TOWN OF OLEAN, NY – Heavy snow may have been responsible for the light attendance of nine during U.S. Rep. Tom Reed's Saturday town hall meeting in the Town of Olean Fire Department.

After the Pledge of Allegiance, Reed and the attendees discussed the United States, Mexico and Canada Trade Agreement, immigration policy reform, small business and the drug pricing crisis. 

Reed opened the meeting with the topic he came to speak on: USMCA, which is designed to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement and will be put on the floor of the House  of Representatives for a vote next week.

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Bruce Kenny, representing the Order of the Amaranth and the Congressional Diabetes Caucus, asked, “Will this help with immigration because of the help to the Mexican economy?”

Reed responded, “That’s probably true. Because the auto industry in particular has a lot of supply chains down in Mexico, it really cracks down on illegal imports coming through.”

The discussion segued to immigration, and Reed and his audience agreed that one way to stop illegal immigration is to secure the border, via increased technology and policy reform.  

Then, at Kenny's suggestion, Reed led the conversation to small business. 

Tom Benjamin, the owner of a small construction company, T.B. Construction, and president of the Town of Olean Fire Department, said, “It’s hard for a small business to expand when you have that payroll tax going on.”

And Kenny cited Social Security as another problem for small businesses and asked about what can be done about that. 

Reed responded, “As we solve the Social Security problem, there may be a way to bring revenue in but reduce the payroll rate.”

He added, “And if we take the cap off of income somehow, maybe that’s a way to gain additional revenue.”  

Then, Reed spoke on H.R. 19, a bill concerning Medicaid, which did not pass. A similar bill to H.R. 19 is being pushed to the House.

The conversation moved to drug pricing.

Reed said his main goal on the drug pricing front is to reform patent laws to encourage competition with sole source pharmaceutical producers. That way, no one entity can dictate the price of needed drugs such as insulin and EpiPens.

As the meeting came to a close, Reed thanked everyone for coming.

Phyllis Richardson, who attended with her husband Charles, former chief of the Town of Olean Fire Department, said she heard about the meeting over the radio. 

While her husband helped put away chairs after the meeting, Richardson declared the meeting had been “very informative.”

And she added, “You learn more about your government."

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