WHALLONSBURG - Politics was the topic of discussion at the Whallonsburg Grange Hall Oct. 9 as Congressman Bill Owens stopped in to meet with local residents.
The town-hall-style meeting, sponsored by the Essex County Democratic Committee, drew roughly 40 residents from Essex and neighboring towns to hear Owens address questions directly from his constituents.
"Bill believes meetings like these are beneficial for the attendees and himself for the same reason - he represents a big district, about 14,000 square miles, and there aren't a plethora of opportunities to visit with folks from every county weekly," said Sean Magers, spokesman for Owens. "Meetings like these provide the opportunity for Bill to stay informed about the issues that matter most to Essex County."
Questions to Owens touched on a wide-range of topics, the foremost of which dealt with economic policy and the need to address unemployment.
"The critical piece missing from the economy is demand," Owens explained, noting there is still more to be done to encourage growth of demand for American goods and services.
One thing Owens said he would like to see is the institution of an "infrastructure bank," a federal program backed by President Obama that would use billions in federal dollars to encourage private investment, both of which would be used to fund several infrastructure projects in the next 10 years or more.
Owens also pointed to a letter he co-signed and sent to leaders in the House of Representatives offering what he called a "compromise" in regards to the tax cuts that are set to expire at the end of this year.
Whereas Republicans have called for extending all the tax cuts and Obama has proposed extending only those cuts that would benefit individuals making less than $200,000 annually, the plan Owens offered is to support Obama's plan while additionally extending current tax rates for certain capital gains taxes and a one-year extension for individual and joint filers with $500,000 in yearly income.