Archive for Thursday, August 29, 2013

Jenkins meets with diverse groups during recess tour of her district

August 29, 2013


Wednesday began early for U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins, and it was a fairly typical day for a congresswoman back home from Washington, meeting constituents throughout the district during the August recess.

It started at 7:15 a.m. with a breakfast at a country club with the Ottawa Area Chamber of Commerce.

After a hearty buffet-style meal of biscuits and gravy, hash browns and fruit salad, the Republican congresswoman from Topeka stood before 60 or so local business leaders who gathered at the Ottawa Country Club to give one of her standard stump speeches about issues pending in Washington.

After nearly five years in Washington and many more as state treasurer and a state senator, Jenkins has learned to tailor her speech to each audience.

This one was given to a friendly crowd of local business leaders, in a county she carried with 70 percent of the vote in 2012. It focused in broad, general terms on the sources of the federal debt and deficit problems, and on the GOP budget plan that passed the House in March, but quickly died in the Democratic-controlled Senate.

And while Jenkins did not mention it, that is the source of a stalemate that, if not resolved when Congress returns next month, could lead to a shutdown of the federal government in October.

“If we maintain the status quo," Jenkins said, pointing to a line graph with a red-shaded area rising almost to infinity, "this is where our debt is headed, and what is causing a lot of Americans to lose sleep at night.”

This was not a campaign speech. There was barely any mention of “Republicans” or “Democrats,” nor any critical references to President Barack Obama that would normally pepper her stump speeches in an election year. Nor was there any mention of the Tea Party Caucus, of which Jenkins is a charter member.

Speaking to the base

Still, beneath the surface, there was an air of partisanship in her speech, even as she used inclusive words like “we” and “our” to talk about the budget priorities of the GOP majority in the House, and of the Tea Party Caucus, of which she is a founding member.

Jenkins quickly went through some of the highlights of the GOP budget that passed the House in March, but which died in the Senate — a combination of tax and spending reforms that Jenkins said would lead to a balanced federal budget in 10 years.

“How we get there is we just stop spending money on things the federal government shouldn't be spending money on,” Jenkins said. “Return to the states what they should have had jurisdiction over, return to the cities and counties what they should have had jurisdiction over.”

Specifically, she mentioned Medicaid, the joint federal and state health insurance program for the poor — “the poster child for a federal program that is run amok,” Jenkins said — which the House budget would turn into a block grant program to be managed entirely by states.

“The federal government really had no business ever taking that on,” she said. “So we would give the money that's currently coming to Kansans and we would send that to the state lawmakers and ask them to run the program,” Jenkins said.

One man in the audience suggested Congress should do even more to rein in Medicaid.

"I know of someone who would not — she has so many children, it would not pay her to go back to work," he said. "She makes too much money on welfare."

Switching gears in Lawrence

A few hours later, though, Jenkins was in Lawrence, the heart of Douglas County, which she lost in 2012, carrying less than 40 percent of the vote. Here, there was less talk about cutting back or eliminating government programs and more talk about ways government can do more or work better.

The first stop was the Bioscience and Technology Business Center on the Kansas University campus and one of the companies that now occupies space in the center, Argenta, a New Zealand-based firm specializing in animal health research.

The BTBC itself is a business incubation center that was launched by the Kansas Bioscience Authority, a quasi-public agency that receives both public and private money to foster bioscience businesses in Kansas.

Companies like Argenta that are housed there also gain access to a wide variety of state and federal assistance.

"I think it's a good reminder that we have to compete internationally on all fronts," Jenkins said of the public involvement in incubators like the BTBC. "In my role as a United States representative, I just think we need to help them be competitive on our soil."

From there, Jenkins went to a subsidized public housing project in Lawrence run by Tenants to Homeowners Inc., an agency that benefits from federal housing tax credits to build and manage affordable housing for low-income and disabled individuals.

"Americans are getting a huge return on their investment for putting a little bit of skin in the game to incentivize a public-private partnership like low-income housing," Jenkins said. "Otherwise you'd never get investors attracted to this sector."

Jenkins acknowledged that there are wide differences of opinion about the proper role of the federal government — and federal spending — in the U.S. economy.

"I think for me it's finding the appropriate level of government to serve the people, and what people want is return on their investment."


Richard Heckler 4 years, 6 months ago

Want smart economics? Replace Lynn Jenkins! Lynn Jenkins works for ALEC not Kansas or the USA.

Keith 4 years, 6 months ago

One man in the audience suggested Congress should do even more to rein in Medicaid.

"I know of someone who would not — she has so many children, it would not pay her to go back to work," he said. "She makes too much money on welfare."

I'm sure it was a friend of a friend, or a friend of a friend heard about it from a friend.

midwestmom 4 years, 6 months ago

How do I get off her 'junk call' list? It's infuriating!!!! Didn't vote for her - won't vote for her and I definitely don't want to hear her whiny, nasally voice on my phone during the dinner hour!!

Martin Hanna 4 years, 6 months ago

I replied to one of her mailings several years ago asking for a donation to her campaign. I wrote in red ink "remove my name and address from all mailing and calling lists". I haven't heard from her since! Give it a shot.

oldexbeat 4 years, 6 months ago

Dr Timmy (I'm the most overeducated farmer in Meade County, KS) Huelskamp has that same phone program and during dinner. You get on his list if you complain about anything to him -- you have to say yes to the list to send a message to 'your' congressman. sucks.

I'm beting that ALEC or like that is in the details of these phone programs. Timmy isn't that smart.

globehead 4 years, 6 months ago

Huelskamp is also most likely the biggest welfare recipient in Kansas via the crop subsidies he has received from the federal government.

newmedia 4 years, 6 months ago

Whether you agree with Rep. Jenkins or not at least she has the guts to hold "town hall" meetings and meet with her constituents during the congressional recess. Most of her colleagues are no where to be found. Can't imagine why that is..........

Shelley Bock 4 years, 6 months ago

She doesn't have the GUTS to visit Lawrence for a Town Hall meeting. She avoided meeting with her constituents in Lawrence, seeking only a friendly audience.

Michael LoBurgio 4 years, 6 months ago

Jenkins along with her other gop teaparty republicans house members has voted twice on the ryan bill to eliminate MEDICARE and MEDICAID.

House Republicans Vote to End Medicare, Again

Well, they did it again, passing yet another radical budget plan from Rep. Paul Ryan, this one cutting $4.6 trillion over the next ten years, turns Medicare into a voucher system and repeals Obamacare. Every Democrat, along with 10 Republicans, voted no in a 221-207 vote.

Two-thirds of Ryan's budget cuts come from low-income Americans -- programs like Medicaid and food stamps -- and gives millionaires a $200,000 tax cut.

Michael LoBurgio 4 years, 6 months ago

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cowboy 4 years, 6 months ago

Let congresswoman Jenkins hold a true town hall , LHS auditorium with open attendance not invited shills.Don't think it would have a happy ending.

sciencegeek 4 years, 6 months ago

Interesting how her concern jumped once sshe had a confirmed opponent. Not that I'm being cynical or anything...

Her robocalls annoty the heck out of me. If she remembered Kansas at all, she'd know that WE DON'T LIKE PHONE CALLS DURING THE DINNER HOUR! To do it consistently shows just how much respect she has for the foks back home.

BigDog 4 years, 6 months ago

Given today's society where people work a variety of hoursand shifts .... Can one of you tell me when "Dinner Hour" is?

blindrabbit 4 years, 6 months ago

When she delivered her comments, did you notice two others on the stage and podium? One was operating a set of strings causing the mechanical mouth movements of the clueless Jenkins, the other a nasalilly speaker that delivered the message. During the presentation a representative from Koch-a-Kola was there to keep the comments sufficiently compliant with their message.

Lynn Grant 4 years, 6 months ago

I don't care what time her robocalls come in, I don't want to listen to her and her tea party justifications for hurting US citizens.

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