posted on August 12, 2011 14:56
Congresswoman Kathy Hochul spoke to a smattering of local residents about debt, spending, and healthcare this afternoon in Attica, during her "Congress on Your Corner" public forum event.
It was Hochul's first town hall-style meeting in this corner of the district since her convincing special election victory back in May for New York's 26th Congressional District. Hochul used the first part of today's event to introduce herself to Wyoming County residents. Hochul did very little campaigning in the southern reaches of her district during the race this spring.
"My dad was involved in starting a small computer company...and my mother, my first day out of school she asked if I'd start her small business, a flower and gift shop," Hochul said. "She didn't like the flowers that were done at my brother's wedding the year before – leave it to my mother!"
The congresswoman then jumped into the debt ceiling debate, echoing President Obama when she explained that debt ceiling raises have been a common course of action for years on Capitol Hill. Hochul also said she's willing to take part in discussions on major spending cuts. But she draws the line at so-called "across-the-board cuts."
"I've seen already, there's a lot of waste," she said. "I've voted on any given afternoon to cut as much as $7-billion from development of infrastructure in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Especially Pakistan, who aren't exactly our friends," she said.
"But there are also some programs, that when you cut them, there are consequences you may not be expecting," Hochul said. She later used the U.S. Commodities and Future Trading Commission as an example, where budget cuts have led to layoffs and shut downs in the enforcement division.
"(Enforcers) regulate the oil speculators, who have the biggest say in driving up the price of oil," she said. "So that's like sending the Sheriff home in the Wild West, and letting Jesse James shoot up the town."
Hochul entertained questions from several attendees, including Steven Moultrup of Orangeville. He expressed concerns on energy wind turbines, which have been a controversy for years in Wyoming County. Moultrup insisted that wind energy companies have incorrect data on wildlife populations, specifically bald eagles that reside in the area of the turbines and may be injured by the rotors. Moultrup also mentioned natural gas hydrofracking, which he said Wyoming County will be a candidate for. Moultrup says drinking water supplies in the entire county watershed could be affected by the drilling practice.
Hochul promised to take the issues under advisement, noting that she needed to study the debate more thoroughly. "I never shoot off the hip," Hochul said.
Nick Olexenko of LeRoy also made the trek to Attica to hear Hochul speak, and he mentioned three points of contention: jobs for college graduates, national healthcare, and overzealous military spending.
"Back when I was coming out of school, there were jobs everywhere - you didn't have to go looking for one," said Olexenko. "That doesn't seem to the be the case anymore...I think it's tragic that these kids can't find a job here, after paying all that money for college."
Hochul also reminded Olexenko that she is the newest member of the House Armed Services Committee. When he voiced concerns that the U.S. didn't need military bases in friendly countries anymore, she said that would be her first order of business at the next committee meeting.