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Chocola speaks to students at Saint Mary’s

Megan O'Neil | Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Congressman Chris Chocola, Congressional representative for the 2nd district of Indiana, spoke to the Saint Mary’s community Monday about his experience in federal government and his re-election campaign. The event, sponsored by the Political Science Club, followed a visit to campus by Chocola’s Democratic opponent Joe Donnelly last week. After losing to Democrat Tim Roemer in 2000, Chocola said he did not intend to run again. But when Roemer announced his retirement two years later, Chocola chose to hit the campaign trail again, in one 2002’s closest House races, and defeated Jill Long Thompson.Chocola said Washington D.C. was full of individuals talking about job creation but lacking people who had ever actually created one themselves.”I thought we need more people with a business perspective and not just a lot of lawyers,” Chocola said. Chocola, who sits on the transportation, agriculture and small business committees in the House of Representatives, said economic concerns are most pressing for Americans. “When people wake up in the morning the first thing they ask themselves is ‘Do I have a job?'” said Chocola. “For most people economic issues really drive the day.”According to Chocola, small businesses are particularly important in Indiana because they account for 70 percent of new jobs created in the state. Chocola said he is currently sponsoring a House bill that would give small businesses a $3,500 tax break for every new job created.When asked by one student about raising the minimum wage, Chocola said the issue was highly political and increasing it nationally could be problematic. According to Chocola, those who use low paying jobs to supplement their incomes or to support themselves in college could loose those job opportunities. Instead, the focus should be on educating people properly to prepare them for high salary positions.”The goal is that the people who are providing for families are not depending on minimum wage jobs,” he said. “We need to make sure we focus on how we create better paying jobs.”Chocola also discussed the possibility of a future draft. “There is not going to be a draft. I get asked that a lot,” he said. “There has been this effort to scare, I think, college-aged students.”