Town meetings successful

Published 9:04 am Monday, March 5, 2007

By Staff
As you may know, I held 14 town hall meetings last month in all six counties of Alabama's First District. I would like to thank the many of you who came out to one or more of these meetings to visit with my staff and me. It was certainly good to see both familiar faces and meet so many new ones.
While some of you had concerns and questions of a personal nature, there were several issues that seemed to be raised in almost every meeting.
The topic of most interest seemed to be the Medicare prescription drug plan, which went into effect January of last year and has been more successful, more beneficial, and cheaper than first envisioned.
More than 38 million seniors have drug coverage today, and polls consistently show that 80 percent of those seniors enrolled are satisfied with their plan. In Alabama's First District, 81 percent of Medicare beneficiaries have enrolled in the program.
We have seen monthly premiums, which were projected to cost $37, average just $22, down from a monthly average of $23 last year. Seniors, on average, are saving $1,200 a year on their prescription drug bill. In fact, the most recent estimates from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services show that net Medicare costs are $189 billion lower than originally predicted when the benefit was created.
Many of you also voiced concerns on the non-binding Iraq resolution passed by the House last month. This resolution expressed disagreement over the president's troop surge plan. I certainly agree with so many of you who told me you felt this resolution sends the wrong message to our troops, their families, and our enemies.
I voted against this resolution, which doesn't have the force of law, provides no alternate strategy, and is silent with regard to our country's ongoing efforts in fighting the global war on terror.
The American commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus, who just received an overwhelming vote of confidence when he was unanimously confirmed by the United States Senate, has expressed his belief that this type of resolution will encourage our enemy.
He assured us that in order to succeed in the mission to secure Baghdad - all of the additional 21,500 troops ordered by the president are &#8220essential.” He said he &#8220would not be able to do his job” without these additional forces.
To vote in favor of this demoralizing and destructive resolution would have been a vote to make the jobs of the 140,000 brave men and women fighting in Iraq even more difficult.
At many meetings, I heard concerns over the number of illegal immigrants entering the United States each day.
In a nutshell, it is my firm belief that we must stop illegals from coming into the United States in the future - not enhance their ability to enter the country and &#8220fast track” their path to citizenship.
These town meetings were just the first series of town meetings for the year, and I plan to continue holding telephone town hall meetings throughout the year as well.
Jo Bonner represents the Brewton area in the U.S. House of Representatives.

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