By Randy Parks
With our country enduring a rising national debt, high unemployment and an overhauled health care system, U.S. Congressman Greg Walden (R-Ore.) made a stop in Burns to visit with local citizens about the issues facing Americans today.
About 50 people attended the town hall meeting on Aug. 12 to hear Walden’s views and ask questions.
Using charts to illustrate his points, Walden explained that the country’s national debt, already at a record high, could triple in 10 years if it remains unchecked. He added that this is the first year that the U.S. House of Representatives did not approve a budget.
Walden then produced a chart illustrating the new national health care system and talked about what he perceived as flaws in the system. Walden stated that the new health care requires everyone to purchase insurance and if they don’t, they can be fined. But a person can pay the fine and then be covered under the system for less than what it would cost for insurance.
Having Congress require citizens to purchase insurance is also unprecedented. “Congress has never dictated how individuals have to spend their money. States have, such as auto insurance, but not Congress,” Walden said. He cautioned that it could open the door to other requirements.
With the November election expected to shake up Congress somewhat, Walden said he is against holding a “lame-duck” session in the months preceding the election winners taking office.
Regarding the national debt, Walden was asked if the country was beyond the point of no return?
“To fix it, we need to sit down and work it out together. It can be done,” Walden answered. “We need to get a handle on reckless spending, and eliminate waste, fraud and abuse of public funds.”
To improve the economy, Walden said the government needs to control spending, ease regulations on private business and prevent the large tax increases on the horizon. “I’d change forest laws, as well,” Walden said. “Get people back in the woods, creating jobs and providing healthy forest management.”
Walden also fielded questions on China purchasing U.S. debt, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, unemployment and the increase of capital investments in foreign counties.
While answering questions, Walden stated the country’s troubles can’t be attributed to one particular party.
“Both parties have strayed,” he said. “We can’t assign blame to just one party. But this plan (pointing to the national debt chart) is one we have to get a new GPS for. The theories aren’t working in reality.
“Our goal should be to get this country back on track, and that means less spending. Sometimes you’ve just got to say, ‘No.’ ”