While the number one concern was about repowering the Cayuga Power Plant, questions on a variety of issues were asked and discussed. Following are his comments on many of the issues discussed:
Representation in Tompkins County
We have a great team working at the local, county, state and federal level. It's meant to be done in a cooperative, collaborative way and that's what I think is the best way to get issues resolved and problems solved -- people working together and finding that common ground.
A Doc Fix
How doctors are paid under Medicare. By the end of this month if this doesn't get rectified our providers are looking at about a 24% cut in their reimbursement rates. We have to fix that. We're real close to permanently taking care of it. The big issue in Washington, though, is the Senate wants to fix it permanently but they don't want to pay for it. We in the House have taken the position that I've supported: that if we're going to adopt policy we've got to have a mechanism to pay for it whenever and however we can.
The Ukraine and Russia
It's very concerning so see what Russia's doing, the aggressiveness that they have demonstrated, their disregard of international norms and processes. At this point in time we did support a vote in the House to send a message to our allies that when this type of thing occurs we're going to stand with you. Right now we're in a gray area where we've got to wait for this vote to occur and see where that vote goes. We think we know where it's going to go, that they're going to vote for succession and have a split Ukraine with a Crimea region.
But at the end of the day I don't support military engagement there. There is not a tremendous amount of, if any, support for military engagement in the Ukraine. I think we're looking at how to deal with the ramifications of a split Ukraine and, going forward, making sure we send a message to Russia that you can't play this game this way.
Repowering the Cayuga Power Plant
I have officially gone on record supporting the repowering of the Cayuga plant. I submitted my comments to the PSC. I remain committed to that position. To me this is about jobs. It is about protecting that tax base right here in the local community. We have weighed in with the Public Service Commission to support the repowering efforts. We sent a representative to the public hearing.
I would anticipate that the decision from the PSC is going to be coming down here rather shortly because I think they have all the information. They have taken in a lot of that public input. Also, we just had the decision over in Dunkirk. In Dunkirk there was a decision where they supported the repowering. The parties came together and negotiated their power purchase agreements and their transmission roles, and the plant will be repowered and stay in existence.
Here is Lansing we're having a different approach. In Chautauqua County it was united with one voice being sent to Albany to support the Dunkirk facility and keep it open. Here they are receiving a different message that the community is split on the issue and they're taking that into consideration. That may be causing some further delays on the application.
I'm not in Washington to maintain the status quo. The status quo is not working. If it was the war on poverty would have been won. So we're going to do something different. I'm going to redeliver these programs in a way that teaches people how to fish. How do we bridge income inequality? We grow the economy. Creating jobs is the number one issue.
The National Debt
We're 17.5 trillion dollars in the hole. Our interest costs right now are about 221 billion dollars ythat we spent last year on the interest on our debt. So what happens if that interest goes up to anything like a reasonable interest rate, because right now we're servicing that debt at historically low interest rates. By 2024 you get up to a debt payment of 880 billion dollars per year on the path that we are on. You go from 221 billion to 880 billion.
Put it in perspective: Social security: 808 billion; All of Defense: 625 billion; Medicare: 495 billion. The point is if we go on this path where is 880 billion dollars going to come from? Are you going to shut down these programs? I don't think so. I'm not going to stand for wiping out social security. I'm not going to stand for destroying Medicare in order to make that debt payment. I'm not going to take all the dollars out of the defense budget, because we need that national security.
Then the question becomes, why is that related to jobs. You know why? Because the people that are making the decisions to grow their business, to hire new people are saying we have a crisis on the horizon and who are they going to look to to pay for it? The taxpayer. All of us.
Have We Adequately Punished the People Responsible For the Mortgage Crisis and Economic Downturn?
I get angry because when I saw the Justice Department under President Obama turn their back on Wall Street and say we're not going to prosecute those guys from 2008, we're just going to let them go. When I saw the CEO and those guys who signed those collateral dept documents attesting to the fact that they knew what was in there -- that's wrong.
There are laws on the books that should have been enforced and prosecuted fully to hold those people accountable because they weren't playing by the rules. You take that bad actor out of the equation. Now you solve it and prevent the next course that's coming down the path.
There are cynical people in this country looking to game the system. One of the things I'm concerned about is, they said, 'Wow. 2008, what did you do? None of us went to jail. None of us paid a penalty. And you know what? You bailed us out.' You don't think those same bad people are calculating, 'Hmm, we did it once, we'll do it again.'
Do you need more regulations or do you need strict enforcement of existing regulations. I put it to you that the better course is, rather than grow government you enforce the laws we have.