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Hundreds turn out for town hall meeting

By: Art Garcia, Telegraph Correspondent
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An estimated 700 constituents attended Saturday’s El Dorado County town hall meeting called by 4th District Congressman Tom McClintock at the Oak Ridge High School gymnasium. They braved a cold, damp day to hear McClintock speak for the first 15 minutes of a nearly two-hour meeting at which he answered questions that roamed the political landscape but spotlighted federal government fiscal and monetary policies, inflation and health care. Attendance was heavy with seniors but included a smattering of teenagers. McClintock opened with a brief discussion of one of his main monetary worries, the threat of inflation, which McClintock said would be “devastating to the economy. The other thing that troubles me is the fiscal policy side. … We’ve done a pretty lousy job of running the economy the past 40 years.” He called his shots fairly, as he said, “giving credit where credit is due.” He pointed out that during only four years in the four decades since 1970 has the federal government carried a budget surplus. “Those four years were under the Clinton Administration. Every other year ran a deficit.” McClintock called the federal deficit during the eight years George W. Bush occupied the White House “unconscionable.” Coming up for a vote in less than two weeks is a bill McClintock said “will increase the national debt by another $1.9 trillion, which breaks down to nearly $25,000 for every family in America. That will be tacked on to your future tax bill that you will be obligated to pay, just as surely as if it were on your credit card statement for this month,” he said. “Or our kids get to pay it back.” McClintock said the national debt threatens the future of the economy. “I’m deeply concerned about how these policies are robbing us of our future economic growth,” said McClintock, who served 22 years in the California Legislature before being elected to Congress in 2008. He said it’s obvious the American people have rejected the Obama health care proposal with the decisive vote last week in Massachusetts that is sending Republican Scott Brown to the U.S. Senate to fill the seat long held by the late Edward “Teddy” Kennedy. “I hope this (Brown victory) is going to become an opportunity to pass the kind of reforms I believe command bipartisan support and are desperately needed in our healthcare system,” McClintock said, noting he’s co-sponsored a Republican prepaid refundable tax credit for health insurance. He described this as “a kind of health voucher that would bring into the reach of every family a basic plan they could choose according to their own needs and that they can own, regardless who their employer is. And they could change it if it failed to meet their needs. After the town hall gathering, McClintock expanded for the Telegraph views and issues he considers critical for resolution. A part of health care system reform, for instance, should include scrapping the law that makes it illegal for Californians to buy health coverage from insurance carriers based in other states. “There are 1,100 companies selling health insurance in the United States; only a few can sell in California,” he said. “We don’t require Californians to shop only at California retailers or to bank only with California banks or buy gas just from California companies. Why do we require Californians to only buy their health insurance from California companies?” He was asked how critical legislation such as health care reform can be passed in as heavy a partisan climate as exists in Washington, not to mention California, with Republicans in Congress voting a straight party-line “no” on the health care package approved by the House with a Senate version awaiting endorsement. “You’re starting to see bipartisanship in healthcare,” McClintock countered. “Forty House Democrats crossed party lines, defied their president and their legislative leaders and voted with the Republicans against the health care plan, which passed the House only 215-210. We just saw a huge bipartisan vote in Massachusetts, where Republicans have only 15 percent of the registered vote.” Mark Charlton, a Shingle Springs consultant, said the town hall session was “exceptional.” He found the affair “helpful and informative” but suggested McClintock’s staff (present at the meeting) also should speak “about what they’re doing because if you call the congressman’s office, that’s who you get.” “It was really good to have a meeting with this many people who have a deep concern for the United States and the Constitution,” said Steve Ferry, an El Dorado Hills Realtor and broker who owns Folsom Lake Realty. “God bless these people for showing up. This is great.” Susan FaGalde of El Dorado Hills, a small business owner, was particularly interested in McClintock’s comments about health care. She said her impression is that “business is going to go on just as usual. Those involved in health care are now very comfortable. The system is going to continue the way it has. The threat of change, of regulation, is gone.” FaGalde doesn’t “necessarily” want to see the government take over health care “but I do feel there needs to be some regulation. Costs are spiraling out of control and as a health care purchaser, I don’t want to continue paying for those who are uninsured.”