Rep. Chaffetz speaks with Darrel Wood at the town hall meeting.
Congressman Jason Chaffetz visited Emery County for a town hall meeting. Chaffetz is not Emery County's representative to Congress, but he was in the area to meet people and answer questions about recent actions in Congress.
People were interested in whether or not Chaffetz was going to run for the Senate. He said that decision has not been made yet although he is considering it and he and his wife will make that decision in the near future.
Chaffetz said when he ran for Congress he refused to go into debt. His staff members were all volunteers. He said he did not have a lot of resources to back him up but he was successful in his bid for Congress. He has been critical of Republicans who he thinks blew it during the Bush administration and when they were in control in the House. "It's an honor to serve in Congress. It's a mess, but we are making headway. There are three major challenges facing our country and they aren't easy to solve," said Chaffetz.
The deficit is a major challenge. Dramatic changes are needed. Chaffetz said it's really hard to comprehend the amount of debt the United States has. If you spent a million dollars a day it would take 1,000 years to get to a trillion. "We are spending money we don't have. The debt has an effect on everyone and their quality of life. We are paying $600 million a day in interest. Twenty-five cents of every dollar is spent by the feds. That's 24-25 percent. It should be around 18 percent. In order to balance the budget we have to pay off the deficit," said Chaffetz.
The second biggest challenge is not having an energy plan. "We have not had an energy plan since Jimmy Carter. I remember gas lines. We have to solve this problem. The Department of Energy has failed. Our economy should not be based on what's going on in those middle eastern countries. We need to do solar responsibly. Our energy policy should not make winners and losers," said Chaffetz.
Chaffetz said the next threat is from terrorists. We need to find solutions and protect our liberties without losing our freedoms. "It's a challenge we need to be more secure, yet less invasive," he said.
Chaffetz said terrorism is very real. Chaffetz said the challenges America faces can be solved. That's one of the reasons he ran for Congress was to help find solutions to the tough problems facing America today. It's a challenge, but one that must be faced and solved.
Chaffetz said the Antiquity Act has been misused and should be repealed. Federal land that serves no purpose should be returned to the states. He showed a map of the United States and the West is filled with federal lands with very little private and state land. There are 75,000 federal buildings which aren't being used which should be sold. It's a small start, but small steps can be taken to reduce government spending.
Emery County Public Lands Director Ray Petersen told Chaffetz of the Emery County Land Use bill which has been prepared to send to Congress. The bill has moved to the state legislature to await their approval before it will move onto Congress. Petersen asked Chaffetz if he would support the bill. Chaffetz said he would be willing to move the bill after it receives state approval. Chaffetz believes a county by county process is the best way to make public lands policy decisions.
Audience members expressed concern over some roads in Carbon County which are being closed without going through the proper procedure. Chaffetz encouraged them to talk to Rep. Jim Matheson as he represents this part of the state.
Emery County Economic Development Director Mike McCandless said one issue that seems to hold projects up including the proposed nuclear power plant near Green River is the Fish and Wildlife Service. The surveys and expectations they have in place cause the cost of projects to go out of control.
Rep. Chaffetz said he agreed that radical environmentalists are blockading our country. The environmentalists have learned the court system so well and they drag fights out decades in the courts and hold up worthy projects. Chaffetz said the environmentalists held up the Legacy Highway project for years at a very high price.
McCandless said the environmentalists are very good at bringing in other agencies to complicate projects.
Another movement afoot is to redefine water. Any puddle would be federal water. Rules and over-regulation are making it difficult to do business in America which is why hundreds of businesses have moved overseas. There are too many regulations making doing business here unprofitable. Chaffetz agreed that too many manufacturing jobs have moved overseas. Businesses are also scared to expand due to regulations.
Chaffetz answered questions from the audience. One question dealt with the debt ceiling debates. Chaffetz said he believes progress is being made as the debt ceiling has been raised time after time without question and this year the issue was debated strenuously. Chaffetz said he is a lead sponsor of cut, cap and balance. Chaffetz said it amazed him how Pres. Obama said he was going to veto cut, cap and balance and he hadn't even seen the bill. Chaffetz said he has always had an issue with earmarks and now earmarks are becoming less prevalent. Sometimes it only takes one person saying it's wrong. "We won that battle," said Chaffetz.
One audience member said everyone has to balance their budgets, so why not the government too. Chaffetz said tax reform is in order, the United States needs a broader base, tax rates should be lowered. Taxes should be on consumption and not productivity.
It's been 831 days without a budget. The United States needs a balanced budget. Forty-two cents of every $1 the United States spends is borrowed. Chaffetz believes all obligations for social security should be met. The President wants to tax more, but Chaffetz said that won't help. The government needs to be more streamlined. Corporations are willing to pay taxes if they know what those taxes are going to be.
Chaffetz said legal immigration needs to be fixed before illegal immigration can be fixed. He said in some cases it takes 22 years to process the forms for someone legally trying to go through the system to become a citizen. Forty-four percent of the people who come here legally like it here and don't want to leave so they become fugitive illegals in our country.
"Just because you are born here, doesn't make you a United States Citizen and I believe English should be the official language of the United States. We have talked of challenges, but the United States is still the greatest nation in the world, but we are one generation away from losing it. We have to fight for it. I am proud to represent Utah. I find it so satisfying. I believe America is exceptional. I hope to be part of the solution. I need help and support and your ideas. I thank those who have served our country," said Chaffetz.