GUTHRIE — Congressman Frank Lucas, R-Cheyenne, began his annual Fourth of July recess Tuesday by hosting a town hall meeting at Guthrie City Hall where he discussed a variety of topics ranging from the growing federal deficit to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Lucas says he tries to hold about 50 town hall meetings across his 3rd Congressional District when Congress is out. He also had meetings in Cushing, Perkins and Stillwater. More meetings are scheduled Wednesday in Meeker, Prague, Stroud and Chandler.
“I’m a big believer in these things,” Lucas said. “I try to talk to my constituents about what is going on back East (in Congress) that affects all of us. I talk about the issues of the day and the challenges that are out there.”
Lucas told the capacity audience that a lot has changed in the country since last year’s town hall meetings and not for the better.
“Since we last got together it has been quite a roller-coaster on the national scene,” he said.
Lucas said the nation’s economy faltered in part due to the stock market crash and the bubble bursting on the national housing boom.
He criticized Congress and the Obama administration for having to approve a $750 billion bailout for the nation’s financial institutions and the passage of an almost $800 billion stimulus package.
“You talk about shoveling cash out the door with minimal instruction or direction,” Lucas said. “No, I didn’t vote for either of them. If the economy doesn’t pick up this summer will the Obama administration ask for another stimulus bill?”
He also was critical of the climate change bill that recently passed the House of Representatives, which in part is designed to help reduce greenhouse gases.
Lucas said this “cap-and-trade plan” will institute an almost trillion-dollar national energy tax that will cost every American family who currently is suffering through the nation’s economic recession.
The Oklahoma congressman previously announced his support for legislation known as the American Energy Act, which is designed to provide long-term solutions to the nation’s energy problems by encouraging the production of all forms of American energy including nuclear, clean-coal technology, wind and solar power and traditional forms of energy.
“We have got to stop our dependence on foreign oil,” Lucas said. “Our dependence on places like Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iraq for oil is absolutely scary.”
Lucas also touched on pending health-care legislation in Congress, which includes discussion for the creation of a government-run health-care system to help reduce the number of uninsured individuals.
“I want to help these folks,” he said. “I’m not a proponent of government-run health care. If you go to a Canadian-style of national health service you run the risk of driving all of these other (private) programs out of existence. I hope we can come up with something that is an improvement without crossing that bridge.”
Lucas also was questioned about the U.S. military future in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
“There will be a U.S. presence in both countries for some years to come,” he said.
Lucas added while progress has been made in Iraq, Afghanistan is a still a hot-spot.
“The bad guys (Al-Qaeda and Taliban) are making their stand in Afghanistan,” Lucas said. “It’s gotten more complicated there. We’ve had to increase our troops by 20,000. I don’t think anyone knows for sure what the outcome will be in Afghanistan.”
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