Duffy dishes over coffeeAbout 60 people turned out at the Yellowjacket Union at the University of Wisconsin-Superior for coffee and conversation with their congressman.
By: Shelley Nelson, Superior Telegram
About 60 people turned out at the Yellowjacket Union at the University of Wisconsin-Superior for coffee and conversation with their congressman.
And with recent news President Barack Obama would seek authorization from Congress before an attack on Syria after the Middle Eastern country government used chemical weapons against its citizens.
Several people questioned Duffy’s stance on the issue.
Duffy acknowledged that he would get a security briefing when he gets back to Washington D.C., but nothing he has seen so far would persuade him to vote in favor of an attack on a country where the government and rebels hate the U.S. without a plan.
“This is one of those issues where it’s nonpartisan,” Duffy said. “Democrats and Republicans are forming a coalition to support a yes vote, and Democrats and Republicans are forming a coalition to support a no vote. As I analyze it, I don’t see there’s any good reaction from our military intervention. So, I’m a hard lean at no, but I’ll listen to what the president has to say in the security briefing next Monday.”
Duffy addressed the issue before a single question was asked.
“I don’t see a lot of win on either side,” Duffy said of the proposal to attack after Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was accused of the chemical attack. “You have Assad and you have radical Islam. If we hit Assad, we’re helping out radical Islam. There’s no win there ... I just think with every action, especially in the Middle East, there is a reaction, and I think this reaction will not be positive.”
It’s expensive and comes with uncertain consequences, Duffy said.
“I don’t stand with John McCain or John Boehner on this issue,” Duffy said of the senator from Arizona and Speaker of the House of of Representatives, both Republicans.
Nancy Smith asked Duffy if he was aware of reports that suggest Assad may not be responsible for the chemical weapon attacks on the Syrian people after reading about evidence that suggests the rebels may have been responsible.
Duffy said he was aware of it but is still waiting to find out what he learns from the security briefing.
Duffy anticipates an “aggressive” debate on the issue next week.
“I hope however Congress votes (the president) abides by it,” Duffy said.
“I’m very opposed to our intervention,” said Douglas County Board Supervisor Dave Conley.
Conley reminded the congressman to think about the needs here in Wisconsin as he serves as the people’s representative in Washington D.C. In particular, he reminded Duffy of the need for services for military veterans, and Social Security.
“It’s important that we keep our promises,” Duffy said, whether that’s to veterans who served their country or people who worked their whole lives paying into a retirement safety net with the promise it would be there when they retire.
He said where Social Security and Medicare are concerned, that means reform to ensure the program is there for the next generation of retirees. He said by making those reforms now, it gives people the time they need to plan a secure future.
However, making those modifications for those nearing or in retirement isn’t fair either, Duffy said.
One man questioned when congress was going to address nutrition assistance programs — something critical for veterans, kids in schools or seniors.
Duffy said he doesn’t favor taking that safety net away from people who truly need it, but the debate needs to take place about how expansive the program has become. He said the cost of the program has doubled in the last 10 years.
“I want to help kids that can’t eat,” Duffy said. “I want to help people who have fallen on hard times. There’s people who are also accessing the program that are abusing the program. And I want to get those people off the program” who jeopardize it for those truly in need.
Duffy said he voted in favor of the Farm Bill because some reform was better than none.
Dick Gustafson commended Duffy for signing on to the Violence against Women Act, but turned his question to the state of the economy.
“Since 2008, corporate profits have gone up about 20.1 percent,” Gustafson said. “That’s a lot of money. We’re talking trillions of dollars for corporations. Wages have gone up 1.4 percent annually.” He asked when those trillions of dollars would trickle down to the rest of the people.
“I believe that if you’re a corporation that makes billions of dollars, you should actually pay your taxes,” Duffy said. He said corporations already have an unfair advantage over small business because they pay lower tax rates.
For Marti Allen, an artist with a great imagination, the question was when congress, and what Duffy would do, to bring about meaningful gun legislation. After all, she never would have imagined what happened in Newtown, Conn., when a gunman went into an elementary school and started “killing babies,” she said.
Duffy, a father of six, said he couldn’t fathom the tragedy either but “I’m going to continue to support law-abiding citizens owning guns.”
Since June, city officials have again been faced with the outrage of residents woken several times a night by train horns after the Federal Railroad Administration denied a quiet zone waiver extension to the city.
Since then, train horns have been blaring at all hours of the day and night at the rail yard at North 28th Street according to residents, adding to the cacophony heard in North End and South Superior and other areas of town where the only solution is millions of dollars the city doesn’t have.
And it’s an issue that local officials have little influence over because the FRA makes the rules.
That prompted Superior City Councilor Mike Herrick to take advantage of the chance to talk to his congressman.
Herrick said when Duffy initially answered his question about the train horns, he really didn’t get an answer, but he left satisfied nonetheless.
“After everyone left, his assistant Mary (Willette) came up and told me what his office is doing,” Herrick said. “... It sounds like they are working on it ... It may take a little time, unfortunately, they are working on it.”
Herrick said he and Public Works Director Jeff Goetzman also learned Ladysmith dealt with a similar problem and Goetzman will be contacting that community to see if there is anything that can help here.
Overall, Herrick said he thought the conversation, which addressed foreign, national and local issues, was “well rounded.”
“Sean has all the right answers, but a lot of the time his vote in Congress doesn’t reflect what his constituents want,” said Don Raihala of Superior, who turned out to hear what the congressman had to say.