Here is the next Discover Janesville in Janesville Messenger column.
2nd Congressional District Representative in the United States Congress, Mark Pocan, represents the Southern part of Rock County, as well as Dane County. In Congress he replaced Congresswoman and now United States Senator Tammy Baldwin. Like his predecessor, Congressman Pocan stands strong for Progressive values, in stark contrast with his neighbor in the 1st Congressional District, Congressman Paul Ryan. I took the opportunity to compare the two very different Congressmen representing Rock County in Congress, during a recent conversation with Representative Pocan.
To my question about the two different stories he and Paul Ryan tell about Rock County, Mark Pocan replied that “Sometimes it feels like we go through different paths through Rock County because when we have been debating the budget or the different issues that come before Congress, I see the unemployment down here and the need that people have for accessing health care. Some of the austerity policies that have really come through the Republican version of the budget, which I know that Congressman Ryan’s been very active with, are in my opinion pretty detrimental to people in the county.” While the two Congressmen represent nearly the same group of people, they appear to have two very different prescriptions for how best to help the residents.
Congressman Pocan reflected on growing up in Kenosha where an auto plant also closed some years back. Looking at the Janesville GM plant and all the companies that fed into it he is convinced that solving unemployment and creating jobs should be our number one focus. In his opinion, getting people working and getting that tax revenue will take care of both debt and deficit.
Comparing the two Congressmen on the issue of marriage equality, I asked Mark Pocan about his reaction to the recent report that Paul Ryan shifted his position and has come out in support of adoptions by gay couples. Mark, who himself is gay and has been at the forefront of the marriage equality movement, smiled and said that he always respects when “leaders catch up to the public.” He cited a national poll where 58% of respondents supported marriage equality and 81% of 18-29 year olds expressed support for marriage equality as well. These findings, according to Congressman Pocan, strongly point to the fact that our country is shifting on the issue of marriage equality, and its time for our leaders to catch up, adding that “when you have a country with total equality, it benefits absolutely every person.”
In spite of the many areas of disagreement, Congressman Pocan gave a check list of issues where he looks forward to working with his conservative Rock County counterpart: GM plant, bringing more jobs and transportations dollars to the area, having dairy policies that benefit our state. Congressman said he anticipates having disagreements around the issues connected to Paul Ryan’s Austerity policies, and working together when it comes to Prosperity policies, which he calls policies likely to improve the economic climate in the country and his district through government investment.
Asked about Sequester, Congressman Pocan said that while he wasn’t there when it was created, instead of cutting bad programs, Sequester cut good and bad programs by 5%. Ultimately, Congressman wants to see the Sequester be replaced but that is not possible until there is national budget, which won’t occur until Congress appoints Conferees.
Rock County is fortunate to have two Representatives in the United States Congress who can do a lot to help our area, especially these days when Janesville and the entire Rock County needs our public servants more than ever. Let’s hope they will concentrate their time on working together more then on working apart.
Listen to the interview right here: Spotlight on Congress: Mark Pocan