21 Aug 2014
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LIVE BLOG: Rep. Harris Town Hall at Honeygo Run

The Republican congressman plans to meet constituents in Perry Hall on May 23.

LIVE BLOG: Rep. Harris Town Hall at Honeygo Run

Following the meeting, Patch interviewed Rep. Andy Harris about the upcoming election. Find out more in the article, Congressman Harris Says He's Saving Campaigning for Fall.

1:30 p.m.

Rep. Andy Harris encouraged attendees to contact him at his Bel Air office and to make phone calls and write letters.

1:36 p.m.

Harrris showed a slide of the national debt and federal spending. He explained the difference between discretionary spending, which mostly includes defense spending, and "auotpilot spending," which includes medicare, social security, medicaid and other spending.

The problem is with the "autopilot" spending, he said. Cutting defense is not enough.

"I think we need to decide that at some point we need to balance the budget," he said.

Debt will exceed 200 percent of GDP in 2084, he said, "which of course we'll never reach because they'll stop lending us money, like Greece."

He said Obama's budget presumed that the U.S. would never balance the budget.

He said Social Security will remain fairly constant into 2050.

Federal health care spending is what's expected to rise. The Ryan plan would restructure health care for the younger retirees. This would take tight cost controls, not for retirees now, but for future ones.

Harris said the health care reform law could be thrown out by the Supreme Court in the last week in June.

He said the U.S. borrows $2.50 for every $1 of growth. The only reason we're still growing is because the U.S. dollar is a reserve currency.

1:46 p.m.

"We don't think the stimulus package has worked. We don't think it actually grew jobs," he said.

8.3 percent of Americans are employed, but far fewer Americans are looking for work.

The majority of Americans don't believe their children will have the same benefits and opportunities.

Jan. 1, we're scheduled for a tax increase, he said, when tax cuts are scheduled to expire.

He said he recently read the book, "End Game," that talked about how there are no good solutions to economic problems worldwide anymore.

1:50 p.m.

A man asked about three bills Harris is hoping to pass related to illegal immigrants.

Businesses say, we need immigrants to do work. Harris said the federal government doesn't handle it properly by offering enough work visas. Harris said the biggest cost problem is spending on education for the children of illegal immigrants, and college in-state tuition for Marylanders.

He said immigration should be directed toward proper industries, engineering and science. He said we are outsourcing this to the far East, and training foreigners and not allowing them to stay in the United States—that's bad for business.

We have to agree that we need to secure our borders. I firmly believe we can if we want to. We need common sense legislation, temporary work visas. The business should have to certify that they tried to get Americans first, and if tey don't go home after they're done, they don't get to come back.

He said we have to allow more science and technology workers to have permanent statis.

I'm willing to debate this aytime.

A man from Churchville asked a questions about "e-verify" legislation and asked why Harris has not signed on to this.

Knowing how well the government has run immigration until now, business do not trust the government to do this.

Harris said 5 percent of the time, they are wrong ins determining whether or not a person is legal through the government database system.

Harris explained that there was too much inaccuracy. He said it is getting better and requires some minor changes. If the government isn't sure about the person's legality, the business must keep them employed.

Harris said the forgeries are very good in Mexico.

1:59 p.m.

A man said Maryland's in-state tuition for illegals is non-sensical, because they cannot get jobs after they graduate.

Harris said he doesn't think it's worthwhile at the university level and sends the wrong message.

He called Maryland a sanctuary state.

He criticized the income tax increase in Maryland and said couples making more than $150,000 are small business owners.

We can't penalize people who are working, taking a risk and making a profit. This is crazy to me. We should have been lowering taxes on these people. 

2:02 p.m.

Harris said the recent congressional redistricting has broken up neighborhoods. He accused them of gerrymandering in a smokefilled room with "all their buddies."

"It's like you threw paint on it ... the map doesn't make sense," he said.

Clearly, it was drawn to protect incumbants except Mr. Bartlet, he said.

2:05 p.m.

A man who works at UMBC said a lot of scholarship money comes from the federal government and 70 percent of the scholarships would go to students from Middle Eastern and Asian countries.

He asked if Harris would work to get more money to local students. He said more than half of the students are Chinese. He said even if they pay the full rate, it's still subsidized. To subsidize and then not give them the opportunity to stay here is a mistake.

If our goal is to win the economic fight, that's not the right strategy.

2:08 p.m.

A man asked about foreign contracts with technology businesses in Maryland.

Harris said we're not staying competitive. We have to decide how we're going to lead the world, and he said we need to lead the world in energy and everything else will fall behind it.

He said oil, natural gas and coal, the highest amounts are in the United States. He said if you add oil shale, that the reserve is so huge, it's greated than the entire world put together. That reserve is so huge, we exceed that.

We just had this hearing, you look at that graph and you ask, why are we importing? He said this would cut our deficit. He said the energy industry would bring steel industry back to the United States. He said plants are starting to save communities around the United States.

He said energy reform would cut the price of gas to $2 a gallon. He said we need to take advantage of natural gas and invest in the Keystone Pipeline.

A man interupted Harris, saying that Harris doesn't understand how to negotiate.

Harris said he doesn't care about special interest groups and he wants what's best for Americans and business. Harris said he's trying to get it on to each piece of "must-sign legislation."

A man said he's a local business man and he's concerned about the cost of health services for business people. The man said that the real problem is the cost of services.

Harris said there's no cost competition and people don't know the cost until they sell insurance or don't have insurance. He said, but women know the cost of designer handbags but not MRIs.

He said, as a doctor, he noticed that doctors had no incentive to keep costs down or have conversations about cheaper options.

Harris said he's a supporter of tort reform and reforming medical malpractice suits, but that's not a solution.

He said quality has gone down, and doctors rely on scans and tests they don't need and couldn't afford without insurance.

2:26 p.m.

All of us borrow for a house and a car, but none of us borrow intending our children to pay it back—that's what Washington does seven days a week.

A Perry Hall High teacher asked about aviation fees. He said he asked if Harris would look into lowering aviation fees raised under the Obama administration.

2:36 p.m.

A young man asked about the cost of health care. Harris said that people think preventive care should be free, bt nothing is free. He said that that's the reason why oil changes are not covered by car insurance, because minor preventative care is less costly when it is not covered by an insurance company. Harris said we have to have a safety net, but we need to design a system where there's an incentive for preventive care.

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Republican Rep. Andy Harris plans to hold a town hall meeting at on Wednesday, Harris' office announced in a press release on Friday.

The meeting is planned at 9033 Honeygo Blvd. in Perry Hall, from 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. on May 23.

Harris represents Maryland's 1st congressional district, which includes the entire Eastern Shore of Maryland, as well as parts of Anne Arundel, Baltimore and Harford counties. The former state senator was elected to the U.S. Congress in November 2010.

Harris is expected to face Democratic congressional candidate of Cockeysville during the upcoming November election.

Harris, known for regularly holding town meetings and meet-and-greets, has visited , the , the and the over the past year and a half.

What would you like to ask the congressman? Tell us in the comments.

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