Tauzin speaks on national and state issues in LaPlace

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 29, 2000

ERIK SANZENBACH / L’Observateur / April 29, 2000

LAPLACE – Despite an amazing economic recovery by the country as a whole, U.S. Rep. Billy Tauzin R-“Chackbay, said Louisiana still has a long way to go.Tauzin, the senior member of the Louisiana delegation in Washington D.C.,was in town Wednesday and addressed a well-attended luncheon at the Belle Terre Country Club.

He said he is especially concerned about Louisiana’s status in the world of computers and the internet.

“We are the third lowest state in internet connections,” Tauzin told the crowd that included the parish presidents of the three River Parishes. “Atleast Arkansas and Mississippi are below us.” Tauzin joked.Tauzin urged that Louisiana should move fast in the transition from the slower modem access to the internet to the faster DSN digital technology.

“It’s crazy for us to be on the bottom,” Tauzin said. “No business should notbe on the internet, and no home in this state should be without a computer.”Tauzin said with today’s cheaper computers and almost free access to the internet, greater strides in getting poor kids access to the internet in Louisiana schools should be made.

“The internet is the key to success today,” said Tauzin.

At this time, Louisiana has only two access ports to high-speed internet connections – New Orleans and Baton Rouge. He said the rest of Louisianashould have the same access.

Saying the new access speeds will allow more video, audio and other media to be accessible to everybody, Tauzin is urging everybody to get on-line as soon as possible. He said the internet will change everybody’s life and will helpdefray cost in a lot of fields.

Tauzin used medicine as an example.

“We can use computers to bring doctors right into people’s homes via the internet,” said Tauzin. “This would mean enormous savings to patients.”As an incentive, Tauzin said later this spring he will announce a model plan to urge all towns and metropolitan areas in Louisianan to connect to the internet and become fully wired with the latest technology.

On other issues, Tauzin said his bill to get Louisiana fair share of off-shore oil royalties is moving at a good speed through Congress.

If passed and signed, the bill would generate $298 million a year for Louisiana. That money can be used for flood protection, wetlandsreclamation, recreation and protection of endangered animals.

“This is a great environmental bill and a great bill for Louisiana,” said Tauzin.

On the local front, Tauzin said this part of the state should regain its status as the gateway to the Americas. The only way to do that is to proceed withthe construction of a regional inter-modal airport that would serve not only the air lanes, but railroad, highways and river traffic as well.

Tauzin also reminded the crowd that internet commerce depends on air shipments and again Louisiana could lead the way by combining high technology with air service.

“With a regional airport,” said Tauzin, “we wouldn’t have so many financial problems in Baton Rouge.”On the tax front, Tauzin pushed his legislation for a national retail sales tax.

He wants to get rid of the Internal Revenue Service all together. With a 15percent national sales tax, everybody would pay their fair share and there wouldn’t be need for the IRS and an antiquated tax code. Tauzin said thatsuch taxes as capital gains, inheritance and gift taxes would all be eliminated.

Plus, it would get the government off the taxpayers’ backs, he added.

The poor would not be taxed until their family reached a certain earning level.

He feels that it is a win-win situation for the country.

“If we can get rid of the IRS,” said Tauzin, “then April 15 just becomes another nice spring day.”He also feels that a national sales tax would help in this era of free trade.

All imports would be taxed just like American-made products.

Talking more on the international front, Tauzin said China should be a free- trade partner for several reasons.

First, he said, the U.S. has to open up the Chinese markets to Americanproducers. At this time, America is open to Chinese products but not theother way around. Secondly, the country has security concerns with thatpart of the world because we protect Taiwan. If the country becomesfriendlier with China, the odds of a war with Taiwan are remote.

Finally, the Chinese have a lot of this country’s nuclear secrets, and it makes sense to normalize relations with the guy who has “the same size club that we do,” Tauzin said.

On the Elian Gonzalez issue, Tauzin said he is looking forward to the congressional hearings into the raid that re-united Elian with his father.

“It was incredible,” Tauzin said. “The idea of federal armed officials bustinginto a house on a custody battle is very troubling to me.”Tauzin suggested that if Elian does go back to Cuba, the U.S. should extendthe possibility of U.S. citizenship if he should ever decide to return in thefuture.

“We owe him that much,” said Tauzin.

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