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Scott Witten|Laurinburg Exchange
US Rep. Richard Hudson talks with David Burns during the congressman's stop in Laurinburg Wednesday.
Not yet a week into his first term in the US House of Representatives, Richard Hudson visited Laurinburg on Wednesday to meet with members of the business community.
Organized by the Scotland County/Laurinburg Area Chamber of Commerce, Hudson’s visit to Richmond Community College’s F. Diane Honeycutt Center was the first stop on the second day of the Congressman’s “listening tour” across the 8th District.
“I am honored by the opportunity to serve all of you,” Hudson said prior to taking questions from the gathering of about 60 that included elected officials, business leaders, educators and others.
Several members of Hudson’s newly formed staff were also in attendance, and the congressman introduced several of them, saying that they will aid him in his “most sacred responsibility: Taking care of our constituents.”
Billed as “Coffee and Conversation with the Congressman,” the event also served as a meeting of the members of the local economic development/community stakeholders group.
“We thought it was a great opportunity for our members to meet with and discuss issues because he is new to the job,” said Laurinburg Mayor Tommy Parker, one of the group’s organizers. “It (was) great to see so many here. We are going to have to work together to seek new heights.”
Hudson, who is business owner himself, operated Cabarrus Marketing Group, a marketing and strategic communications consulting business.
A graduate of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and former member of the Rowan-Cabarrus Community College Board of Trustees, Hudson praised the work done at RCC’s F. Diane Honeycutt Center to educate both traditional students as well as those looking to continue their education later in life.
Hudson said that the district’s excellent community colleges will feature in the country’s economic comeback.
Having defeated Democratic Rep. Larry Kissell in November, Hudson said that he has already started reaching across the aisle to form political alliances and friendships. Concerned about the growing partisan divide in Washington, Hudson has used his first week in Congress to get to build relationships with members of the opposing party, including Democratic Rep. Joe Kennedy III, who was elected to serve a congressional district in Massachusetts.
“We are going to cancel each other’s votes out a lot … but the most important thing to being able to work together is to have trust,” Hudson said.
Hudson will be serving on the House Agriculture Committee, the Education and the Workforce Committee and the Homeland Security Committee. He will also serve as chairman of the Transportation Security Subcommittee.
A fiscal conservative, Hudson said that he will work to influence the way congress funds federal programs by installing sunset dates which would require special congressional action in order for the programs and departments to continue.
“Ronald Reagan once said that ‘There is nothing more permanent than a temporary government program.’ We can’t keep doing the same thing, we have got to change the mindset in Washington,” Hudson said.
Chastising the federal government’s handling of the recession, the former congressional staffer said he worries that the economy could get worse unless there is a fundamental shift in thinking at the very highest levels.
“They are literally printing money to buy our own debt. There’s going to be a day of reckoning for that.”
Included among Hudson’s priorities is the preservation of two of America’s most entrenched programs: Social Security and Medicare.
While making it clear that he would not favor changes that would affect those at or near retirement age, Hudson said that he would personally like to be given the flexibility to invest his social security money – and he believes that others his age would like that option, as well.
Citing a recent poll, Hudson said that “more people my age believe Elvis is alive than believe they will be able to draw Social Security.”
And the reality of the situation is not up for debate, according to Hudson.
“If there is one thing that every single politician can agree on, it is that there is a date when … Social Security and Medicare will go broke. But politicians refuse to deal with it.”
According to Hudson, the longer congress fails to act to change Social Security and Medicare, the more expensive the problem will become to fix.
“These are tough discussions that need to be had,” Hudson said.
Hudson was in Laurinburg as part of a 12-county listening tour to talk about economic development and other issues. He visited Robeson County later in the day and is expected to speak today to chambers in Monroe, Wadesboro and Albemarle.
The congressman also suggested that constituents visit his new website at Hudson.House.gov.
The next meeting of the stakeholders group will take place on February 6 at 8 a.m.