Upton answers request to visit Ring LardnerPublished 8:54am Tuesday, March 30, 2010
By AARON MUELLER
Niles Daily Star
Niles Community Schools students recently proved their ability to answer questions with their outstanding 2009 MEAP scores. But it was the students’ ability to ask questions that was on display Monday afternoon when U.S. Rep. Fred Upton was at Ring Lardner Middle School.
After Marti Wegner’s social studies class sent letters with their opinions to Upton several weeks ago, he agreed to come to Ring Lardner for a question-and-answer session with the class.
The students covered a variety of issues, including education funding, the sour Michigan economy, the auto industry, alternative energy and the legalizing of medical marijuana.
But the topic of the day was appropriately health care.
When asked why he didn’t support the health care bill, Upton said he didn’t like the process.
“It would have been easier if we had done this piece by piece, rather than one big 2,000-page bill and vote yes or no,” he said. “Elements of the bill make sense, like incentives for employers to provide health insurance for their employees. And we do need to change by telling insurance companies they cannot deny coverage.”
Utpon also said he didn’t appreciate the fact there was not an opportunity to make amendments to the bill.
Upton is also worried employers will stop providing health care benefits to their employees.
“There will be a number of folks who like their health care plan, but the company is going to see we can’t afford it anymore … and put them on the government plan,” he said. “And chances are the government plan will not be as generous.”
When asked one thing he liked about the health reform legislation, he told the students that they will now be allowed to be on their parents’ health insurance plan until age 26.
When discussing the Michigan economy and auto industry, Upton said there are some encouraging signs.
“We’re trying to get the auto industry back on its feet. We’ve had some success,” he said. “I just saw a forecast last week that said they think auto sales might be as much as 11 million vehicles this year.”
The nation has gone from buying 12 million vehicles a year to 8.5 million last year, a major blow to the Michigan economy that relies so much on the automotive industry.
Upton also congratulated the students on their 2009 MEAP results and encouraged them to buck the trend of young people not turning out to the polls for elections when they reach voting age.
One student asked if retirement plans are on the horizon. Upton responded that he will be running for re-election.