Valorie Eversole Daily Union Editor
Shelbyville Daily Union
---- — During a recent visit to Shelbyville, U.S. Congressman John Shimkus answered a few questions on recent issues facing the nation.
On Russia's movement on the Ukraine:
Shimkus, calling on his knowledge of Eastern Europe, said he does not believe the sanctions Obama has imposed on Vladmir Putin and the Russian government will have much effect on Russia's advances on the Ukraine.
"There's not a lot we can do. We can impose economic sanction and tighten them down, I don't think Putin cares," Shimkus said.
Shimkus, whose family background is Lithuanian, served three years on the Czech-German border, did policy issues on the eastern European border, observed a stolen election in Belarus, and just came back from a presidential election in Georgia. He has studied the political front of Eastern Europe.
"I don't this the Ukraine wants our presence. I think they like our moral support. I think they want to look west. They want to sign this trade agreement with the European Union. We just have to be there for them," he said.
"We can can encourage the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to consider offering the Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova a membership action plan (MAP). This is just a guideline on how these countries need to transform their governments to be considered for NATO admission. They have to transform their military, their judiciary, their economy, they've got to be more transparent and open. It's a long process."
Shimkus said he was not surprised at the overwhelming vote in Crimea to return to Russia.
"We don't know how legitimate it (the vote) is. There's this Russian pride of going back to the Czarist regimes, the Soviet Union, and the overwhelming desire to rebuild their empire, which they feel is crumbling away from them. And Crimea is different from the eastern part of the Ukraine."
He noted that Crimea is more closely associated with Russia than the Ukraine is and there are Russian military installations on their peninsula.
Shimkus said he doesn't think our presence in the Ukraine, militarily or as peacemakers, would help the situation.
"I don't think the Ukrainians want us there. It would just inflame Russia. I don't think U.S. presence in the Ukraine would ease tensions. They are not a NATO country. If they were, we would be bound by a treaty to become involved."
On the Budget:
"There is a debate whether we should need to pass a budget this year. The Senate is not going to pass a budget. In the budget agreement last year, we really set the numbers for the next two years," Shimkus said. "If the Senate's not going to pass a budget, why would we go through the motions."
Shimkus said the two-year agreement would avoid any government shutdowns during that time.
"We set a budget and a spending bill for last year. We have a budget for this year, now we need to pass a spending bill."
On the American Healthcare Act (Obamacare):
Shimkus said the 30-hour work week, full-time employee requirement for small businesses needs to be addressed.
"The problem with doing any reforms is the Senate won't take them up and the President won't sign the bill," Shimkus said.
Referring to a news story, Shimkus said the insurance companies look at their incomes and expenses this year and what they need to adjust to still be in business for next cycle
"Many people have found their premiums doubled under Obamacare and the story suggests they'll go up even more because they are having trouble getting people to sign up into the system. And those people will eventually get charged a penalty if the IRS catches up to them. Most of those people can pay the $95 penalty, but each year the penalty will increase."
"We do not believe we see the light at the end of the tunnel yet, where this health care law is fully functional highly competitive and you have high quality and low cost. We're concerned we will be in this position that we will be paying more and getting less."
"There's only a small sliver of people who now have access and they're the working poor, the Medicaid expansion. Everybody else will be paying more."
With the March 31 deadline looming, Shimkus said the government won't release the number of enrollees in the healthcare system. The government has a goal of 7 million enrollees by March 31.
"Just because people signed up doesn't mean they actually have it and have paid, and they won't tell us how many actually have paid."
Addresssing Obama's executive actions (changes) on healthcare, Shimkus explained that most conservatives are strict constructionists, believing that the law should be executed as written.
"Liberals will argue you have to change the law to faithfully execute the entire law"
In looking at the fall elections, Shimkus said he believes Obamacare is the main factor - how satisfied or dissatisfied the people are with the program and the failure of liberalism and centralized control.