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Cravaack talks national debt in Wadena

Photo by Rachelle Klemme U.S. Congressman Chip Cravaack held a town hall meeting at M State-Wadena on Wednesday evening.

U.S. Congressman Chip Cravaack held a town hall meeting Wednesday evening in which he gave a presentation on the course of U.S. government debt, offered supply side economics as a solution and took questions from the audience.

The Republican representative of legislative Eighth District said that raising taxes would not be good during a recession, and the key to growing a tax base for revenue was to create jobs in the United States by de-regulation and reducing corporate taxes from 35 percent to 25 percent.

"The jobs that have gone overseas, they're not coming back unless we invite them back," he said.

He said that in numerous roundtables with small business owners, CEOs and bankers, they told him the issue with hiring American workers was about too many regulations. He said they did not bring up the cost of labor.

"We have to partner with businesses so businesses can expand and create jobs," he said.

Cravaack said the United States has the highest corporate taxes in the world.

About 30 people attended the town hall at M State from 7-8 p.m., which was announced on Cravaack's website two days before.

In 1970, only 5 percent of U.S. debt was owned by other countries, compared to 19 percent in 1990 and then 47 percent today.

"Quite frankly, it's a notion of sovereignty," he said.

He said that for every dollar the nation's government spends, 42 cents are borrowed. He also said that there was a 21 percent increase in spending in the last two years alone.

"This is completely unsustainable," he said of the national debt. "This is something we cannot give to the next generation."

Cravaack said that 2010 was the first year that Social Security couldn't pay for itself - it needed to draw from the general revenue - and he predicted that Medicare would be insolvent by 2020, as projected by numbers from the federal government.

Autopilot spending, or mandatory spending, is about 60 percent of the federal budget. About 40 percent is considered negotiable, comprising military spending and non-defense discretionary spending. A series of pie charts in Cravaack's presentation showed that autopilot spending was 42 percent of the budget in 1970, but projected to be 76 percent of the budget in 2040.

Cravaack said that higher gas prices were partly the fault of the devaluation of the dollar, as other nations require the United States to spend more.

Cravaack said that there was over 100 percent debt in World War II, but that was self-financed by war bonds and then paid off by the Greatest Generation in the years following the war.

Cravaack, who served in the military 24 years, quoted Admiral Mike Mullen saying the greatest threat to national security is debt.

He said that his mother, who grew up in an Italian-American ghetto, never completed high school and made sacrifices to make a good life for her children - but he cited David Walker, former comptroller general, who said that in the future children would read about American middle class lifestyles in history books.

The second half of the meeting had questions from the audience.

Maurice Olson of Brainerd asked Cravaack to reconsider his opposition to the light rail, saying that it would be good for seniors who have a harder time driving especially in the winter. He also said that it would be affordable if not for dropping bombs on Afghanistan.

Cravaack responded that the light rail would be financially unsustainable and said defense spending actually decreased in the last 30 years. He said that he talked to soldiers and supported the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, but voted against going into Libya.

Chad Dickey of Wadena said he agreed with deregulation for businesses, saying that the company he works for faces too many regulations, taxes and fees.

A reporter with Staples World asked about Saturday post office hours, and Cravaack responded that tough choices would have to be made.

A man from Park Rapids asked about waste from "Obamacare," and Cravaack said the Affordable Care Actwas a bad bill which would increase taxes.

Cecil Johnson of Oylen asked his opinion of the "9-9-9" plan, and Cravaack said he was trying to figure out what the U. S. government's own plan was and expressed disappointment that the "cut, cap and balance" plan was not supported by President Barack Obama.

A man from Park Rapids said it was time to end foreign aid to countries that don't like the United States, and said the U.N. was useless and said the United States should focus on taking care of itself.