By: NEIL KING
The WNIT show “Politically Speaking” recently featured a one-on-one discussion with Jackie Walorski and host Elizabeth Bennion and for a feature titled “Legislators Tell All: The Importance of Public Policy.”
Bennion, an IU South Bend professor and host of the show, interviewed the 2nd Congressional District representative for the episode which aired Sunday, Jan. 12. Walorski represents much of the area surrounding St. Joseph County.
Bennion and Walorski talked about veteran benefits, balancing the national budget, how Indiana politics can help to improve national policy and why Walorski voted to keep congress closed during the government shutdown.
Bennion asked Walorski why she had voted to keep congress closed during the government shutdown after an agreement had been reached. Walorski skirted the question, focusing instead on other times she had voted to keep congress open and on bills that congress tabled. She also complained about the lack of transparency in congress towards the American people.
Bennion said that she felt Walorski talked about voting on different topics and proposed changes to laws, but did not answer the question, and that Bennion lost her opportunity to follow up with Walorski on the issue as the congresswoman changed subjects.
According to Walorski, one of her major concerns is to improve the amount of follow-through on benefits that have been promised to veterans living in Indiana.
Walorski talked highly of the rights of Indiana veterans, saying “Hoosiers have taken this responsibility to serve, to protect, to defend, to protect freedom and liberty abroad and also here in the state and I think that when we ask people to go then they deserve every benefit when they come back that they were promised.”
The theme of armed forces continued as Walorski and Bennion discussed the importance of providing a safe environment for service men and women to work. This conversation focused mainly on a piece of legislation, which Walorski called a piece of common sense, that provides protection from retaliation to service men and women who have been the victims of sexual assault crimes and report those crimes.
Walorski believes that the idea of safe reporting zones can be applied at the state level in Indiana, where she said only one in ten girls who are victims of sexual assault report that assault.
“Hoosier common sense” was a theme often referenced by Walorski as she told Bennion she believed the same tools that were used to turn the Indiana economy around could be mirrored at the federal level to help balance the budget.
“A balanced budget means the creation of jobs,” Walorski told Bennion, and suggested that for the national debt to be reduced, the creation of jobs should take precedence in the government.
After the show aired, Bennion said in an interview that she believes it’s important to have guests like Walorski on her show to aid in her central mission of civic education that she pursues with full university support, of which she voiced her gratefulness, through her teaching and in hosting “Politically Speaking.”
Bennion is a political science professor at IUSB and campus director of the American Democracy Project.
“Politically Speaking” airs on WNIT at 2 p.m. on Sundays.