McNerney Takes Heat at Town Hall Meeting

Congressman Jerry McNerney speaks to East County residents at his town hall meeting in August.

By Allen Payton, Publisher

NOTE: This article appeared in the print edition of the Antioch Herald in September but was not posted to our website, until now. We apologize for the oversight.

East County residents let their concerns be known to Congressman Jerry McNerney (D – Livermore) at a little publicized town hall meeting in Brentwood, recently.

McNerney, who will soon be moving into and running to represent the new 9th congressional district, in which most of Antioch is now located, was grilled by those in attendance on issues including taxes, the national budget deficit, the Debt Ceiling and No Child Left Behind education policy.

He held his “Congress on Your Corner” in the Brentwood Chamber of Commerce board room which can only accommodate about 20 people at a time, so he had to have two sessions, to include those waiting in the reception area during the first session.

“Radical elements of the Republican Party have taken over the House,” McNerney said. Then stated “I’m not trying to be overly partisan.”

He advocated for another stimulus as a way to create more jobs.

“I think a stimulus would be a good idea, but it’s not going to happen in this Congress,” he stated. “Wall Street is important, but it’s more important to see jobs in Brentwood.”

When challenged by a resident, who identified himself as a Democrat, about his vote against the Debt Ceiling increase, McNerney responded “Making those cuts are going to throw a lot of people out on the street.” He then stated “It needs to include revenue and cuts.”

The resident shot back, speaking of President Obama’s first two years in office, “The House and Senate and Obama were all controlled by the Democrats and you didn’t raise taxes on the rich, then.”

“The economy was fragile so I didn’t think we should raise taxes,” McNerney responded, to which someone asked “and it’s not fragile, now?” He then said “They’ve slashed spending so people are out of work.”

The reality is the spending cuts approved in the recent Debt Ceiling agreement haven’t yet gone into effect and most of them won’t until 2017.

One resident made commented “Our infrastructure is falling apart. That’s one way to put people back to work, like the WPA (Works Progress Administration) of the 1930’s”

The Congressman responded “I supported the Stimulus. It put $200 billion into infrastructure. It also gave a $250 billion in tax refund – people didn’t notice it.”

“The House is proposing $200 billion for the next five years. That’s way underfunded,” he added. “I’m going to advocate for more.”

When asked about spending cuts he responded, “One of the waste in government is how campaigns are funded. That’s the first place we should start. It encourages members of Congress to spend money we don’t need.”

He was then asked about protecting MediCal by a resident who was identified as a John Muir Medical Center employee.

“MediCal isn’t being accepted by doctors. Will the federal government bridge the gap?”

McNerney responded “That’s a tough question. Medicare will be okay and we’ll be able to lower the cost. I really believe that.”

“I don’t have an easy answer,” he added.

When asked how he would cut $4 trillion from the budget as the ratings agencies are requiring, he offered incentives for small business, reducing inefficienes in healthcare and government, and said he voted for across the board cuts in the Departments of Health and Human Services and Transportation.

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