Zack Space's Online Town Hall Transcript

August 1, 2007
Congressman Space: Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to join me this evening, and welcome to my Online Town Hall. I look forward to discussing a number of issues our country faces today, as well as receiving your input on various pieces of legislation. Over the course of this Town Hall event, I will answer a combination of questions submitted in advance as well as questions received during the live event. Feel free to click over to the question form to ask about anything that may come up during our conversation. I hope to get to as many questions as possible tonight, so let’s get started! Sandra from New Philadelphia asks: What are you doing, today, to help eliminate or reverse the U.S. Trade Deficit? Congressman Space: Thanks, Sandra, for that great question. I think that you have touched on one of the most important issues facing Appalachian Ohio. Our nation’s manufacturing sector has been ravaged by globalization and so-called free trade agreements that block us from being on a level playing field with countries overseas. This week, I testified before the United States International Trade Commission about the importance of countervailing duties and antidumping measures that force foreign companies to play by the rules. We need to continue to support these types of measures that protect our businesses and keep good American jobs safe. Martin from New Concord asks: Broadband Internet access is a great concern of mine. The only option I have where I live is satellite service, which costs over $80 per month. Is there anything Congress can do to improve broadband access in Appalachia? Congressman Space: Martin, I share your frustration with the lack of access to broadband Internet in the district I serve. Broadband is critical infrastructure that must be in place if we are to attract new business and industry to this region, not to mention the services that are denied to ordinary home consumers. I believe the government must do more to draw broadband providers into Southeastern Ohio’s remote areas, where providing broadband service can be very expensive. Because I share your views, I introduced an amendment to the Farm Bill that makes a loan program run by the United States Department of Agriculture more accessible to broadband providers offering to serve new areas. Rest assured, this is only the first step, and I will continue to be working on this issue. Marty from Mt. Vernon asks: What information do you have about Rolls Royce locating a new operation in Knox County? We already have a Rolls-Royce facility in Mount Vernon and it would certainly be a boost to the economy if R/R would choose to locate another facility in Mount Vernon/Knox County. Thanks! Marty Congressman Space: I have had discussions with various employees who are currently working in the Mount Vernon facility. We have also reached out to company representatives to advocate on behalf of Mount Vernon for any expansion plans that Rolls Royce may have. While I have not received any commitments on behalf of the company, we will continue to promote the Mount Vernon area by all Page 1 of 7

means necessary. Part of our discussions to date have included obtaining governmental funding for purposes of training the workforce which would be required for any such expansion. There are obvious other considerations that Rolls Royce will consider. My objective is to help create an environment that makes Mount Vernon as attractive as possible. Mike from Coshocton asks: I’m very worried about our nation’s system of education. I’m worried that testing provisions are putting too much stress on teachers and children, not to mention the fact that schools are already underfunded. Why are we penalizing teachers and schools when they don’t have the tools to work with already? Congressman Space: Thanks for the question, Mike. No Child Left Behind changed how we treat the role of the federal government in education. However, many of its provisions are punitive and force teachers to “teach to a test” or narrow the scope of the curricula they teach. In September, we have the opportunity to revisit this law and make changes that will make this law more effective; I am excited for that opportunity. Additionally, I am proud to say that I voted to give K-12 schools the highest amount of funding they have received since No Child Left Behind was passed, and I will continue to do the same moving forward. David from Sardis asks: Congressman Space, though I'm not a resident of your district I'd like to thank you for your efforts to bring broadband Internet to the Appalachian region. That said, I'm a little worried that communications companies will use the USDA rural broadband grants to wire rural areas with broadband connections that, while faster, are already considered to be slow in more developed areas and thus end up a temporary solution. Do you believe this is a valid concern, and if so, what do you believe would be the best way to prevent this? Congressman Space: I share your concerns over just what constitutes “Broadband” access. Regrettably, our country applies a very low threshold to the definition of Broadband when compared to that employed by many other countries. Rural America suffers not only from a lack of access to any form of high-speed internet, that service which is provided tends to be inferior to the access available in urban areas. Part of our challenge is to make sure that we get service to a broad area and that the service is of a high quality. We are advocating strongly on behalf of efforts to expand the state of Ohio’s fiber backbone into and throughout Southeastern Ohio. This will give our rural communities more effective options as we move forward. Christine from Gnadenhutten asks: I am retired from the school system SERS but have worked in the public for 20 years and would like to recive my full social security! So I have enough to live on. Please do anything you can to get this through! Congressman Space: Christine, after working for the public good for 20 years, you deserve the full benefits entitled to anyone who paid into the Social Security system. Unfortunately, federal policies known as the Government Pension Offset (GPO) and Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) reduce the Social Security payments of many public employees. I cosponsored legislation to eliminate those provisions, and I hope it will come to the Floor for a vote.

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Robert from Mineral City asks: Do you remember the 1979 Times-Reporter All-Star Game ? I was on your Team I am looking for a Job right now because My Place of Employment is moving to Brazil,so can I put you down as a Reference on any Job Application I fill out? (J/K) My Question is this: do you Plan to Run for President of the United States in the Future ? if so this is how you start,win the People NOW,and they will be loyal to you throughout your Campaign Congressman Space: Yes, I remember you well, Bob. I am sorry to hear about your employment and I regret that you are not alone. Many hard-working families throughout our district have been devastated by the effects of globalization. Current trade agreements make it extremely difficult for American manufacturers to compete with foreign companies that don’t play by the same rules. That’s why I have been working hard to bring awareness to the need to modify trade agreements like NAFTA and CAFTA, and that’s why I testified yesterday in front of the International Trade Commission in hopes that they will maintain efforts to discourage the dumping of foreign steel in our markets. You should feel free to call upon me if I can be of any assistance to you or your family. P.S. Thanks for the encouragement regarding Presidential aspirations, but the only thing on my mind is serving the good folks that put me here. Christopher from Newark asks: Do you agree that there will be total devastation in Iraq and Afghanistan if we pull out before they can police and govern themselves? Can we afford to let extremist nations like Iran influence the vulnerable region? It seems to me if we were to leave within the next 2 years, all we have done so far will be washed away. Do you agree or disagree that we should help police this nation until they can police themselves? Congressman Space: I respect your question, Christopher; thank you. I support withdrawing our troops from Iraq’s civil war in a measured fashion. I have given the President opportunity after opportunity to explain his reasoning for staying the course and for increasing our troops there, but I haven’t been convinced by his reasoning. The Iraqis must meet benchmarks for progress and govern themselves because I refuse to allow the Iraqi government to continue to use American troops as a crutch As for Iran, I believe this nation is one of the most threatening entities of our day. I have voted in support of economic sanctions on the nation in an effort to use every possible means to dissuade Iran from advancing nuclear weapons technologies because I agree that Iran is a very real regional threat. Jill from Mt. Vernon asks: The cost of prescription drugs is outrageous. I don’t know how you and Congress expect me to pay for these drugs I need to stay alive, and still pay for gas (because those prices are ridiculous, too). What are you doing to help me? Congressman Space: Like you, I am outraged that many Americans are not able to afford life-saving medications while the pharmaceutical industry continues to post record profits. We have recently taken steps that we believe will help lessen the cost of prescription drugs, particularly to those on Medicare. Earlier this year the House passed legislation that allows Medicare to negotiate for prescription drug prices. While it is still too soon to tell, we believe that this will help drive down the cost of prescriptions for senior citizens. There are additional measures that we are pursuing that should help, such as allowing for the re-importation of prescription medications through Canada. I will continue to Page 3 of 7

explore every option to ensure quality and affordable healthcare for every American. Sam from Zanesville asks: I remember reading that you were a football star in college. What position did you play? Do you ever wish you could settle Congressional issues on the football field? Congressman Space: While I was not a star, I did play football at Kenyon College. Among other things, it served as a great way to take out your frustrations. I have to tell you that I become very frustrated at times with the partisan legislative process in Washington and I feel like giving a good forearm to some of my colleagues. However, proper Floor decorum prohibits the same. We’ll stick to diplomacy. Cynthia from Freeport asks: As reported in yesterday's Times Reporter, Ohio ranks worst in the nation for annual benefit amounts paid to disabled veterans. What is your position on this? As a parent of a U.S. Marine currently serving in Iraq and as a very active member of the Harrison County Military Support Group, I find this appalling. Congressman Space: Thanks for that question, Cynthia. More importantly, please pass along my thanks to your son for his service. I cannot imagine what your family has gone through, but you must be proud of your son. I am incredibly concerned that Ohio’s veterans may be getting short-changed through no fault of their own. For that reason, I’ve requested an investigation via the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, on which I serve. I also wrote to the President demanding that the next Secretary of Veterans Affairs make this issue his or her top priority. Siegfried from Mount Vernon asks: Dear Congressman Space, There are a lot of important issues being discussed by many politicians, but no one seems to address the issue of identity theft. It would seem, especially in Ohio with the stolen tape that contained information about so many people, some law would be in the works to punish the perpetrators of identity theft, rather than just offering the people whose information might be compromised free ID theft insurance. Congressman Space: There is no question that identity theft is becoming more common in this technological age, and that our government should do more to both prevent its occurrence and punish those who engage in it. Those who have been victimized by identity theft understand just how devastating and difficult to correct it can be. Sadly, our government has been involved in some of the most egregious cases of the disclosure of personal information. Not long ago, the personal information of many veterans was stolen or misplaced by government employees and more recently, the Department of Agriculture permitted the posting of thousands of farmers’ social security numbers on the internet. As a member of the Agriculture Committee, I called for and received a Congressional hearing in which high-ranking members of the USDA were called on to the carpet. Several bills are currently being discussed in Washington that will enhance penalties for identity theft and I intend to support this effort. Eric from Zanesville asks: I saw you on the Colbert report a few months ago. I thought it was very funny. Was there a lot of pressure on you not to do the show? Page 4 of 7

Congressman Space: There were those in Washington who did not want me to appear on the show. However being a big fan I saw the opportunity as a way to reach out to a younger audience that has a sense of humor. I had a blast and I have no regrets. James from Oak Hill asks: What are you doing to assist the Border Patrol Agents that have been unceremoniously thrown in prison for trying to do their jobs? Why would anyone want to become a Border Patrol Agent knowing that an illegal drug dealing border invaders can get amnesty for testifying against them? Congressman Space: Thank you, James, for that question. I agree that Border Patrol Agents Ramos and Compean should not be penalized for doing their jobs. That’s why I’m a cosponsor of a bill to pardon them. I also voted for an amendment to the State, Commerce, and Justice Appropriations bill that prohibited any funds in the bill from being used to incarcerate Ignacio Ramos and Jose Alonso Compean. We need to send the message that we respect the work that our border patrol agents do. To that end, I supported the Homeland Security Appropriations bill that provided funding to add 3,000 more agents to protect our borders. Helen from Warsaw asks: I am from Coshocton,Ohio. I would like to thank you for meeting and talking to the new owners of Pretty Products. Our town can not afford to keep loseing our plants. Can you tell me what can be done to keep this plant in our town? Congressman Space: My office is working closely with local and state officials in an effort to keep Pretty Products in Coshocton. I am very aware of the importance of this facility to the area and will do everything I can to encourage it to stay. I should tell you that the Mayor, your County Commissioners, and the Port Authority Director have been working very hard with our office to do our best. Likewise we have received the cooperation of Governor Strickland’s office. Finally, by all indications, Pretty management has expressed a willingness to give strong consideration to our proposals. Lori from Chillicothe asks: You recently voted for the Farm Bill, which Reps. Hobson and Schmidt both voted against. How will the farm bill affect farmers and those in agribusiness in the Scioto Valley area of Ross and Pike counties? Thanks. This bill will, in short, allow American farmers to continue to produce the safest, most abundant, and most affordable food source on the planet. It is good for the farmers of Ohio’s 18th District. It expands conservation programs, it provides for an aggressive yet measured approach to energy issues, it adequately funds the nutrition programs, and most importantly, its commodity provisions offer small family-run farms the safety net they need in order to continue farming. In addition, through our efforts, this bill contains important provisions regarding interstate meat shipment, rural broadband access, and administrative support at the local level. I’ve heard many farmers in my district ask for these changes during our extensive Farm Tour earlier this year. I will be traveling the district this month to meet with area farmers to provide them with an update on the bill. Hope to see you there! John from Chillicothe asks: It would appear that if the businesses who hire illegal immigrants Page 5 of 7

were severely penalized, then immigrants would not have jobs and would not come to our country. Is this being looked at? Congressman Space: John, I appreciate that question. I support employee verification as part of the solution to our illegal immigration problem. If employers know that they will be penalized for knowingly hiring illegal immigrants, that should deter them from doing so. I know my position isn’t popular with a number of industries, but tougher employer penalties protect American jobs for Americans. I should also add, on this topic, that I am opposed to amnesty for illegal immigrants who have already broken our country’s laws by unlawfully crossing our borders. Mary from Cambridge asks: The prices at the gas pump are really hurting my family. We can barely afford to drive to and from work anymore, since we have to travel so far to get there. What are you going to do to help my family out? Congressman Space: Mary, your family is feeling the pinch like so many other families in Southeastern Ohio. I cosponsored legislation that would give the government broader authority to prosecute price gouging by oil companies, as well as broader authority to go after foreign oil producers when they jack up the price unnecessarily. I also plan to introduce legislation this fall that will give rural commuters tax relief when the price of gas gets too high. While these measures may help in the short-term, the real solution is one that will take years to address as we develop alternative energy sources and wean ourselves from foreign sources of oil. I hope that’s helpful to you! Bobby from Chillicothe asks: I have an issue with disability Social Security. It just takes too long to get the process through. I started in October of 2005 and it looks like it may be 2008 before my turn comes. Social Security people say they are short of help to speed up the process. Congressman Space: I am sorry that you are having problems with the Social Security Administration. Unfortunately, you are not alone. I have been informed that it often times takes a year or two years to get your Social Security disability benefits. The Social Security program is intended to help retirees and the disabled. If you are having difficult receiving your disability benefits, please contact one of my three district offices, which are in Chillicothe, Zanesville, and Dover. Oftentimes my staff can help cut through some of the red tape with federal agencies. Please call my district office toll free at 866-9107557. Please know that I will work in Washington to make sure that the Social Security Administration is adequately staffed so that can better handle their casework. That concludes our Online Town Hall for this evening. I have really enjoyed our conversation, and I really appreciate you taking the time to be with us tonight. As many of you may know, Congress is about to enter our August district work period, so I will be making a number of appearances all over the district in the coming weeks. I hope to meet all of you in person when I get back home. For those of you who are interested in learning more about the Farm Bill and how it impacts so many people back in the district, I will be holding a Farm Bill Update Tour. This is a series of town hall meetings where I can update you on all of the provisions of the 2007 Farm Bill and take your questions. Dates and times are below. If you have more questions, please Page 6 of 7

feel free to write in via the form on my website at http://space.house.gov or call toll free 866-9107577. Thank you once again! Tuesday, August 7th - Holmes County Senior Center, 224 N. Clay St, Millersburg, 8:00 am Wednesday, August 8th - Harrison Community Hospital, 951 East Market Street, Cadiz, OH, 8:00 am Monday, August 13th - Lee's Banquet House, 428 East Front Street, Logan, OH, 9:00 am Tuesday, August 14th - Muskingum County Fair, 2:00 pm

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Prepared by LeftofOhio.com.

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