Thompson: Shutdown, budget cuts could hurt Warren County

Published 11:32 am Wednesday, August 13, 2014

With the possibility of another government shutdown looming next spring, Warren County has a lot to lose, U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson told members of the National Association of Retired Federal Employees on Tuesday.

“The price of being the No. 1 democracy is going to force us to look at home and balance the budget,” said Thompson, D-Bolton, who represents Mississippi’s Second Congressional District.

The federal government shut down Oct. 1 and re-opened Oct. 17 after a partisan fight over the debt ceiling. Warren County has more federal employees and receives more federal funds than any of the 26 counties that make up the congressional district, Thompson said.

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Thompson voted against the shutdown last October and said he would not support a shutdown when Congress again tackles the debt ceiling.

“I was the only person in our delegation who voted against our government not working,” Thompson said.

The current debt limit deal in Congress expires March 15.

Thompson said he also plans to support continuing federal pensions at their current levels and opposing the privatization of Social Security.

“Some in Washington want to put Social Security in the private sector. That means your benefits are paid to the stock market. When the stock market is down, you lose all your benefits,” he said.

Thompson also vowed to continue his support for the Affordable Care Act and said he would continue to encourage Gov. Phil Bryant to expand Medicaid.

“We lost $426 million last year because we didn’t expand Medicaid. We’re going to lose $426 million this year because we didn’t expand Medicaid,” Thompson said. “The hospitals, including River Region, are saying they need the money because (people) are still going to get sick.”

The congressman also touched briefly on other hot-button issues such as renewed U.S. air strikes in Iraq, which he said he supports, and immigration reform.

“I kind of sympathize with them, but I still want them to be here legally,” Thompson said of immigrants who have come to the country illegally.

Rather than grant immediate amnesty as some Democrats have suggested, Thompson said he supports a longer “path to citizenship,” in which immigrants work and pay taxes before eventually earning citizenship rights.