Paul Ryan's mobile office is on the road again
By John Ziegler, Milton CourierRep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) stopped in Milton Monday as part of his mobile office tour, two weeks after his latest round of listening sessions in six communities across Wisconsin's first congressional district.
"We had great turn out at those," Ryan said. "The turn out is getting bigger and bigger every year, and it is great to see citizens participating."
Ryan said most constituents have the federal government's fiscal situation on their minds when they talk with him.
"The big theme I am hearing is anxiety surrounding government fiscal policy," Ryan said. "People are concerned about our budget and our debt. There are some individual questions about energy policy, high gas prices and those sorts of things, as well as questions about President Obama's health care law. But overall, there is a lot of economic anxiety."
The mobile office mission
Although Ryan is often in the headlines for his work on the House Budget Committee, his work assisting constituents with issues they may be having with federal agencies is what puts his mobile office on the road. For example, a constituent who is having a problem with their social security benefits could contact Congressman Ryan's office, and his staff would work with the Social Security Administration to resolve the issue.
"If somebody has a problem with a federal agency, they can come to us for help," Ryan said. "Each year we help thousands of people deal with issues related to Medicare, Social Security, immigration, all sorts of issues. A huge part of my job is being an advocate for people who are having trouble with a federal agency."
Ryan has offices in Janesville, Kenosha, and Racine, but he mentioned that the mobile office improves the ability of constituents to access his staff.
"The mobile office gives people - especially seniors - who cannot make it to our offices a chance to meet our staff, bring in their paperwork, and see if we can help," Ryan said. "Constituents can bring their paperwork to our mobile office, [staff member] Rick [Jacobson] will photocopy it and have them sign a privacy form that allows us to work on their behalf, and then our staff will go to work on that problem."
The mobile office will be in Milton on Wednesday, June 6, from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. The office will be parked at 120 Parkview Drive, across from the police department.
On the policy side, fiscal issues continue to dominate congressional attention. Ryan, as chairman of the House Budget Committee, often finds himself in the midst of the debate, and that was the case last week as a bill he authored, H.R. 5652, the Sequester Replacement Reconciliation Act, passed the House 218-199. Last summer, in order to raise the federal debt ceiling, Congress passed the Budget Control Act that included $1.2 trillion in automatic cuts over the next decade if other, equivalent cuts are not identified. This year, those cuts would be 8 percent to domestic spending and 10 percent to the Pentagon budget, for a combined total of $110 billion.
To avoid that 10 percent cut to the Pentagon, Ryan's bill would make cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (commonly referred to as "Food Stamps"), Medicaid spending, and funding to implement President Obama's health care law.
"[The 10 percent cut to the Pentagon budget] will really jeopardize our military at a time when we are at war, and so last week the House passed a bill with alternate cuts to prevent that sequester," Ryan said. "Instead of general, across-the-board cuts, we think Congress should be responsible and make specific cuts. That is what the Budget Control Act instructed us to do, and that is what our bill does."
Ryan's bill stands little chance of passing the Democrat-controlled Senate and being signed into law by President Obama. Gridlock and fierce partisanship have become the norm over the past few years in Washington.
"If you lead and if you act, you need someone willing to work with you," Ryan said. "We are required by law to pass a budget every year, and the Senate has refused to do that the past two years. That brings the system to a halt."