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‘New’ 9th District Congressman Smith says tech focus key to jobs
After the recent redistricting process was finalized, Mercer Island found itself part of the 9th District and with a new congressman, Adam Smith.
Smith introduced himself to part of Mercer Island on Thursday afternoon during the May Chamber of Commerce lunch at the Mercer Island Community and Event Center.
After the districts were changed in response to the 2010 Census, Smith’s district now includes a large portion of King County.
“I’m really excited about the new district,” said Smith. “I’m very pleased. My district moved north and is now 98 percent King County. I used to have part of Thurston and Pierce, but now it’s more concentrated.”
Smith spoke during the Chamber meeting about larger issues facing the country, and some of the work he has been doing in Washington, D.C. As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, he does a lot of work with the Department of Defense. Smith, who identifies himself as a new Democrat, said he started when he was elected in 1996 as a member of the House Armed Services Committee, in large part because his district included Joint Base Lewis-McChord, but also because the area as a whole has a lot of military connections.
“My other big issue is trying to figure out what we can do to integrate and help grow jobs,” he said. “This district has a very strong technology focus, and I want to use that focus to help create and bring opportunity. I had opportunity, and I want us to figure out, how do we make sure that’s still available, how to protect that, which innovation and technology are crucial parts of.”
Smith said that right now the biggest issues facing the United States are getting the economy going again, and the budget.
“Right now our greatest challenge is to figure out how to get the economy going again,” he said. “It’s an enormous challenge. The budget is the other huge problem. There is a lot of uncertainty, and right now we don’t know what we’re going to do about it.”
Smith said the uncertainty at the federal level is having an effect on businesses across the country, which are waiting to see how and if changes in the coming year will change their business.
Smith also touched on the deficit and how there seems to be a widespread denial of the importance of getting it under control.
“The depth of denial is huge,” he said. “There is an endless array of debates on what we should do, but all I know is right now the [numbers] don’t add up. There’s a clear consensus — the people have said they want Congress to lower the deficit, without cutting anything or raising taxes. That is a problem. The longer we wait, the larger the problem gets and the more damaging to the economy it becomes. It’s not a 50-year problem; it’s a right-now problem.”
During a question and answer session with the Chamber members on hand, Smith talked about topics ranging from health care to bipartisanship.
On health care he said, no matter what the Supreme Court decides on the Affordable Care Act, there will have to be major changes because the system, as it is now, is not working.
“We spend more money per capita than any other country, and yet we’re ranked 35th or worse in many categories,” he said. “There is twice as much demand as there is money to pay for it.”
He said that currently, as a nation, the deficit and health care are probably two of the biggest dividers, which are causing a very wide rift for Americans.
To learn more about Smith, visit his website at adamsmith.house.gov.