Nov 23, 2011 Amanda Wada Uncategorized
Purple sheets were folded and dropped into a basket as residents filed into the Jordan-Elbridge Community Center in Jordan to hear Congresswoman Ann Marie Buerkle speak. Each sheet held a question for the congresswoman. At 6:15 p.m., Onondaga County Comptroller Robert Antonacci brought the basket to the front of the room, and explained that questions would be drawn at random from the basket for Buerkle to address.
Over the course of the evening, the basket revealed twelve questions that ranged from Pell funding to pizza.
Pat Cooper wondered why the Congresswoman would rather eliminate Pell grant loans to college and grad students than raise taxes slightly on the wealthiest millionaires in the United States.
“How much money have we put into the system of public education?” asked Buerkle. “Do we have a system that’s working? The United States should be producing the most well educated kids that can compete in the global market. Something is wrong. It isn’t that we’re opposed to public education, but let’s do something that works. Let’s try something different.”
A Syracuse resident, who identified himself only by first name, Richard, asked the congresswoman about healthy lunch diets, bringing up the recent National School Lunch program proposal from the Department of Agriculture.
“I want to know what your position is on that program they proposed,” he said.
“That was where pizza was going to be a vegetable,” Buerkle explained with a smile. She continued by raising the question of where decisions that affect education should originate from. “I think education should be a state and local issue,” she said, raising her voice over applause.
“But aren’t you in favor of improving the nutrition of school lunches?” Richard pressed.
“I think the Jordan-Elbridge school district should be planning the menus,” Buerkle said. “Why are we mandating what Jordan-Elbridge needs down in Washington?”
Rolling back Washington’s role was a theme throughout the night for Buerkle, who took every opportunity to remind attendees that she would fight against Federal tax increases on behalf of New York’s 25th district. She held this pledge even against criticism from many in the audience who asked her to consider removing her signature from Grover Norquist’s controversial Americans for Tax Reform Taxpayer Protection Pledge.
According to the Americans for Taxpayer Reform website, the Taxpayer Protection Pledge requires that “candidates and incumbents solemnly bind themselves to oppose any and all tax increases,” including taxes on the wealthiest Americans. This pledge confounds many Americans, including wealthy business people like Warren Buffet, who stands for tax rate increases on the wealthy.
Norquist and his taxpayer reform were recently featured on the CBS show “60 Minutes”, which was brought up by Elbridge resident Shirley Hill.
“Did you sign the no tax increase?” Hill asked. “After seeing 60 Minutes on Sunday night, I don’t think that’s a good idea.”
“I didn’t see that piece, and I intend to look at it,” Buerkle responded. “But that doesn’t change my pledge, not to Grover Norquist. My pledge isn’t to Grover Norquist, my pledge is to the people who live in this district. The one thing that you can expect from me is that I won’t vote to raise your taxes.”
“I know that many of us don’t agree on all topics,” Buerkle said in closing. “But as we sit in this room tonight we’re not Republicans, Democrats, Conservatives or Independents, we’re all Americans. We are proud citizens of the greatest country in the world, and we have a lot of problems that we need to address and resolve. I believe it’s the people who have the solution and the answer to these problems. If we get the government out of the way, and we empower people to do what they do best, then we can get this country back on course, we can find the answers, we can get out of this debt situation we’re in, we can become fiscally responsible.”