At Congressman Tom Reed’s Town Hall meeting in Ovid, March 11, I asked two questions, one related to global warming the other about world population growth. These related problems severely threaten the environment of our planet and deserve the highest priority for action by all national governments.

Here are the questions I asked, and the Congressman’s responses:

1) Given the effects of climate change — sea level rise, floods, droughts, violent weather, mudslides, forest fires, air pollution, species extinction, human migration, failed states, and so forth — do you agree that Congress should take significant steps immediately to decrease the use of fossil fuels? His answer was: “No.” He supports the development of all energy sources.

2) Given the passage of the Hyde Amendment, no abortions are now paid for by government funds, and given the fact that Planned Parenthood actually prevents abortions by providing access to birth control, do you support the defunding of Planned Parenthood as proposed by the Republican plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act? His answer was, “Yes.” He would rely on other organizations to provide information regarding contraception.

There was a third question I would like to have asked: “The interest on the national debt is the fastest growing part of federal government spending; as a fiscal conservative do you consider that acceptable?” I do not. The national debt now exceeds $105 TRILLION, which is a liability per taxpayer of over $880,112. Imagine having that much personal debt! Interest on that sum at just 3 percent annually would cost the average taxpayer $26,403 a year!

We simply must balance the federal budget to stop that sum from growing.

The current federal budget is already more that $5 trillion out of balance and President Trump plans to increase the budget gap even further by raising military spending by 10 percent and building a wall between Mexico and the United States, both unnecessary, discretionary expenditures.

Military spending by the U.S. already exceeds that of the next highest seven countries combined, and that number includes China and Russia. Building a border wall would be a colossal waste of money, inevitably ineffective, and a permanent testament to our country’s inhumanity. As the late President Ronald Reagan might say, “Mr. Trump, tear down this wall.” Work instead on an enlightened immigration policy.

To conclude, I believe the three highest budget priorities for Congress are to:

1) INVEST in a solar, wind, hydroelectric, and geothermal energy infrastructure at a pace equaling our country’s effort to put a man on the moon, thus creating hundreds of thousands of skilled and unskilled jobs. Congress also should promptly pass legislation prohibiting mining of coal and drilling for oil or natural gas on public lands.

2) INCREASE funding for Planned Parenthood to promote family planning in foreign countries by all non-abortive means, thereby decreasing the world’s birth rate, preserving the planet’s limited natural resources, and ensuring adequate food production for all populations. For these reasons I have even written Pope Francis about promoting non-abortive contraception.

3) BALANCE the federal budget for 2017-18, or at least significantly decrease the revenue-expenditure gap so that within the next four years the country can begin to decrease the national debt. If a Democratic president, Bill Clinton, could balance the federal budget, surely a conservative Republican businessman like Donald Trump should be able to do so.

If you agree with me that any or all of these should be among our country’s highest priorities, write to Congressman Tom Reed at 433 Exchange Street, Geneva, NY, 14456 or call him at (315) 759-5229 and tell him so. You might also write to President Donald Trump at The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C. 20500 or call him at (202) 456-1111.

Dr. David L. Dresser is the former supervisor of the Town of Ovid.

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