“It’s the first of May and we have an election year,” Rogers said. “Over the next 4-5 months not a whole lot is going to happen.”
Speaking at the Childersburg Chamber luncheon at Central Alabama Community College, Rogers said “big things need to be taken care of,” but didn’t offer much hope that will happen.
Cyber security is one issue demanding congressional attention. Security threats to both national and commercial interests need attention, Rogers said.
One commercial example Rogers cited is China’s “reverse engineering” of American made products.
“China doesn’t care about intellectual property laws,” he said.
Automobiles made in the United States can be “reverse engineered” and China reproduces cars identical to the U.S. brands for 25 percent less. Rogers said China courts protect Chinese products.
He said he believes a transportation bill will pass because major projects can’t go forward unless it is.
“Contractors need 18-24 months commitment,” he said.
In another matter, Rogers said the Keystone pipeline transporting oil from Canada to U.S. refineries is being held up by environmentalists. He said Canada oil resources can supply 100 percent of the needs of the United States, but Canada’s problem is that it doesn’t have refineries.
U.S. oil production is necessary, Rogers said, to supply the global market to stabilize global prices. The U.S. imports 40 percent of its oil from Canada and little from the Middle East, he said.
As a member of the Armed Services Committee, Rogers expressed concern over an agreement made by senior Republicans to gain the support of freshmen Republican congressmen. He said that one-third of House Republicans elected last term were first-terms.
An agreement was made that if the national budget doesn’t include a $600 billion cut, an automatic $50 million reduction in national security allocations over the next 10 years would be enacted. Such an act would affect not only armed services, but also the FBI, CIA and Homeland Security, Rogers said.
“It can’t be done,” he said.
One reason Rogers said reductions can’t be made is that “we are at war. When we are at war we can’t reduce troops or civilians attached supporting the war effort.”
“The only place left to cut is procurements,” he said.
The problem with cutting procurements is the negative impact the measure would have on the economy if contracts are cancelled.
Rogers said many of the contract provisions stipulate penalties should contracts be cancelled. Contractors would still receive significant payments.
Another issue Rogers addressed was the need for Homeland Security to seal U.S. borders with Mexico. The department must deal vigorously, he said.
During a question and answer period, CACC President Steve Franks asked what Rogers thought congressional composition will be after the election.
Rogers said House Republicans may lose four to five seats, but he expects the Senate to realize 53 to 56 seats. He said he expects Romney to win the presidential election.
Rogers was quick to caution, however, that citizens shouldn’t expect the country to experience a quick turn-around.
Answering a question about entitlement programs, Rogers said Medicare is “rampant with fraud and abuse. It is the 5 percent that cannot be honest that create the problems.”
He said Social Security was established to assist people with only three to fours years left to live.
“In the ‘40s the retirement age was 65 but life expectancy was only 63,” he said.
“We can’t afford to support people for 30 years.”
Rogers completed his trip to Childersburg with a tour of the Kymulga Grist Mill. Historical Commission president Martha Little stressed the need for financial assistance to pay for needed foundational repairs at the mill.
“We have had estimates of up to almost $500,000 from engineers,” Little said. “We can’t raise that much money with festivals and bake sales.”
Rogers encouraged Little to have the city of Childersburg work with Bill Curtis at East Alabama Regional Planning and Development Commission in securing possible funding.
Little said that recently the mill had visitors from Pennsylvania, Texas, Hawaii and Japan. “It is truly a tourist attraction,” Little said.
The tour ended with Little presenting Rogers with a bag of stone ground meal produced at the mill and an invitation to attend the Grits Festival this weekend.
“We won’t shut the gate as long as people are here,” Little said.
Contact Mark Ledbetter at firstname.lastname@example.org.