Chouteau locals filed into town hall to hear U.S. Rep. Markwayne Mullin speak Friday.
Some came in as friends and others left that way as they introduced themselves to one another while waiting for Mullin.
“Everyone always wants to ask me if I'm having fun. I'm not. I think that's the problem, too many people are in politics just having fun. I am honored, though,” Mullin began.
He made one request of the group of about 65 people.
“I ask that you drop labels during our meeting today. No slamming Democrats or Republicans. There are good and bad in each,” said Mullin. “We can't judge someone because of the R or D by their name, that's just as bad as judging by race.”
Mullin said everyone present had one thing in common, patriotism.
“We all believe this is the best country, period. Isn't that the most beautiful flag?” Mullin said, referencing the American flag behind him.
“I've never pledged my allegiance to a Republican flag or a Democrat flag. We all have the best interest of the country at heart,” said Mullin.
Mullin's desire to drop labels and be unbiased came up again during the question and answer portion of the meeting.
“You've fought for our country and I genuinely and greatly appreciate that. So with all due respect, I don't like labels. I don't care one ounce what color he is. It's his agenda I don't like, not his skin color,” Mullin said in response to a man's question that cast President Obama in a negative light.
Mullin said Obama is arrogant and not a natural leader, but emphasized that none of those things are connected to his skin color.
“I don't have to like him or even support him,” said Mullin. “but I respect that office.”
When asked his opinion on ObamaCare (the Affordable Care Act), Mullin said he is not a fan.
“Every chance I get to repeal it or slow it down, I am. We're trying to get people to wake up and see that it is every bit the train wreck we said it would be. I have never once seen a poll that favors ObamaCare,” he said.
Mullin said Obama's own political party is saying the health care program will be a “train wreck.”
“This week my health insurance premium went up 14 percent, thanks ObamaCare, but what can we do to fix this?” asked one Chouteau resident.
“Stay hooked up. We were not fans of the IRS, never have been, and now they'll be in charge of our health care, woo hoo, we're doing back flips about that,” said Mullin. “Our system is so massive there's no way to stay up on it.
“Yes I think Fair Tax is an option, anything is better than what we've got now,” said Mullin.
He said the system is ever-changing and ever-growing.
“Everyone is wanting to change D.C. and see immediate results. But look at it a little closer, there are people stuck in ruts in their own life because they are afraid of the ripple effect of change,” said Mullin.
Mullin was asked if he was afraid of ObamaCare, of reforms and of people revolting against the president.
“I'm not afraid of much of anything, except my wife and my mama,” he said.
The subject turned to immigration, illegal residents and amnesty.
“Amnesty will not make it to the House floor for a vote,” Mullin said. “I'll never vote on it unless it begins with real border security.”
He said there are places that border security cannot patrol.
“And you know what, the bad guys know that too,” said Mullin.
He said that both Democrats and Republicans are generating ideas and suggestions on the subject.
“Both sides are trying to be a champion. Both sides have valid points that have been lost in political jargon,” said Mullin. “We need a solution that works for the country, not one party.”
He said there is a generation of people immigrating into the country who want to be law abiding, patriotic voters and those individuals can hold their family accountable.
“We need to not lose this generation. We need a solution that is not swayed by a political platform, it's as simple as that,” he said.
Discussion segued from there to the topic of an official language. A citizen said that 86 percent of Americans would like to have English declared the official language.
“I have absolutely no problem with that, it's the only language I know,” Mullin said. “People coming into our country should learn English. If I was traveling to another country I would show them the courtesy of learning their language.”
The point was made that business finances could be more efficient if the business did not have to become a bilingual company.
Mullin told a personal story about a job site, of his plumbing company being declared a bilingual job site by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The result was that all equipment had to be pulled off the site to be equipped with English adn Spanish instruction and safety stickers.
“I called to order the stickers and found out they didn't even exist, so we had to wait to have them printed. In the mean time, the job site was closed for three days which meant our company lost money and time, the client lost time and our crews lost three days of work,” said Mullin. “So I know first-hand how expensive it is for a company.”
He said decisions have been made not to declare an official language because politicians are “pandering for the Hispanic vote.”
“Is there any way to stop the bleeding of the military before we have a hollow military like the Carter administration?” Mullin was asked, changing gears again.
“I think sequestration was the government at it's best,” Mullin said. “Everyone agrees we have got to cut spending. I for one don't want a weaker military. Personally, I want us to have more nukes than the Russians. I want us to always have more than the other guy.”
Mullin said the discussion on this topic has been on-going at the Capitol and right now there is no clear solution. He said every dollar given to the military is assigned to one specific project and can only be used on that project. Should the project be cancelled, the money is left in limbo, unable to be reallocated. As a result, the restrictions were taken off and new problems arose.
The town hall meeting concluded with a question about abortion. Mullin was asked his opinion on the subject and if anything can be done to make getting abortions more difficult.
“I don't understand the argument that abortion is OK if the child would otherwise be born into a bad situation,” said Mullin. “My girls (adopted) were born into a bad situation and now they are blessing my family every day.”
Mullin then thanked Chouteau for having him and shook hands on his way out the door.