Last week in Carmichael was No. 65.
That is how many times I have scheduled and completed live Town Halls since I returned to Congress in 2005.
No matter what is going on in the world, in the nation or in the Third Congressional District I serve, I make it a point to meet face-to-face with my constituents so I can find out what is on their minds.
Though there were attempts by some to distort the information I wanted to convey in Elk Grove, Folsom and most recently in Carmichael, I must say that all attempts to disrupt or discourage my dialogue with constituents failed. (Click here to view my opinion piece on civility) To put it simply, the people who have attended consistently over the years are discerning and wise. I am proud, yet humbled at times, to be able to serve them and hear the truth they live.
My advice to our community to join in on an ongoing adult conversation about unbridled federal spending and the looming fiscal crisis it has created was received well. That is not to say everyone attending agreed with me, but I think we made progress in understanding the contrasting choices.
Some fair questions for all of us to consider moving forward: Do you or does the government know what is best for you? Does a limited or limitless government serve us best?
My listening sessions this month and in previous weeks were not limited to Town Halls. I met with dozens of business people at events and had many private meetings with people who risk everything to do business. Their risk has a ripple effect on our local economy by creating jobs, providing services and creating other businesses.
Intel Corp. employs more than 6,000 in Folsom, but just imagine how many other people are employed to provide the goods and services for the Intel workers.
A smaller scale example is what happened when the Toby Keith I Love This Bar and Grille opened at the evolving Palladio shopping district in Folsom.
Toby Keith management prefers its staff to dress in Western style clothing and that turned into a bit of a boom for Handley's Western and Work Wear down at the other end of Bidwell in Folsom.
Donella Handley, the 89-year-old matriarch who still comes to work every day, was delighted. During my conversation with her she simply pointed out that when the government gets out of everyone's hair and allows free enterprise to flourish, business will take care of itself and the community.
On Thursday I listened in on a panel at the Folsom Chamber of Commerce luncheon where the topic was the impact of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act on business, small business in particular.
The specter of complying with something that nobody has ever understood from the beginning is the large, large elephant in the room. One of the national retailers I visited said Obamacare could be the beginning of the end for employer-provided insurance. That flies in the face of the empty promise that we all could "keep our present insurance."
Why, you ask? It is simple, but profound math. Paying the "penalty" or "tax" for NOT providing insurance costs 10 times less than providing it. How long before businesses large and small retire their employee insurance plans and millions of people are herded toward bureaucratic government insurance exchanges?
Businesses with fewer than 50 employees will not be as severely impacted as those with 50 or more employees. So, what is the motivation for a business with 48 employees to expand?
This is why I continue to work toward the repeal and replacement of Obamacare. It is wrongheaded and needs to be replaced. My colleagues and I have plans to replace it.
As I contemplate my return to Washington, my notebook is full of ideas and concerns from my District Work Period. I am blessed to represent the best and brightest and I will carry their message to the Congress when it reconvenes.
Daniel E. Lungren
Member of Congress