Reed holds town hall meetings in Watkins and Penn Yan
FINGER LAKES--Congressman Tom Reed (R-Corning) held four village hall meetings last Saturday with residents from Watkins Glen, Penn Yan, Corning and Phelps.
In Watkins Glen: A crowd of some 50 people attended a town hall meeting held by Congressman Tom Reed (R-Corning) in Watkins Glen, Saturday, Dec. 15. The focus was on the federal government’s “fiscal cliff,” spending and taxes, wind and solar power, and the recent school shooting in Connecticut.
The majority of the discussion, and Reed’s introduction before questions, was about government spending and the “fiscal cliff.” Reed explained if no agreement is made by Jan. 1, 2013, then the federal tax rates will revert back to the 2001 levels. He added this means $2.4 trillion in automatic cuts. Reed proposed finding cuts in mandatory spending. He explained that cutting costs in discretionary and defense would only be one year cuts.
Reed added he would support some military cuts as long as they did not impact the safety of service members overseas. Another area he said was completely off limits to him was veterans benefits. Reed explained they have earned those benefits.
When asked about raising the Social Security eligibility age of seniors from 65 to 67, he said not on current seniors. He said, “that’s not fair.” He said he would support the change for people who are 55 and younger at the time.
Watkins Glen teacher Liam O’Kane asked about the Bush era tax cuts. He argued if the point of keeping the tax credits is because losing them would cause job makers to cut jobs, how many jobs have been produced since the cuts started? O’Kane said the cuts were enacted in 2001.
Reed was also asked about signing Grover Norquist’s pledge not to raise taxes. Reed responded he signed the pledge because he does not believe raising taxes will solve the fiscal problems. He also said he would not renounce his philosophy about not raising taxes. However, Reed added he thought raising revenue will help in lowering the country’s debt. He suggested cleaning up the tax code.
Another resident asked about gun control on rapid fire, high capacity guns in the wake of the Connecticut school shooting, Friday, Dec. 14. Reed said he is hesitant to get into the gun control discussion so soon after a tragedy.
“When you take one right away, you move closer to taking another away,” said Reed. During discussion, he explained the states control the exact limits placed on owning guns.
Resident Ruth Young asked Reed to support wind and solar energy more. She suggested that the closing Sikorsky plant and former workers could do wind and solar power production. She added the workers are already trained and now need jobs. Reed replied he does support wind and solar, as part of his comprehensive domestic energy plan.
In Penn Yan: More than 30 residents attended a village hall meeting hosted by 29th Congressional District Representative Tom Reed (R-Corning) Saturday, Dec. 15 to discuss some of the major issues facing the district, as well as the nation.
High on the list of discussion topics was hydraulic-fracturing (fracking) and what stance Reed will take regarding the Finger Lakes region. Reed said he would not support a statewide ban on fracking, saying different areas in the state have different geography and there needs to be a flexibility to develop it in certain areas. He also said fracking is not right for every place in the state and would consider exemptions in certain areas.
“We have been supportive of exemption in the Finger Lakes,” Reed said. “The watershed area of the Finger Lakes has a heavy tourist-based economy. If Skaneateles and New York City are exempted from that, then why not the Finger Lakes?”
Reed also said while he does receive thousands of dollars from oil and gas companies, it is not the reason for his stance on fracking. He said since fracking is more of a state issue, it should be decided at the state level rather than federal.
“Whatever New York State does, it is pretty clear that natural gas is going to be a significant part of energy policy nationwide,” Reed said.
Reed also said he is onboard with renewable and alternative sources of energy, but he also said they would not be a solution to the problem. He said it would be difficult to properly fund projects and research while the country is trillions of dollars in debt.
As far as the looming debt crisis goes, Reed said he has been working in his Washington, D.C. office with the rest of congress to avert the fiscal cliff. He said he was much more optimistic about the situation four weeks ago than he is currently. Reed said he believes whatever congress comes up with, it will be a “Band-Aid” solution and not solve the problem long-term.
“The conversation hasn’t really gotten to the spending side of the equation,” Reed said. “It’s been on the revenue side. That’s why I think whatever solution we will have will be short-term.”
Reed said the popular notion of raising taxes on the richest 2 percent of the population would not in fact solve the debt crisis, although some members of the audience agreed that it would at least help the situation. Reed said spending cuts need to be made in mandatory spending for a long term solution, rather than raising taxes to generate more revenue.
“When you get up into mandatory spending lines, you start downsizing the government long term,” Reed said.
Reed said no matter what happens with the fiscal cliff situation, the country will also have to deal with the debt ceiling in the spring or summer of 2013.