ST. MARYS — Members of two local chambers of commerce got the opportunity to pepper an Ohio Congressman with questions ranging from the current fiscal crisis in Washington, D.C., to immigration reform.
“The whole game is rigged right now to benefit the political class, the consultants, the corporations that have their headquarters in D.C.,” U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan said during a forum held for members of the St. Marys Area Chamber of Commerce and Southwestern Auglaize County Chamber of Commerce Thursday at Lost in the 50s Diner. “It is all rigged for Washington ... It is truly the Hunger Games. Washington is sucking all the wealth.”
Jordan noted the majority of the wealthiest counties in the nation center on Washington, D.C. That vacuum, he noted, is hurting the rest of the country.
“Average income is now 7 percent less than it was five years ago,” Jordan said. “The folks in Washington are doing fine but the rest of the country is having to deal with all the rest of the regulations.”
Jordan touched upon current talks in Washington regarding the looming debt ceiling and spending measures that will have to be tackled in the coming weeks. Jordan said he believed the debt ceiling should not be raised until the Senate passes a budget.
“We said let’s force the Senate to do something they haven’t done in four years,” Jordan said. “And that’s what we did.”
Chamber members also questioned Jordan on domestic energy and the future of the stalled Keystone Pipeline. Jordan said the state of Nebraska recently approved the alternate route of the pipeline.
“This makes sense,” Jordan said. “Now, with what we have been able to do technology wise, frankly here in Ohio and all over the country, going into the shale to get the gas and oil, we are the gold mine. America is now Saudi Arabia when it comes to the ability of getting energy out of the ground. Let’s hope the president sees the light as well and allows us to move forward on that.”
Current talks in Congress regarding immigration reform also surfaced during the forum. Recently, a group of eight Senators — four Democrats and four Republicans — unveiled their proposal for immigration reform. The proposal includes a path to citizenship for many of the undocumented immigrants, increases border security and cracks down on businesses that hire illegal workers.
“I think you are going to see some legislation that will improve the situation,” Jordan said.
Among the topics Jordan said he would like to see resolved is a path to citizenship regarding children of those who are illegally in the country. Often, he said, the children do not know they are in the country illegally until they apply for college.
“Some times we have had cases where the parents haven’t even told the kids,” Jordan said. “There’s got to be a way where we can help, particularly those young people ... The compassionate thing to do is let’s figure out a way to help those individuals get to a pathway to citizenship. But the others who knowingly broke the law, then there’s got to be some kind of penalty, I think. Maybe they don’t get to be citizens but there’s a way they can become permanent guest workers here. Those kinds of things we have to work through.”