislation that would not permit members of Congress to have better health care benefits than those provided to the nation’s veterans. His plan would improve veteran’s benefits and health care.

When asked about the I-70 corridor in our area that is yet to be completed to three lanes, Davidson suggested that the State of Ohio should be responsible for the improvements using the block grant funding made available from the federal budget. He also noted that thirty percent of the fuel tax is used for alternative transportation improvements such as recreational trails.

One of the key points that Davidson made near the end of our interview is that he does not want to see America go bankrupt due to over promising of programs. He noted that originally thirty percent of the budget was dedicated to “mandatory spending”. He went on to state that one third of the budget is for discretionary spending however the United States is headed to having one hundred percent of the budget dedicated to mandatory spending.

Davidson explained that he does not plan to host a town hall meeting within the district due to a group known as “Indivisible” creating disruptions. He does however have staff that takes calls to his offices and documents the concerns and needs of his constituents. He noted that twenty seven events were held recently throughout the district and that plans involve additional events in April and August.

Constituents can follow the Congressman on Facebook or his website davidson.house.gov. Staff will be at the Enon Government Center the fourth Tuesday of each month from 2:45 – 3:15 to meet with constituents. The Springfield office is open each week from 8:30 until 1:30 on Tuesday and Thursday. The office is located at 76 E. High Street on the third floor.

Clarification: The Enon Eagle and New Carlisle News confirmed that Congressman Warren Davidson will be hosting a number of events in his district this year. His staff has not announced the type of events, however we are assure that a complete list will be available on the web page or social media pages as they become available.

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