By Rick Langenberg:
Teller officials a no-show at forum
Eliminate the Internal Revenue Service and Obama Care, curb special interest ties and slice funding for the Department of Education, Environmental Protection Agency, Planned Parenthood and the United Nations. And when it comes to illegal immigrants, board them on a plane and fly them out of the country. And for the mainstream media, how about organizing a tar and feathering party. However, more attention needs to occur immediately for wounded soldiers from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, with the current care of veterans reaching a catastrophic level.
These were some of the themes of a town hall gathering, hosted last Saturday in Woodland Park by veteran Congressman Doug Lamborn, who represents the 5th District, including Teller, El Paso and Park counties. Strong anti-government sentiments prevailed, with many of the programs of the Obama administration taking a serious beating.
Not surprisingly, Lamborn, known for his staunch, conservative Republican views, received the thumbs-up by a boisterous crowd of about 40 residents who attended the forum. Notably absent, though, were elected officials from Teller County, Woodland Park and Cripple Creek, with only one WP councilman attending.
Throughout the forum, Lamborn and the meeting participants attacked the IRS, the continual budget deficits, gun control efforts, immigration reform plans and a variety of government agencies. Oddly enough, the crowd didn’t appear that concerned about funding efforts for the Waldo Canyon burn scar. “Everyone is going to have to step forward,” said Lamborn, who opposed having the federal government act as the sole savior for responding to these types of natural disasters.
At times, Lamborn found himself playing the role as a cautionary statesman, vowing to “go to the mat” for his constituents on key divisive issues, but acknowledging that they face probable hurdles in the U.S. Senate and must muster nearly 220 votes in the House of Representatives to move legislation forward, or get rid of controversial programs like the Obama Care health reform act. Still, many in the crowd weren’t accepting no for an answer and wanted sacred Obama and Democratic programs killed immediately. In fact, Lamborn even received a few playful boos, when in reply to a question by resident Jim Mikkelsen of Florissant, regarding Obama’s perception as a big dictator, the congressman pled the Fifth. “He (President Barack Obama) thinks he is doing the best job he can for the country,” said Lamborn, and then displayed a slight smile.
“You are being a weasel Doug”, joked one forum participant. But for the most part, Lamborn and the forum attendees agreed on most issues, but differed slightly on the probable solutions.
The congressman didn’t hesitate at lashing out at the IRS controversy, with a furor developing over the agency’s scrutiny of many conservative groups. “I think what they are doing is criminal,” said Lamborn. He contends that the actions of Tea Party organizations and other conservative groups to obtain 510 C-4 status (allowing special tax status and privileges for raising political funds) was “nothing out of the ordinary.” And instead, he maintains they were overly scrutinized and threatened. “We are going to get to the bottom of this,” promised Lamborn.
Lamborn admitted that changes are needed with the IRS and said he supports efforts to develop a flat tax rate. “We have 74,000 pages of regulations. That is unacceptable… The IRS likes to be powerful.” The congressman also was heavily critical of the administration’s stand regarding what he refers to as the “Benghazi cover-up.” He even referred to some of the people who testified as “weasels,” indicating that Attorney General Eric Holder and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were disguising the facts surrounding the terrorism attack that killed four Americans last September. And similar to his past forums, Lamborn heavily criticized the spending practices of the federal government. He referred to the sequestering attempts (mandated budget cuts if a certain agreement wasn’t reached between the administration and Congress) as a “clumsy attempt to cut spending.” He referred to actions to eliminate White House tours, for example, as nothing but public stunts by the administration to generate complaints against members of Congress. “They don’t like their little (spending) empire being destroyed,” said the congressman. And with the sequestering-related reductions, Lamborn stated that the defense department is becoming a big loser in a time when the nation has to deal with evil regimes in Iran and Korea. “That invites aggression,” predicted Lamborn.
He accused the administration and Democratic majority in the Senate of not dealing with reality, when it comes to trimming the budget. “It is my biggest disappointment of all,” said Lamborn.
A volley of concerns
The congressman didn’t receive a shortage of questions. Woodland Park Councilman Bob Carlsen, the sole local elected official who attended the forum, grilled Lamborn about special interests dominating nation politics. “Our vote doesn’t count anymore,” said “Carlsen.
Several participants echoed their distaste for the IRS, saying it’s time to eliminate the agency entirely. They didn’t get any arguments from Lamborn, but he asked for more time to investigate the recent abuses.
One of the more unique comments came from a woman who got quite emotional over the new immigration reform efforts that have received growing support among congressional Republicans. “It would be cheaper to put them on a plan and deport them,” said the resident. “It is an amnesty bill, Doug,” blasted another resident, in reference to proposed legislation that would open the door for illegal immigrants who have resided in the United States for an extended period to become citizens.
Lamborn received strong applause when he announced that new gun control legislation, proposed by Congresswoman and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi will be “dead on arrival. We will not have gun control in the House.” Unlike Colorado, federal gun control efforts haven’t fared that well. And if Lamborn has his druthers, that track record will continue. Lamborn also surprisingly remained lukewarm towards offering more federal support for the Ute Pass and the Waldo Canyon burn scan.
He stated that federal assistance funds are now in place, but didn’t make any commitment about providing more money and assistance, but vowed to monitor the situation. The congressman stated that the Waldo Canyon anti-flooding effort needs support from a variety of entities and even local nonprofits and charities, and not just the federal government. He stated that he initially voted against the Hurricane Sandy appropriations, which tried to unsuccessfully attach an amendment that would have assisted the Waldo Canyon area. But eventually, a subsequent Watershed Protection Act got approved that assisted Waldo Canyon and northern Colorado.
Other issues of concern dealt with helping wounded soldiers and curbing problems at the Veterans Administration. Also, some concerns emerged about the lack of attendance at the meeting, and whether more citizens are losing trust in their government.
The national mainstream media also took a beating, with Joe Burke, a Teller County Republican Assembly delegate quipping, “Tar and feather them.”
Like most Lamborn forums, the gathering didn’t feature a shortage of colorful comments.