PERRY — If state voters want reform at the national level, they need to urge friends and family members to petition their federal lawmakers. That’s what U.S. Rep. Frank Lucas told constituents at a town hall meeting.
About 100 people turned out in Perry’s municipal building, which hosted one of four town halls Lucas held Thursday in the 3rd Congressional District.
Lucas spoke to the crowd for about 20 minutes about his opposition to many of the key Democrat-backed issues in Congress before taking questions from the crowd.
"Like your neighbors, you’re frightened and furious about what’s going on in Congress,” said Lucas, R-Cheyenne.
Lucas called the proposed health care bill "at best a work in progress” and said he doesn’t support the measure in its current form. Instead he supports a proposal backed by Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Muskogee, to provide a tax credit for Americans to buy health insurance policies.
"I’m in favor of letting market forces improve programs as opposed to a government-run program,” Lucas said.
He noted that he didn’t support the bill to bail out banks or a measure that would cap emissions and charge companies that exceeded those limits, both passed by Congress.
"When I can’t be sure on how your money is going to be spent, I’m going to vote no,” Lucas said.
The crowd at the Perry town hall ranged from young families with children to retirees. They listened to Lucas’ points and offered sporadic applause.
Many in the Perry crowd said they agreed with Lucas’ positions on the issues and wondered how they could work to change the minds of other lawmakers.
"When do we turn it back to ‘We the People,’ instead of ‘We the Lobbyists’?” asked Dan May of Stillwater.
"Reach out to your business associates, your friends in other states,” Lucas said.
"In the times we live in, you better be involved. You don’t just have the right to petition your government, you have an obligation.”
Perry resident Jim Franklin said Congressional leaders should work together more.
"You’re just one person in Congress,” Franklin said. "You need to be reaching across the aisle and working together for ‘We the People.’ This is not for the people, by the people. That’s what we’re angry about, that’s why you’re seeing so many people at these town hall meetings.”
Wearing a Sooner Tea Party T-shirt, Casey McDaniel of Wellston expressed his frustration about government’s role in social programs.
"It’s not Congress’s job to help people, it’s our job to help these people,” McDaniel said. "At what point do we decide that we’re going to follow the Constitution or not?”
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