Congressman Whitfield's Monthly Column
February 1, 2005
As 2005 begins and a new Congress convenes in Washington, I wanted to inform you of the many important issues the 109th Congress will debate and, hopefully, be able to reach agreement on. With President Bush's re-election, our country is experiencing the rare occurrence of back-to-back two term Presidents. This continuity will allow Congress and the administration to immediately begin work on numerous challenges that face our nation.
One of the top priorities will be shoring-up Social Security to ensure that important program is solvent and strong for our children and grandchildren as it was for our parents. As the Baby-Boom generation moves toward retirement, many of our social services will be subjected to greater demand than ever before and ways for them to adapt to the increased volume must be explored. In addition, making sure our troops have the equipment, training and support they need to win the war on terror and usher Iraq further down the path of freedom and democracy will also top Congress's priority list. These two challenges are especially vexing considering the fact that our nation needs fiscal constraint to reduce the escalating deficit and strengthen the weak dollar, both of which threaten our long-term economic stability.
There are numerous other areas that Congress must devote a great deal of attention and effort to during the next two years. Medicare, affordable health care for all citizens, protecting morals in our society, continued economic growth, medical malpractice reform, and integrity in government to name a few.
At home in the First District, we continue to enjoy economic recovery from the previous recession. Kentucky's unemployment rate fell to a four-year low of 4.5%. This figure is down 1.5% from 6.0% in October of 2003. In addition, the national unemployment rate declined to 5.4% in November, which was down from 5.9% in November, 2003. While we have more work to do to further lower the unemployment rate, I believe we are moving in the right direction. I have met with many local leaders throughout the District who are constantly working to attract new businesses and industries to the area. This aggressive recruitment has landed a number of new plants and facilities throughout the First District. However, there are still many areas that are not seeing a net gain of jobs and need assistance in boosting the local economy.
As your federal representative, I am doing what I can to provide assistance to those who have lost their jobs as well as exploring ways the federal government can help with job creation. However, most of that responsibility falls to local economic development agencies as well as the State. One of the biggest attractions for businesses to locate in a particular area is the tax benefit the company can receive. These tax benefits can only be given by local and State governments.
It is an honor and privilege to represent you in Washington and I take that tremendous responsibility seriously everyday. Please contact me through any of my offices in Kentucky or Washington if I can assist you in any way. In addition, I have a toll free number, 1-800-328-5629, that you can call at any time.