By Jennifer Kneuss
"We have to cut the deficit spending," emphasized Congressman Bob Gibbs as he addressed more than 120 people at a local Town Hall meeting March 7. They were gathered to hear what the freshman Congressman had to say about his first two months in Washington, D.C.
"Last week we passed a continuing resolution (CR) that cut four billion dollars out of the budget," noted Gibbs, adding that these cuts were just the very beginning of deep cuts. "Without action, we are projecting a $1.64 trillion deficit in 2011. That is 359 percent higher than the deficit was in 2008." He pointed to a screen that showed the high portion of debt that the U.S. now owes to China and other countries.
One attendee stood and commented that the national debt is leading to the demise of the country, exclaiming, "The number one problem for our country is our debt. If we don't fix this, then it won't be long until we won't have to worry about anything else."
Steve Stokey, a local businessman, agreed, saying, "There is a Proverb that says that the borrower is a servant to the lender. We have to get our debt under control, or we are in deep, deep trouble. Part of the problem is that, while we look ahead at the next quarter, or the next manufacturing year, the Chinese think in generations." Stokey also noted that it is difficult for American manufacturers to compete in the current system, saying, "The Fair Tax bill would level the playing field and make our businesses competitive," to which the Congressman replied, "I have already co-sponsored that bill."
Gibbs emphasized the need for the government to become much more friendly to small business in America. He pointed out that too many regulations are put into place without a thorough cost versus benefit analysis being done, thus hampering a company's ability to succeed in the marketplace.
Energy was also a predominant topic of the evening.
"We need to develop a diversified portfolio for our energy needs, including coal, nuclear, oil, solar, wind, and bio-digestion," Gibbs stated emphatically. "We are more dependent on foreign oil now than ever before in our history. We will not have job growth as long as we have a volatile, unreliable energy source," he said, and referred to the current unrest in Libya as an example. Gibbs noted his support of offshore drilling as well as drilling on American soil to meet energy needs, while stressing the need for careful regulation of the oil and gas drilling industry, and the need to protect the environment while doing so.
Difficulties faced by the Social Security system were raised as an issue during the question and answer period, particularly the frustration of those who found that they have paid into the system for years, only to find that their future is now unsure.
"The reason Social Security is no longer well funded by enough younger workers is because we lost a great deal of our population, about 55 million, from abortion," pointed out Jenny Ramsey. Many in the audience applauded her statement.
Others were deeply concerned about the implications of the Patriot Act, and the constitutionality of that and other decisions made by the Federal government. Said attendee Hombre Liggett, "A large part of (our problem) is because we have dismantled the authority and restraint that the Constitution is supposed to bring to Capitol Hill, to our judicial system, and to the Executive branch."
Those attending the Town Hall meeting thoroughly questioned their new Congressman for well over an hour on a broad variety of topics, all of which Gibbs addressed in a straightforward manner.
"I like the direction the Congressman is going, cutting spending," said Don Lee of Mineral City, in summing up the evening. "It's got to be done. We are on a path to destruction in this country, if we don't get that under control."