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Moving Havre forward


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There is an old saying "Montana is one small town with really long streets." And I have always said, no street runs longer then Highway 2, or the Hi-Line as most folks call it. And at the heart of the Hi-Line is Havre. Havre is one of those special communities in Montana where you feel right at home even if it is your first visit. And for people who have lived there for years, each day often feels like the first day. Boosting Our Economy In Havre, and across the state, the number one issue is jobs and the economy. Hill County has done better than other parts of the state, with a five percent unemployment rate at the end of December, making it one of the lowest county rates in the state. Yet, lots of folks can't find work and that just isn't right. Back in Washington, I worked hard to pass a jobs bill to help small businesses. Small businesses are the engine that drives our economy, and this bill will provide much needed tax cuts to help them keep hiring. Tax cuts are one of the quickest, most effective methods to getting our economy moving. Now, these tax cuts must be responsible and targeted for individuals, families and small businesses. That is why, as chairman of the Senate Finance Committee in charge of tax policy, I am committed to working to pass meaningful tax cuts for hard working Montanans. Protecting Ag Disaster Another issue that I know is very important to folks in Havre and the surrounding areas is disaster assistance. In 2008, I was the lead author of the Farm Bill, and I worked day and night to make sure there was a permanent safety net for our farmers and ranchers. It just wasn't right for farmers and ranchers to have to go hat in hand to Congress every time there was a disaster, and then often have to wait years to get the help they need. I was also very disappointed that President Obama is once again seeking a cut in direct payments for farmers in his budget. I will be working with my colleagues in Congress to ensure this vital source of revenue is not cut. Agriculture is the backbone of our state's economy, and our farmers and ranchers deserve to be protected from low prices and unpredictable, unforeseen disasters. Passing Health Care Reform For almost two years now I have been working on health care reform. In fact, I still remember the listening session I held in Havre at the Northern Montana Hospital in October 2008. During this session folks talked about all different issues that they faced with regards to health care. And I remember thinking even then: We must get this done. I know many folks have very strong feelings about health care. Some are concerned, others are hopeful, some are anxious and others are probably a little confused. I know that there has been a lot of misinformation out there about what health care legislation will or won't do. While not a comprehensive list, here are few things that the bill that passed the U.S. Senate will do: It will lower the deficit by about $132 billion over the next 10 years, then lower the deficit by up to $1 trillion the following 10 years. In a time when the government needs to tighten its financial belt, this will provide real savings. It will strengthen Medicare and make prescription drugs more affordable for seniors It will provide tax cuts to small businesses to help them afford health coverage for their employees. It will prevent insurance companies from denying people coverage just because they have been sick or have a health condition It will provide tax credits for individuals to help make coverage affordable. The bottom line is we need to pass this legislation. It will help make insurance more affordable, it will strengthen Medicare for seniors and it will help get the government's financial house in order. Living in a state like Montana and a community like Havre is truly a blessing. And I look forward to working to make our state an even better place to live, work and raise a family. (Max Baucus is Montana's senior senator and chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.)


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