U.S. Sen. David Vitter makes stop in Vidalia

Published 12:01 am Friday, January 11, 2008

VIDALIA — U.S. Sen. David Vitter made a stop in Vidalia Thursday to field questions from his constituents ranging from the future of social security taxes to the death tax.

The stop was a part of a series of town hall meetings he hopes to conduct in every parish, Vitter said.

“This tradition began when I first ran for the state Legislature,” he said. “After the election, my wife and I added it up and realized we had covered that district five times. I know having gone through that it was the best preparation for the job.”

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One of the major concerns Vitter has for Louisiana is the future of its agriculture industry, he said.

Vitter worked on the new farm bill for the last year, he said, and it is currently in a House-Senate conference committee being finalized.

He worked hard to include amendments to the farm bill that would help Louisiana agriculture, Vitter said.

“I know it is important to this area, and it is very important to preserve agriculture in Louisiana,” he said.

Vitter said he is also backing a measure that would allow prescription drug reimportation from other countries.

“This would allow us to buy the same drugs we can buy here safely from countries like Canada and elsewhere by mail-order or over the Internet,” he said. “That would provide cheaper drugs for us here but it would also bring domestic prices down.”

Though there may be a perception he is a member of a government debating society in Washington, D.C., Vitter said he is an active advocate for the state.

“I am constantly partnering with you here at the federal level so you can continue in progress,” he said.

Reading questions from cards constituents had submitted, Vitter said he was opposed to the taxation of social security payments and was trying to get the rate of taxation on social security payments reduced and eventually ended.

Concordia Parish resident George Ashley questioned Vitter about how he could help with an Old River water flow project that would help keep the levels of Old River consistent.

“Right now we don’t have any way to control the Old River except through the Mississippi River,” Ashley said.

The problem could be easily solved with a small canal project, but the U.S. Corps of Engineers has told him they don’t have the money to do the project, Ashley said.

Vitter told Ashley to contact his office and they would see what they could do.

Vitter also addressed the phasing-out of the death tax, which will be completely gone by 2010 but will come back full force in 2011 unless Congress makes the change permanent.

“This will help small businesses, family farms and individuals,” he said. “There are a lot of small businesses that have to be shuttered or closed and sold because of the one-time tax hit.”

After answering a number of questions about Medicare and veterans’ affairs benefits, Vitter said anyone who has a specific issue with their benefits can contact his office and they will work toward resolving the issue.