Announcements and Reminders
Soquel Interact Club will have their annual golf tournament May llth. For more information google Soquel High School Fund /Annual Golf Tournament.
The 2018 district conference is June 1st 2nd and 3rd in San Jose. You can sign up at the district website.
Next week there is a board meeting at 11:00.
On May 24th we will not be meeting here. We are going off site to the Museum of Telephony off Rodeo Gulch Rd. Sign up to go.
Our speaker today was Congressman Jimmy Panetta from the 20th Congressional District. He serves on the Ag Committee and its Nutrition and Horticultural research subcommittees as well as the House Armed Services Committee. He is the co-founder of the National Security Task Force and served on the board of the National Marine Sanctuary.
Congressman Panetta spoke about the level of confusion in the federal government at this point including things being said and things being tweeted, both substantiated and unsubstantiated. He said it can get confusing and it truly is an unprecedented time.
         He spoke about the fight over the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Here on the central coast it dropped the rate of uninsured from 19% to 9% uninsured but he knows it is expensive and there is a lot of paperwork.  He quoted part of a speech by John McCain about how the unprecedented rise in congressional partisanship and the need to learn to trust each other again.  
He then went on to speak about tax reform. He said it has helped some people and lowered corporate tax rates, but is not helpful here where we need the deductions that have been eliminated. With this act, the deficit will increase to 1.5 trillion and 30 million will be added to the debt.  He noted it was passed with no hearings.
         He spoke about his work on the Ag Committee in getting the farm bill passed. He explained that 80 % of the farm bill goes to food stamps (SNAP). The farm bill was passed out of committee this year, but with different work requirements for (SNAP) recipients. No democrats voted for it
         Coming up this year, he does not see that congress is likely to pass anything on immigration or infrastructure or other big issues. However he does feel more optimistic about a bipartisan approach towards veterans. The Forever GI bill has been passed saying you can take advantage of your benefits forever. They passed a Clear Choice act so Veterans can get private care if they are far from a VA facility, a better appeal process for denials and support for small veteran’s owned businesses.
Panetta said it is time to get things done and time for us to work together and that is why he makes an effort to support bipartisan efforts and caucuses. He said there are areas that reform of the ACA both democrats and Republicans agree on as well as Dreamers issues (DACA) and border security. He has served on task forces that have come up with a set of principles that have been used in debating these bills.
         The climate solution caucus is another example of a bipartisan Caucus where Democrats and Republicans get together and talk about climate change.  He said it takes both sides coming to the table and that is what he will continue to do.
         He talked about being an ‘average congressman’ and how he doesn’t wish to be one. As his father said to him, “Jimmy, it’s fun to get s…t done.”
         He then quoted French President Macron who said our strength comes from our ability to finish furthering our unfinished experiment… democracy. He also quoted a Walt Whitman poem that said there are first class men and women everywhere who are capable of governing themselves and yearn to serve others and stressed that our democracy has to be earned. He said there are men and women in Washington DC who are constantly reminded of our service to our country.      
         The session concluded with a lively discussion on several issues, including immigration, war memorials, office budgets and homelessness.