U.S. Rep. Dan Boren said he voted against the House health care reform bill, but said there are some issues that can be addressed successfully.
Boren, who represents the 2nd Congressional District and is the only Democrat in Oklahoma’s delegation, spoke to a group of Enid business people during a fundraising event Wednesday. He was introduced by Enid oilman Harold Hamm, owner of Continental Resources, who said good people must be kept in Congress and that Boren is one of them.
Boren said health care reforms should be done incrementally, starting with areas both sides of the political aisle agree on, such as requiring insurance to cover pre-existing conditions and selling across state lines. Boren said 26 percent of the people in his district do not have insurance and many of them wait until they are very ill and go to hospital emergency rooms. Health care costs keep going up, he said, which hurts everyone.
Boren also spoke on a variety of topics, including:
• The economy. He said the United States is in a serious economic situation. Three of the five largest banks no longer exist, home foreclosures are up and the unemployment rate hovers near 10 percent.
“The economy is so fragile now. We were on the precipice of 20 percent to 25 percent unemployment. You can’t raise taxes in the middle of a recession,” he said.
He said he doubted Congress would succeed in raising taxes on the energy industry, but said the Bush tax cuts will be eliminated. While the estate tax is gone, estates would be taxed like income in President Barack Obama’s plan. Boren said he supports total elimination of the estate tax. He said most of the Wall Street bailout funds have been paid back, and he hopes the money will be used to pay down the debt.
“Oklahoma has been propped up by the oil and gas industry, but the public feels no one is listening. They should look at the Oklahoma delegation,” he said.
• Congress. Boren said each Senate and House district is apportioned to be an easy one for the incumbent to win re-election. Because of that, races are mostly decided in primaries, he said. His district is 70 percent Democratic, but voted 66 percent for Republican presidential candidate John McCain in the 2008 election.
“I don’t fault Evan Bayh for leaving; hopefully there will be real leadership. People are so fed up we may see a genuine third party candidate who is really in the middle,” he said. Bayh is a U.S. senator from Indiana who recently announced he would not seek re-election.
“There’s just too much brain-dead partisanship, tactical maneuvering for short-term political advantage rather than focusing on the greater good,” Bayh said.
Boren complimented 3rd Congressional District Rep. Frank Lucas, calling him the dean of the Oklahoma delegation. He said he has worked with U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, Lucas and 1st District Rep. John Sullivan often on matters important to the state.
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