Nation faces 3 critical issues, Hill tells party faithfuls
The nation faces three critical issues that must be addressed, Ninth District Congressman Baron Hill, D-Seymour, told Democratic party faithfuls Saturday night at the annual Jefferson-Jackson Dinner.
Those are health care, global warming and Iraq, Hill told the crowd of just under 200 at North Harrison High School in Ramsey.
Hill said the last election, which put Democrats back in power in the House, showed: ‘People are expecting this country to move forward in a different direction, and they expect the Democrats to get it done.’
The high cost of health care must be addressed, he said. ‘Forty-seven million Americans have no health insurance,’ Hill said, adding employers who not long ago could cover 100 percent of health insurance premiums for their employees along with partial coverage for their families are being forced to drop at least part of that coverage due to rising costs of premiums. ‘We have to do something about this, folks.’
Hill suggests creating a bi-partisan committee to work out the problems, which he said could only begin to be addressed by excluding insurance and pharmaceutical companies from the decision-making process. ‘People with a vested interest don’t want change,’ Hill said.
Hill said he will introduce legislation calling for a Constitutional Amendment to make health care a right of every American citizen.
The problems associated with global warming are serious and must be addressed or future generations will find a different world, Hill said, pointing to melting glaciers as proof. He recommended seeing former Vice President Al Gore’s Oscar-winning documentary on global warming to understand the problems.
‘We have got to take better care of God’s green Earth,’ Hill said. ‘He created it; we’ve got to take care of it.’
A bill addressing global warming is expected to be introduced this summer, he said.
(Several committees are currently working on such legislation, including two on which Hill serves: The Energy and Commerce Committee and the Science and Technology Committee.)
Hill also said it is time to bring the troops home from Iraq and its warring factions. ‘Iraq is a mess,’ Hill said.
Democrats in the nation’s capital have submitted a ‘dignified proposal’ to the president to move toward withdrawing, with set timetables for withdrawals, Hill said, adding that’s the ‘right thing to do.’
Hill received applause throughout his talk, which ended with a standing ovation.
Following a resounding victory in 2006, in which Democrats won back control of the council and the commissioners, the Harrison County Democrat Central Committee showed unity in numbers Saturday night at the Jefferson-Jackson Dinner.
‘I’ve counted from 185 to 190 people here tonight, and this is an off-election year,’ said State Rep. Paul Robertson, D-Depauw, speaking from the podium. ‘That is really, really good.’
To loud applause, Robertson reminded the audience that change in Statehouse politics has been good for Harrison County.
With the Democrats now in the majority in the Indiana House, ‘There’s not been one word ‘ not one move ‘ to take riverboat money away from Harrison County,’ Robertson said.
And he said the change in Congress has been good for most people. ‘Democrats care about what happens to the ordinary citizen,’ Robertson said, quoting former Congressman Lee Hamilton.
Robertson added: ‘Congress is no longer a rubber stamp for (President) George W. Bush.’
Robertson predicts this legislative session will accomplish several goals, including adopting a balanced budget that will fund all-day kindergarten and property tax relief.
Pumping up the crowd for the upcoming presidential primary, Robertson predicted Hillary Clinton would win if the primary were held today but wouldn’t finish well in Indiana; John Edwards would ‘play well in Harrison County and Indiana,’ and it may be too early to rule out the ‘odd man out,’ Robertson said. ‘Gore is trying to lose 40 pounds, and he’s going to the gym everyday.
‘I personally think Al Gore would play well in Harrison County and in Indiana,’ Robertson said.
There are three issues in that race, Robertson said. ‘Iraq, Iraq, Iraq.’
He urged Democrats not to rest on their laurels. ‘You’re only as good as the next election,’ he said.
Three deceased loyal Democrats were memorialized during the program: Edmund Green, Shirley Troncin and Mark Redden, the former Democratic chair who died of cancer a few days after last year’s election. His widow, the former Janice Gettelfinger, told the gathering that she believes her husband held on to see the outcome of the election. And he was not disappointed, she said.
Barbara Black, who served as Redden’s vice chair, replaced him as chair. She later was elected to lead the party in a Democratic caucus. She urged the group to continue working together in unity, as was Redden’s goal and is hers. ‘Next year, we’re going to take it all!’ she said of the 2008 election.
The invocation was given by Auditor Patricia Wolfe, who is in the midst of a serious battle with cancer. She prayed for God’s healing power over all.