Congressman Greg Walden hosted a town hall meeting in Lakeview on the afternoon of Friday, March 22, at Memorial Hall in the Lake County Courthouse.
The Republican state representative opened the meeting with a discussion of the ongoing budgetary discussions at the federal level.
Walden specifically cited the long-term effects of increased governmental spending on the economy, and touched upon future generations that will shoulder that debt.
One area that Walden touched upon with visual aids was the subject of foreign debt ownership.
In 2012, the percentage of debt held by foreign interests was at $11.5 trillion, or 48 percent, overall, of the total. Conversely, this figure was $2.4 trillion (19 percent) in 1990 and $283 billion (6 percent) in 1970.
“Clearly, the economy still needs help,” Walden said.
The congressman also spoke briefly on natural resource management, and its importance as it relates to improved forest health and job creation.
“It seems we spend four times (as much) fighting fire as we do preventing fire,” Walden said.
Walden noted a lack of proper management leads to deteriorating forest health, as well as increased fire risk.
He also said he wasn’t fully satisfied with the analysis associated with the Barry Point fire event of last year.
The majority of the meeting was open to the general public’s inquiries on multiple topics.
Questions pertained to ongoing investigations of the Sept. 11, 2012 attacks on U.S. Ambassadors in Benghazi, Libya.
Regarding an audience member’s questioning of the potential for Congress to override orders made by military officers in the field at the time, Walden said the investigation continues and is by no means over.
“There’s still more to this story,” he said.
Renewable energy was also a subject broached upon at the meeting, as Walden voiced both his continued support of biomass-based energy for the purpose of improving forest health and job creation in economically depressed rural areas such as Lake County.
Walden additionally expressed interest in a proposal brought forth by an audience member for geothermal development on the site of a former uranium mill.
Walden also commented on concerns of non-timely, delayed care for veterans through the veteran’s administration.
“I see the delays, and it’s really bothersome,” Walden said. “It’s unacceptable.”
Other subjects touched upon included the ongoing gun control debate and non-partisan politics at the local municipal level.
Regarding background checks for gun purchases, Walden said he prefers leaving this legislation in the hands of individual states.
The root of the horrific shootings of recent times is in mental health-related issues, he said.
“Another law in the books I’m not convinced is going to solve the problem,” he said.
An extended discussion on the nation’s Constitution occurred with an audience member that claimed anyone critical of the federal government is deemed a domestic terrorist.
Walden confirmed he voted in support of the Patriot Act in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
“I actually have a deep faith in the Constitution, but I’ll be the first to tell you, I’m not a constitutional lawyer,” Walden said. “I believe there are countries and individuals out there that want to do us grave harm.”
Contrary to the claim of the audience member, Walden read through the text of the Patriot Act pertaining to detainment requirements, which does not extend to United States citizens.
Other inquiries pertained to the Farm Bill, which Walden said passed the Senate last year but did not get to the floor by the end of the year, so the process for passage must start from scratch once more this year.