Recent political events have prompted average citizens to take a more active interest in their government, said Oklahoma Congressional District 3 Representative Frank Lucas during a Thursday afternoon town hall meeting.
Approximately 30 people attended the meeting held at Sapulpa City Hall.
“Attendance has been bigger in this cycle (of town hall meetings) than ever before,” Lucas said.
Lucas pointed to a recent town hall forum he attended in the western Oklahoma town of Boise City.
“I had 50 people at that meeting,” he said. Lucas said attendance at the Boise City meeting was remarkable due to the town’s comparatively low population.
The Sapulpa meeting comes on the heels of a Monday appearance by U.S. Senator Tom Coburn and Wednesday’s Tea Party events.
Lucas said congress is currently wrapping up its Easter break and will re-convene next week. Lucas said he has taken the recess as an opportunity to meet face to face with his constituents and listen to their concerns.
“I hope my other 177 Republican congressional colleagues are home doing what I’m doing,” he said.
After an opening statement highlighting recent congressional legislation, Lucas fielded questions from the audience.
Economic issues weighed heavily on the minds of many attending the forum.
“The national media refuses to admit there is a growing discontent,” Lucas said. “The national media has scared people to death ��“ this is not the Great Depression, we’re back to where unemployment was in the early 1980s.”
Lucas said he opposes proposed cap-in-trade legislation. Lucas explained that such legislation would tax energy and agricultural producers based on the amount of greenhouse gasses emitted by their plants or operations.
In what he termed “trickle down taxation,” Lucas said the additional costs would ultimately be passed down to the consumer.
“If you like being warm in the winter, cool in the summer, or using electricity, you’re going to pay more,” under such a plan, he said.
Lucas said he supports a consumption tax that would tax goods and services at the point of purchase, saying economic models indicate robust economic growth under such a tax system.
“Most economists believe the growth rate would double in the first year,” he said.
Lucas said possible currency devaluation resulting from massive debt may ultimately force a change in the nations’ tax structure. “A country can ruin itself just like an individual,” he said.
“The Speaker (Nancy Pelosi) will come un-hinged before she allows a vote (on a consumption tax),” Lucas said. “Sooner or later, she just might have to.”
Lucas said he does not support proposed models for a nationalized health care system, saying it would “kill” competition in the medical field.
However, Lucas did not rule out a limited form of government-administered health insurance. “I personally advocate looking at the German system,” he said.
Lucas said the German system has been in place since the 1870s and depends on the involvement of private insurance companies. The German government mandates that every citizen carry a minimal amount of health care coverage. Citizens who are financially able to pay the premium pay as normal while those unable to pay the basic premium receive government subsidies. If additional coverage is desired, a citizen pays for the extra coverage out-of-pocket.
Lucas said 40 German insurance providers currently compete for the business of 40 million citizens and that Germans are free to choose their insurance provider. “It’s a very competitive market,” he said.
“You’ve got to put customer service back into it,” Lucas said. “You’ve got to have people working for a better product.”
Lucas said that while no health care nationalization is currently before congress, he believes that such a move will happen suddenly and rapidly under a guise of a “dire emergency.”
Lucas said he anticipates a massive shift in American foreign policy over the next year. “I think you will see substantial troop reductions coming out of Iraq this year,” he said. The size and time frame of the withdrawal will depend on the Iraqi government meeting its financial obligations to its civil servants.
Afghanistan, he said, will see a surge in military and civilian personnel. “I’ve been in meetings with President Obama where he said there will be as many civilian personnel as military personnel.”
The Obama administration recently announced plans to send an additional 21,000 troops to Afghanistan. The additional troops would put the number of American troops at approximately 60,000.
Lucas urged his constituents to communicate with their leaders. “What I’m telling people is when they write me and Senator Coburn and Senator Inhofe, is write the White House, too.
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