Jerry J. Herrmann

Miami News Record

“This is the start of a new Congress, so it is time to wipe the slate clean,” Dan Boren, D-Okla. told about 50 people present for his town hall meeting Thursday morning in Miami, before heading to Grove to a crowd of over 100 people.

The congressman, who represents Grove and the 2nd Congressional District in Oklahoma, thanked the law enforcement officers present to make all of the people present safe. He started with a presentation and then concluded with questions and answers.

Boren reminded everyone present that the United States has gone through tough times during the past two years. “Oklahoma has fared a lot better than the US as a whole, but we’re not immune to the recession,” he said.

As for the national debt, Boren said the government is only bringing in $2.14 trillion in revenue, while spending $3.49 trillion. That has to stop, he said.

Boren said of the discretionary spending, in 1970 45 percent of it was for entitlements. That increased to 45 percent in 1990 and 55 percent in 2010.

“Some people are calling for the abolishment of the US Department of Education. That would only save $89 billion and we have an annual $1.65 trillion deficit,” he said.

Boren said a new poll out shows people across the nation want foreign aid cut, which would save $53 billion. “Israel doesn’t exist if we do away with it,” he said. Three things are going on in Congress currently: the Continuing Resolution, 2011-2012 budget, and the debt limit.

The Continuing Resolution covers the next eight months of government. Without it there will be a shutdown of national government, he said. Boren said the CR the House passed calls for $61 billion in cuts over the next eight months. “There were 700 amendments on that resolution. I voted for the amendments to cut $20.5 million from the Endowment of the Arts, $8.9 million for the EPA; $42 million for the Institute for Peace, and $455 million for the F-35 alternate engine,” he said. Boren said a firm in Grove would do better if the F-35 alternate engine is killed. The bad thing about the Republicans continuing resolution legislation is that 55,000 Headstart teachers will lose their jobs, community health centers will be closed and Pell Grants will be cut big time. “The problem with this legislation is that the cuts aren’t done evenly,” he said.

Boren said he supported a bill that would cut $120 billion with across the board cuts. “The current cuts (in the GOP bill) hurts rural Oklahoma big time. It they make these cuts we will eventually send kids to McAlester,” he said.

The US Senate is not taking the House GOP CR legislation out, so someone is going to have to blink, he said. Boren believes a compromise will be reached where $30 billion will be cut. He said the 2012 budget is all important. As for the nation’s debt limit, he believes it will be raised a couple of times.

As for Social Security, he said, “Social Security is not just about people who are going to retire. The last four years applications are up 50 percent for Social Security Disability. A lot of people are trying to get SSD that don’t need it.” Miami Mayor Brent Brassfield said it has been a joy working with Boren the past seven years. “I want to thank you for your support on the flood mitigation study and work on the Tar Creek Cleanup Area,” he said. Boren said even if the unions don’t exist, the US can compete with China, where the average income is $4,000 a year, and Cambodia where people get 20 cents an hour, is for the United States to invest in education from Head Start to higher education.

“We need a manufacturing base. Look at Toyota, its pickups are built in San Antonio, Texas. Boren said the Environmental Protection Agency, which formed under Nixon, has gone too far. It is now operating outside of Congress’ approval.

Social Security, he said, needs to be addressed now. “We’ve got to deal with changes for the 25-37 year olds. We can’t solve it in a year. We’ve got to slowly turn it for those my age.”

As for the size of government, Boren said, “So many people say they want these things done but want the taxes kept low. That is hard.” He also reminded those present that he supports drilling for oil and natural gas in the US. “I’m for drilling everywhere. If our nation switched over to natural gas it would be cheaper and cleaner,” he said.