WASHINGTON, DC - The senior senator representing the State of Texas took time to meet with local leaders making their annual visit to Capitol Hill.
A week ago, John Cornyn was one of a number of people to meet with the delegation from the Bryan/College Station Chamber of Commerce.
Before his chat with the delegates, he spoke with News 3.
CORNYN: Well, Texas is a big place, so try as I may to get around the state, it helps a lot when folks come to me on occasion as the Chamber does on an annual basis, and we have a chance to discuss what issues are most important, and areas that I can help, working with our House delegation, Congressman Flores and others, to try to help the folks in the Bryan/College Station area get the assistance they need from the federal government, or as is sometimes the case, get the federal government off their back.
FULLHART: There's 1,400 members of the Bryan/College Station Chamber, and they did a couple of surveys, and the biggest thing, by a wide margin was health care's impacts on their businesses going forward, and one of the platforms of it is repealing or amending health care. What are the chances of that of either of those things happening? It will obviously take work from both sides of the aisle to change anything.
CORNYN: Well, I think we'll find out whether help is on the way in November in terms of Republican majority in the Senate. I think we have a good chance to do that, but President Obama is still going to be in office for two more years, and this Affordable Care Act -- or as I like to call it, the Unaffordable Care Act -- is currently the law. He's not likely to change it without a fight, but I think even he and Obamacare's biggest advocates would have to admit that you can't keep what you have if you like it, premiums have not gone down by $2,500 for a family of four, they've gone up, and that it's interfered with people's right to keep the doctor they wanted to keep on their plan they wanted. It's been a real disappointment, and my own view is it's going to drive up costs, not only for Chamber members in Brazos County, but for all Americans, and it's not going to work, so we ought to figure out a way to come up with something that does make health care more accessible, and that mainly is a matter of price. If we can find a way to bring down costs, and that's going to make health care more accessible. What Obamacare does is add cost and make it more expensive. It's going the wrong way.
FULLHART: On the back end of that, there are now eight million people who have health care that didn't have it before, a lot of them Texans...maybe not as many as the president would have liked, but what would you say to those folks who now do have that health insurance?
CORNYN: I would make a friendly amendment to your question: eight million people signed up, but it's estimated that five million or more actually lost their existing coverage, so there's actually a much smaller group of people who weren't covered who now have coverage. I'm not suggesting it's been a failure for people who did not have coverage before, but what it's done is priced people out many people who had existing coverage out of their current policies. For example, one of the things I think people are going to discover is not only have their premiums gone up, but their deductible has gone up. I talked to a gentleman in the grocery store in Austin the other day who said his deductible was now $5,000, so he might as well be self-insured because he can't afford that. I think the other shoe is going to fall now that the exchanges are up and running. People are going to get their health care premium notices and find out that their coverage is not what they thought it was.
FULLHART: TxDOT for Bryan and College Station, Brazos County, is about $400 million behind on some of the projects that are in the pipeline, and obviously, it's a growing portion of the country. From Washington, what do you see as a possibility for what can be done to make sure that Texas, obviously, but our region is going to get those dollars?
CORNYN: We're going to do everything we can to make sure that Texas and this region are treated fairly. The challenge increasingly is the adequacy of the gas tax -- or I should say, the inadequacy of the gas tax -- to pay for the overall cost of the transportation bills. That's why you're seeing these temporary bills because they've had trouble figuring out how to pay for them, and usually what that means is adding additional general revenue -- in other words, raising the deficit, increasing the debt -- in order to get there. We've got to come up with more creative ways to do it, hopefully less time-consuming ways to do it, streamlining these transportation projects and giving states more flexibility on how to finance them. We'll manage, but we can do better than what we're doing now.