PLATTSBURGH - The North Country's number one priority is creating jobs.
That's the point emphasized by Rep. William L. Owens, D-Plattsburgh, during a town hall meeting at the State University of New York at Plattsburgh May 22, at which hundreds turned out to engage in a discussion of issues facing the 23rd Congressional District.
Owens, who was elected to the Congressional seat last November following former Rep. John M. McHugh's appointment as Secretary of the Army, gave the audience an overview of his last six months in office. In his address, Owens stated three main issues are at the forefront of the minds of people with whom he has spoken.
"I hear people talking about jobs. That was true during the campaign and that's consistently true today. They talk about the deficit, they talk about health care," said Owens. "Essentially in that order."
With the North Country's unemployment rate hovering at approximately 10 percent, Owens said he understands the need for more good-paying jobs topping people's chief concerns. The War on Debt Act, which Owens introduced into the House of Representatives in late April, would be a way to help combat that, he said, and potentially increase jobs in the U.S. The legislation, as proposed, would include the creation of "War on Debt Bonds" that would require 30 years to mature before being redeemed. Proceeds from the bonds would be used to reduce the amount of public debt in foreign countries, particularly China, said Owens.
Economists believe currency would appreciate in value up to 40 percent, said Owens, and up to a million jobs could be repatriated to the United States. That, when paired with putting caps on further increases in deficits and debt would help the country's situation as well, added the congressman.
"Those are the kinds of things we need to be focused on to get the economy back up and running," said Owens. "In addition to that, we have to become responsible in how we spend the money and figure out ways - and it's going to take some creative activity - to get that done."