The Herald Mail
U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa., toured a Con-way Freight facility in Greencastle on Friday, fielding questions from employees during the company’s employee appreciation week.
Before he addressed the 100 employees assembled in the break room, Shuster clarified his job description.
“I’m the chief customer-service representative to the federal government. So, if you’ve got a problem with the government — that’s what I do for those of you who live in Pennsylvania in the 9th (Congressional) District. I’m your customer-service representative,” Shuster said.
He said interacting with his constituents is an important part of his job.
“It’s extremely important in the representative democracy that we live in that people — the voters, the citizens — have access to their elected officials,” he said. “It’s an important role that you have to do here in the type of government we have.”
With a limited time and a lot of topics to discuss, Shuster covered health care, the state of the economy and the future of Social Security and Medicare.
“The most important thing is how do we create jobs? The president, I think he means well, but I think he’s going in the wrong direction; raising taxes on people in this country is going to cause them to invest less and have less opportunity to create jobs,” he said. “So, that’s really one of the big fights that’s occurring in Washington right now.
“At a time when we have over 9 percent unemployment in this country, we’ve got to get people back to work. I think that should be the top priority. Not some of these other programs that are out there.”
Con-way employee Ray Thielenhouse asked Shuster about whether the federal government would consider returning the power to regulate weight and length limits on trucks to the states.
“I believe it should be left up to the states to decide what the weights of their roadways,” Shuster said.
Thielenhouse would like to see the weight increase on the trailer.
“We would be able to move more freight. It would be more economical, and we would spend less fuel and put fewer trucks on the street. It would benefit everybody,” he said.
“I’ve been a supporter of the last 10 years to raise that weight limit which is pretty controversial. The real problem, and a concern for me, is what it does to the bridges — the roadways I think it’s pretty clear that when you spread the weight out … over more axles it doesn’t do any more damage — but the bridges we have to be real concerned about,” Shuster said.
“What is the future of Medicare and Social Security?” Thielenhouse asked.
“If we don’t do anything, Social Security and Medicare in the very near future they are both headed towards bankruptcy. Medicare has a bigger problem than Social security,” Shuster said. “Our proposal (for Medicare) is anybody 55 years and older, there is not going to be a change that would be immoral. Our proposal is if you are 54 and younger, in a gradual way we’re going to have to make changes in the program, because if we don’t, it’s just not going to be there.”
Con-way driver sales representative Rick Wagner asked about the status of the stimulus package that was intended to help the infrastructure.
“Most of that money has gone out. The proof is in the pudding that of the $900 billion, probably $700 billion or so is actually been out there and is working dollars, (and) it hasn’t generated the economic recovery the president said,” Shuster said.
Shuster’s childhood friend and Con-way driver lead Don “Murph” Giffin of St. Thomas, Pa., wanted to know if there was a way to get Obama health care repealed.
“Short of electing someone new into the White House you’re not going to see that repealed. If he (Obama) is there, we’re going to get health care that he’s proposed, and it’s going to cost us a lot of money,” Shuster said. “And I believe over time it’s going to decrease the quality of health care we have in this country. I say it because of what’s happening in Europe and Canada.”
Giffin, who grew up in Everett, Pa., about a mile from Shuster, said they hung out together as kids.
“We played football together. I swam in their pool. They played basketball on our court,” Giffin said.
He said Shuster is still the same down-to-Earth person he knew as a kid.
“It (visiting with constituents) is something normal that he does. It is right down his alley being so down to Earth. He’s always been grounded and down to Earth. So, this is right down his alley,” said Giffin.
Giffin and his wife have lived in Shuster’s district for the past 12 years, and he gives the congressman high praise.
“I think he’s doing a great job. His emphasis has always been the roads in his district. As far as what he’s done for his district I’d definitely give him two thumbs up,” Giffin said.
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