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Wicked Local Saugus: At Town Hall, Rep. Moulton Calls for More Bipartisan Efforts

May 9th, 2017

By: Wendall Waters

Congressman Seth Moulton (D-MA) didn’t mince words on Saturday. The chances of getting bipartisan work done in Washington right now may be slim to none, he said, but lawmakers and citizens have to keep pushing to make it happen. And, his message resonated.

During a packed town hall meeting at North Andover Middle School, Moulton fielded questions from a largely supportive audience about climate change, healthcare and regulations. One woman, a veteran who is now a graduate student at UMass, occasionally yelled, “Run for governor,” while another countered with, “Run for president.”

While Moulton made it clear he opposes many things Republicans are doing, especially on healthcare and the economy, he also noted that the Democratic Party is in need of an overhaul.

“I believe that some of the things the president is doing are uniquely dangerous to our country,” Moulton said, “and so my first priority since the election has been standing up to President Trump.”

But, he followed that with, “The second thing I’m trying to do is reform the Democratic Party because I think Democrats have to come to terms with the fact that we lost in the last election. We clearly lost touch with a lot of people in America. And, rather than just blame other people, we have to look ourselves in the mirror and say we have to do a better job of standing up for working people.”

And, in a nod to Trump supporters and independents in the audience, Moulton said, “It’s fundamental to my job that I’m a representative for all of you, no matter who you voted for, no matter what your party label is, or if you have no party label at all, as actually the majority of our district does. I’m your representative and I won’t lose sight of that.”

Healthcare

Moulton said someone recently tweeted at him, “Mr. Moulton, did you read the bill before you voted,” referring to the healthcare bill that narrowly passed the House last week and is headed for the Senate. Moulton said the answer to the question is “no” because he wasn’t given an opportunity to read it. The bill went to the floor without a single hearing, he said.

When Moulton detailed what the bill in its current form could mean for Americans – such as a 64-year-old woman’s premiums going from $1,700 to $14,600 per year – some in the audience gasped.

In addition, many pre-existing conditions and some services for women, such as the delivery of a baby, won’t necessarily be covered, or covered so minimally that they would be cost-prohibitive.

“The Republicans have made being a woman a pre-existing condition,” he said. “In the Republican view of the world, men don’t have anything to do with pregnancy.”

Moulton said, “The legislative process is a process of compromise, but there just isn’t much of anything in the bill to compromise on.”

Regulations

What about Trump’s efforts to roll back Dodd-Frank consumer protections?

“I think it moves our country in the wrong direction, not very long after the massive financial crisis of 2008,” Moulton said. “I mean, you’d think we’d be able to remember back to 2008, and yet there seems to be some amnesia going on.”

Dodd-Frank isn’t perfect, Moulton said, but improving it is a more sensible idea than just doing away with it.

“One idea that Republicans, I think, are right on is that some regulations are not necessary,” Moulton said.

Small business owners know that all too well, he said.

“I am an advocate for regulatory reform, but regulatory reform isn’t regulatory evisceration, isn’t throwing these things out the window that are designed to protect consumers, like all of us.”

Bipartisan efforts

A man stood up and asked if there was any hope of bi-partisan work on climate change.

“I’m a proud member of the Bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus and what’s significant about the caucus is that you can’t join as a Democrat unless you get a Republican to come with you,” Moulton said. “And, that matters because we have to have a bipartisan approach to this problem. Ozone doesn’t flow just into certain homes.”

However, Moulton said, the reality is that there probably won’t be progress until some balance is restored on Capital Hill, which means the Democrats have to take the House back in 2018.

It’s telling, Moulton said, that one of the only bipartisan bills to pass under the new administration is the Modernizing Government Travel Act, which is on the president’s desk now. The bill, which Moulton co-sponsored with Congressman Will Hurd (R-TX), will allow federal employees to be reimbursed for ride sharing services such as Uber, Lyft, and bike-share programs they use while on official business.

The audience

Danvers residents Lindsey Wilson and Rebecca DeCoff were two of many people who lined up in the hallway after the meeting for a chance to shake Moulton’s hand.

“I’m super happy to hear he’s bipartisan,” Wilson said.

The social work student said she compares the dynamics in Congress to those in a family. If the parents aren’t getting along, everyone is affected. She said she’s glad to know Moulton is working on reuniting Democrats and Republicans.

DeCoff, who grew up in Middleton, said, “I was a little disheartened to hear there’s nothing they can do about climate change.”

But, like Wilson, she said she appreciates Moulton’s bipartisan efforts.

North Andover resident Phyllis Jones said she remembers the times when politicians worked together, when there was some semblence of coming to an agreement, some semblence of working together. Not enough people remember that, she said.

And, she pointed out, “We’re not all Democrat or Republican.”

Haverhill resident and veteran Miranda Kocher, who grew up in Pennsylvania, said she has seen first hand how Republicans and Democrats can work together. Republican Senator Rick Santorum was good friends with her grandfather. So, she, too, said she appreciates that Moulton, an Iraq War veteran, is reaching across the aisle.

Kocher said that when a person dons a military uniform, it doesn’t matter who he or she is. The mission is what matters.

“I know that’s where he got it,” she said.

Full article here.

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