U.S. Rep. Mick Mulvaney criticized the Affordable Care Act and touched on a need for comprehensive immigration reform during a town hall-style meeting Wednesday night in Rock Hill.
The Republican incumbent from Indian Land represents the 5th Congressional District, which includes York, Chester and Lancaster counties. He faces a Democratic challenger from Fort Mill, Tom Adams, in the November midterm elections.
Dozens attended the forum at the Baxter Hood Center – many in agreement with the representative’s fiscal conservative take on limited federal government and free trade principles.
“The government continues to get bigger, bigger and bigger,” said Mulvaney, pointing to a series of presentation slides that included increased environmental regulations regarding motor vehicles and a list of Affordable Care Act deadlines and extensions.
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The congressman has been an outspoken critic of Obamacare and its troubled rollout, which included problems with the federal exchange website.
Mulvaney expressed skepticism of the efficiency of government-subsidized health care, pointing to recent reports on negligent deaths attributed to delays and mishandling by Veteran Affairs Medical Centers – including the Dorn hospital in Columbia.
“I offer this as an example of where we should be at our best,” he said of the veterans medical program. “How do you think you’ll be covered under the government?”
He said he also was wary of what may happen with immigration reform in the coming months, as many have speculated on whether President Barack Obama will use executive orders to spur reform if the issue isn’t picked up in Congress by the midterm elections.
“The illegal immigration problem is real and it has to be faced,” said Mulvaney, who noted he does not support a path for citizenship to those illegally in the country, but is open to granting some form of legal status. “I’m for fixing the whole system.”
He said more should be done to secure U.S. borders aside from fences, but also noted that much of illegal immigration comes from those who overstay travel visas.
“They’ve got some rules on immigration,” said retired Lake Wylie resident Lloyd Viets, who is a regular attendee of Mulvaney’s local meetings. “They have to follow it.”
Viets said he doesn’t think the U.S. should open its borders to those who have entered illegally and that the answer to immigration reform lies in better enforcement.
Mulvaney said partisan-backed legislation such as the Affordable Care Act have made political compromise difficult in Washington for other issues such as immigration reform.
“Most people feel very powerless right now about what’s going on in D.C.,” said Gloria Hein, a Lake Wylie resident who works in Charlotte.
Saying she wants to see more change in Congress, Hein said she has been discouraged by scandals such as the spying programs conducted by the National Security Agency.
“They’re kind of powerless, too,” she said of congressional members such as Mulvaney.