Jim Matheson holds the award from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that he garnered at a local chamber meeting.
On Wednesday the Carbon County Chamber of Commerce held their monthly meeting at the Balance Rock Cafe in Helper and presented Congressman Jim Matheson with a national award that had been saved until he could come to eastern Utah to accept it.
The Chamber gave Matheson the "Spirit of Enterprise" on behalf of the United States Chamber of Congress. The U.S. Chamber tracks the voting records of all representatives and senators on small business related issues. They honor those that have voted pro business at least 70 percent of the time or better. Matheson voted favorably to small business interests 14 out of 18 times for a rating of 78 percent.
Matheson then went on to address the crowd. He focused his short talk on three issues he feels are the greatest concern at this time.
The first issue is the economy. He wanted to emphasis that even though the country is in the worse recession since the 1980's there are signs of improvement. But he is adamant that government can't fix the problems. He went on to say that economic cycles happen and right now our economy is resetting itself and will work itself out.
The second issue he is concerned about is health care. He is on the healthcare sub committee and knows the problem is a complicated issue. While he assured the crowd that government health insurance is not on the table, he acknowledged that rising health care costs that soar ahead of inflation cannot continue and an urgent solution is quickly needed.
The final issue he wanted to address was the nation's energy policy. Right now the country does not have a national energy policy and that continues the U.S. down the path of greater dependence on foreign supplies. He pointed out that as a nation we still import 60 percent of our energy from other countries.
Matheson then went on to take questions from the audience. He was asked about the 77 oil and gas leases that Interior Secretary Kent Salazar had pulled back off the table. He answered that mistakes had been made all around, but he was watching to see what the final decision would be. But he admitted several times that the pulling of the leases was more symbolic than substantiative in action because there are still hundreds of leases in play.
He also fielded questions about Medicare, public land issues and the Employee Free Choice bill that is on the table.
The one question he danced around the edges of was when he was asked about his hints to run for governor. With a quick smile, he said that he was looking at that and several other political moves, none of which was decided on. He stated that when he chooses to run for an office, he runs to win and so he was weighing options and would make his decisions when the timing was right.
In other business during the meeting the Chamber's Business Spotlight of the Month was Rocky Mountain Power. Deb Dull, spokesperson for Rocky Mountain, accepted the award.
Leonard Miller also gave a short presentation about AARP. Miller outlined several of the projects that the local AARP members have been involved with. This year they joined forces with Carbon High to sort food at the food bank. They also offered a defensive driving class for seniors 55 and older that may earn them a discount on the insurance rates of those who complete it.