Congressman Andy Harris Tours Northwest Carroll County
In the front showroom of The Taney Corp. on Allendale Lane in Taneytown, there is a sweeping, walnut staircase that ascends through a cream-colored aperture in the ceiling. If you stand beneath it and look up, as owner Jeff Glass invited a group of local dignitaries who had assembled around visiting Congressman Andy Harris, R-District 1, you would see the staircase has “an elliptical shape, a sort of that egg shape to it,” Glass said. “Very unusual type of stair.”
Harris visited The Taney Corp. on Friday as part of a tour of businesses in the northwest corner of the county and his district. He would later visit Taneytown-based pump manufacturer Flowserve before heading to the Hampstead area to drop in on Sauder’s Eggs and commercial spice-maker Fuchs North America.
At The Taney Corp., Harris spoke with Glass and workers about their business of custom stair building, first purchased by Glass’ father in 1962. They discussed the curving of fine woods and the training of employees with an aptitude for it.
And there was the answering of stair-related historical trivia posed to Harris and his entourage, such as what to call the small ivory buttons installed in the posts at the bottom of the sweeping walnut showcase stair banisters. (Answer: They’re known as “brag buttons.”)
“If you go in a house and there is a wooden button, that signifies there is still a mortgage on the house,” Glass said. “When you pay the mortgage, you burn the mortgage, you pull that plug out, you put the ashes in the hole and you put an ivory button in to indicate you’ve paid your mortgage, and that’s why it’s called a brag button.”
Harris began the day at Taneytown’s Thunderhead Bowl, eating breakfast with business and community leaders, and then spending the better part of an hour answering questions from constituents, delving deep at times into policy.
One man in the audience asked about health care, noting that, “I have not heard one good reason why I should pay for somebody else’s health care.”
It is a sentiment with which Harris agreed.One man in the audience asked about health care, noting that, “I have not heard one good reason why I should pay for somebody else’s health care.”
“We have grown into an income retribution country,” he said. “The fact of the matter is, it actually goes even beyond that because you pay for health care for people who aren’t taking care of themselves.”
Harris is not a fan, he said, of the Medicaid expansion that took place under the President Barack Obama-era Affordable Care Act, at least as it was passed by the then-Democrat controlled Congress.
“We added 10 million people to Medicaid, and the biggest expansion was what we called able-bodied adults without dependents,” he said, that is, low-income adults without children or disabilities became eligible for health insurance coverage through state-operated — but federally funded — Medicaid programs.
“All we wanted to do was put a work-training, work-seeking requirement on that. ‘We’ll help you, but we’re going to help you get out of the need for the help,’ ” Harris told the group at breakfast. “The pushback was tremendous. For the life of me, I can’t understand.”
Harris believes in helping those that need it, but also helping them to help themselves so they do not need that help forever, he explained to his audience.
He also believes in the power of a growing economy to float all boats, to generate jobs for those who need to help so they can help themselves, and to increase wages for those already employed.
He listened with great interest at his third stop of the day, Flowserve, as general manager Chris Heacock explained how the company has set up a 4,000-hour machinist apprenticeship program to train young people in the use of fine machining tools — a necessity, Heacock pointed out, because a whole generation of skilled machinists are now nearing retirement.
And those machinists in a nondescript block-shaped building in Taneytown were busy Friday, as evident in a tour, creating pump and turbine components that are shipped worldwide — according to Heacock, every molten salt solar plant in the world has pumps manufactured in Taneytown.
It’s companies like this, Harris said later in an interview, that can really help the economy grow, and tax reform, such as the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act currently under consideration in the U.S. House of Representatives, that can help those companies do it.
“Tax reform for a company like this is incredibly important,” he said. “It’s not only a tax cut, but an increase in pay over time as businesses invest, become more productive, and pass some of those savings on to their employees.”