Attendees at Altmire's town hall meeting vent anger over policies
U.S. Rep. Jason Altmire's town hall meeting in Springdale attracted members of the Tea Party movement, and much of the discussion drew ire from those in attendance.
Topics in the open forum ranged from federal spending to health care to illegal immigration.
On those issues, among others, the McCandless Democrat said he's voted against party leadership, and with his constituents.
Noting the recession, Altmire said the Wall Street bailout and health-care reform haven't helped, adding that he voted against those bills.
A balanced budget bill could help, he said, and government needs to tighten its belt.
"We have an economy that is treading water at best," Altmire said.
Sheila Paul, of Ross Township, held her 8-week-old grandson and told Altmire that the infant is already $40,000 in debt.
Paul said her daughter is serving in active duty in the military, and asked what she's defending, if it's a nation that continues to recklessly spend.
Her remarks drew a standing ovation from the audience of about 70 people.
She questioned Altmire's vote on the stimulus bill. Altmire said that one-third of the stimulus was tax cuts that affected 95 percent of Americans and that the bill funded infrastructure such as the VA Butler Healthcare hospital.
Paul further pressed, asking for Altmire's annual salary, to which he responded $174,000.
When questioned on repealing the health-care bill, audience members applauded.
While Altmire said the bill should not have been passed, but he also said there will not be the votes to overturn the bill. He said he understands constituents' anger.
"Repeal is not a viable option," Altmire said, drawing murmurs and shouts of "repeal it" from the audience.
"I don't support doing something that has absolutely no chance at success," he said.
Altmire said he doubts audience members will disagree with him over immigration, saying the country must secure the border, penalize employers who hire illegal immigrants and make sure illegal residents don't receive any social services benefits.
"I think if you catch them," Altmire said, "you need to send them back."
Arizona has every right to ensure the safety of its citizens, Altmire said.
"I support Arizona," he said. "... they have every right to do that."
Bruce Kennedy asked the congressman what he will do to reverse what he calls "socialistic" policies. Kennedy, of Valencia, is a member of the Tea Party movement and the 9-12 Project, a movement started by conservative pundit Glenn Beck.
Frank William Moore, a 9-12 Project and Tea Party member from Mars, Butler County, said Congress doesn't understand the level of anger among constituents.
Moore called the Obama administration "communist."
Many of the people in the room were familiar faces, Altmire said, and he knows a lot of people came to speak out.
"I do everything I can to hear from as many people as I can," he said.Additional Information: