Rep. Jodey Arrington responds to coronavirus, other voter concernswebmaster March 18, 2020 0 COMMENTS
By Gail M. Williams
Muleshoe Journal Correspondent
At a time when coronavirus fears top headlines from coast-to-coast, Rep. Jodey Arrington is covering his 29-county district and answering voters’ concerns.
Arrington ran against Vance Boyd in the Republican primary, winning by 89.5 percent of the vote. In the general election, he will face Abilene lawyer Tom Watson, Democrat, who ran unopposed in the Democratic primary. The general election is scheduled for Nov. 3.
Arrington has been a member of the House of Representatives since 2017.
In an interview with the Muleshoe Journal, Arrington emphasized the need for people to take reasonable precautions to prevent contraction of any virus, including SARS, MERS or the flu.
“While there are no cases in West Texas yet, we need to take reasonable precautions, especially if you’re part of a vulnerable population,” Arrington said.
Precautions include hand washing, using sanitizers, not touching your face or mouth with your hands and keeping a social distance of 10 feet away from others.
“The administration has done a great job of containment and mitigation where there have been cases,” Arrington said. “Coronavirus is no more widespread than any of the flu viruses, but we have to take it seriously while we’re waiting for pharmacies to develop vaccines and treatment. We need to use common sense and good hygiene.”
Arrington commented on the recent volatility of the stock market in connection with the coronavirus.
“Markets do not like uncertainty,” he said. “There has been a disruption in the supply chain in the way that all of our products are made or assembled, and certainly in the trade with the United States from China.”
Arrington said that while market uncertainty has been affected by the spread of the virus, “Some folks have been stoking the flame of fear and anxiety outside of what’s commensurate with the risk.
“While the markets are volatile, the fundamentals are very strong,” he said. “With tax cuts, regulatory relief and the new and improved trade deal, we’re in a good position to bounce back, to return to that trajectory of growth. When we get through the virus, with new treatments and vaccines, I think we’re going to see a big bounce back, with stronger growth in the near future.”
Arrington said that in some areas of the district, agriculture saw good crops, while others had a major drought issue or excessive rain.
“Texas faces challenges with the softening of the price of cotton, he said. “The price of cotton has gone down, but the cost of operation has increased. That’s a bad combination, and the trade battle has a lot to do with it.
“It’s been a tough year with fallout from retaliatory tariffs from China. I’ve worked with the president and his team to make sure we have temporary relief and assistance for our farmers to get through this difficult time. We’ll bridge the gap between fallout and new market opportunities brought about by the passing of the trade deal and the agriculture bill.”
Education is a frequent topic of discussion when politicians visit Muleshoe.
“My view on education policy is we need to keep the federal government out of our backyard and let the states and local school districts handle that,” Arrington said. “Education has historically been under the sovereignty of the state and local control of the school board with the parents engaged.
“I spend most of my time trying to rein in the Department of Education, to reduce its influence and cost to the taxpayers. I don’t think we should even have a Department of Education, but short of abolishing it, we need to reduce the scale of the operation to save taxpayers money.”
Arrington, a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, serves on The Rural and Underserved Communities Health Task Force. He co-chairs the task force along with Reps. Danny Davis (D-IL), Terri Sewell (D-AL) and Brad Wenstrup (R-OH). According to the Ways and Means Committee website, the task force is working to identify bipartisan policy options that can improve care delivery and health outcomes within these communities.
“Rural health care is especially competitive for prices,” Arrington said. “Almost half of rural community hospitals are operating at a net loss. I’ve seen a couple of community hospitals in my district go out of business.
“The federal government takes a one-size-fits-all approach to reimbursing hospitals. They have the same requirements for larger hospitals that make no sense to smaller hospitals. The few patients they have are likely to be uninsured or underinsured, which means they’re unable to generate revenue to pay for the cost of the healthcare facility.
“We’re hopeful that we’ll pass legislation this year that will provide relief and solutions for a more sustainable model for rural America.
“It’s important for all Americans in small towns to appeal to my colleagues in Congress. It’s possible that we’ll lose the next generation of farmers, ranchers and energy producers, if they don’t have healthcare for them and their families.”
When it comes to nationwide healthcare, Arrington thinks the costs are far too high, especially the cost of prescription drugs for seniors.
“The cost of health care has been exacerbated by Obama Care (Affordable Care Act), because more government regulations and taxes and mandates only made healthcare more costly for the consumers,” Arrington said. “The issue needs to be addressed across the board, and we need major reforms to get government out of healthcare, have more patient-centered care, more options to choose from, more robust competition, and more transparency in pricing. We need to be able to shop around and decide what healthcare services are best for our family at what price.”
The price of oil was in decline before restrictions and regulations were imposed due to the coronavirus, and they have fallen even further since then.
“There isn’t another region in all the world that produces more energy and agriculture than West Texas,” Arrington said. “We have currently a couple of variables. We have more downward pressure on oil and gas, outside of supply and demand.
“The greatest factor on fossil or conventional fuels is policy intervention on the part of Saudi Arabia, the OPEC nations and Russia. In those countries, the government is in control of managing their resources and the supply of energy. We have a free market; they have government controlled economy. When Russia and Saudi Arabia get into a battle, reducing prices artificially affects global marketing.
“They can’t do that forever. Markets will come back, and the price of oil will come back, hopefully high enough to grow West Texas economy, hopefully not so high that we see a boom-bust cycle. There are factors outside of the control of our producers; that’s what’s frustrating.
“As a member of the Ways and Means Committee, my vision is to create new market opportunities for energy and agriculture producers, sell oil and gas to countries all around world, expand our customer base and have a piece of the global picture.”
Arrington discussed the importance of redistricting in selecting to the Republican Party.
“The Democrats are very formidable with Socialist policies promoted by the likes of Bernie Sanders,” he said. “My thoughts are the Republicans are going to be in the majority in Texas Legislature; they will be the ones that will develop political districts.”