|SITREP - April 14th 2012|
Phew. It’s been a whirlwind week back home and still going. People ask me all the time why Congress “goes on vacation so much”. I can’t speak for anybody else, but with Congress getting next to nothing done when everybody is in DC, the pressure is really on to make the most of my time back in Florida. So, here are the highlights from the week:
On Monday, we had town halls in Inverness and Dunnellon to get input on our budget proposal for the federal government.
Tuesday, over to Marion County to meet with local business leaders.
From 8:30 to 4:00 on Wednesday, visited more small businesses around Hernando County. At 5:30 – back to Inverness for our Military Service Academy Open House (thanks to all of the students for coming out and expressing a willingness to serve).
Thursday AM – Back to Citrus County to meet with my Veterans Advisory Board. Then over to Bushnell for lunch with the members of the Sumter Chamber of Commerce. Then up to the Villages at 2:00 for our Identity Theft Workshop. 7:00 PM - gave a speech at the Sumter Landing Republican Club.
Friday AM – Slept in an extra ten minutes. Back to Marion for a site visit at the Ocala Social Security Office. Met with the local Kiwanis Club at noon. Interview with the Buddy Martin Show on WOCA. Back to Brooksville for events in the evening.
If there is any common theme to all of my weeks back home, it’s trying to get in to spend some time with as many small businesses as I can. If I’ve learned anything in the last fifteen months in Washington (and you’ve heard me say this before), it’s that too many people up there – way too many – get all of their information and insight from the “experts” at think tanks and universities. They don’t talk to enough folks back home. I don’t mean to knock it – all of those people at the think tanks are very bright – but if I need a small business “expert”, I’m looking for the ones in the District who are in the trenches every day, grinding it out every day, trying to grow their businesses. They know what they need and since you don’t hear it from the experts, some of their perspectives might surprise you.
Let’s take the whole debate over increasing America’s domestic supply of oil. Would it have occurred to you, listening to all of the experts on TV, that the increasing cost of a barrel of oil has been particularly disastrous for a small plastics manufacturer in Brooksville? Not just because of all of the normal costs – transportation, etc – but because the raw inputs for plastics, such as resin, are derived straight from oil.
These are the kinds of things that bring the big picture home. Talking about a real energy plan for America isn’t an academic exercise for this small business – and it isn’t for any manufacturers. It cuts right to the core of their ability to compete. That limits the number of people they can hire. And as the plastics manufacturer mentioned, for the employees who are on the payroll, the rising price of gasoline and other essentials is squeezing those paychecks more and more every week.
I can’t encourage you strongly enough that when you bump into a small business owner, see what their take is on the issues of the day. The insight is a lot more valuable than anything you’ll hear on the news. I promise you that.