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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.

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.

---

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.

Tim May 23, 2012 at 08:00 PM
Conveniently, nothing but retired people there at his 1:30 meeting time. I thought about skipping out of work for this, but then recognized the futility of the effort. I better serve my country staying here on the job. Thanks for transcribing. Then again you get paid to do it, so hey, everybody wins.
Other Tim May 23, 2012 at 08:24 PM
Maybe you should have gone. That way you could have given us some facts, not opinion. How do you know "nothing but retired people there"? The picture is fuzzy, but I can make out at least 4 people that don't look old enough to be retired. The picture also was taken from an angle that seems to show only a portion of the audience.
Paul Amirault May 23, 2012 at 08:39 PM
Did Congressman Harris really say this about preventative health care not being free, "that's the reason why oil changes are not covered by health insurance"? Are you kidding me? The government would avoid spending a small amount of money today to avoid paying a large sum of money later. It is called a prophylactic sir! Has something in common with a car's tires! You call youself a doctor? Although some may disagree with Obama's healthcare, free preventative care just logically saves us all a lot of money. I ask the gentlemen from Maryland, just why do people change the oil in their cars? Duh!
John Doe May 23, 2012 at 08:50 PM
Thank goodness he brought his national debt chart. Thanks Andy! This is the best..."We don't think the stimulus package has worked. We don't think it actually grew jobs." - Well did it or didn't it, Andy? What kind of research gave you that answer?
Paul Amirault May 23, 2012 at 08:58 PM
He wet his finger and put it up in the wind.
Emily Kimball (Editor) May 23, 2012 at 09:25 PM
Hi Paul, as it's a live blog, I do make typos. I just went in and edited that line. It now reads: "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."
Emily Kimball (Editor) May 23, 2012 at 09:29 PM
This is my article based on my interview with him after the meeting: Congressman Harris Says He's Saving Campaigning for Fall - http://patch.com/A-t4Cx
Paul Amirault May 23, 2012 at 09:31 PM
Hi Emily, that improves the quote. Accordingly, I will adjust my comment to reflect that the government pays for the large bill without collecting any premiums when it could have paid for preventative care at a very small cost. Goes back to the penny wise pound foolish .......
Paul Amirault May 23, 2012 at 09:33 PM
In addition, if your engine blows up for lack of oil changes it is not the insurance companies problem, much unlike the government and health care.
Other Tim May 23, 2012 at 09:50 PM
Yes, people do change the oil in their cars to prolong the life of the car and save money in the long run.. They just don't expect the government to pay for it.
Paul Amirault May 23, 2012 at 10:03 PM
Big difference Other Tim, when I don't change my oil and my engine blows up, it is my problem. When I don't have preventative health care and my heart blows up and I don't have health insurance, that is now everyone else's problem. Cheaper for us to pay for the preventative care then for the heart by-pass? We won't pay for your car problem, but we will pay for your heart by-pass?
Tim May 24, 2012 at 12:32 AM
I've been to enough of these events - even in the evenings - to know the general population of these things. If you take out the actual Patch writers, the ratio of over 60 to under 60 is easily 3 to 1. Additionally, even if I were to actually give Harris a good counter argument based on a factual study, he'd either just brush it off or use his own skewed research. This is a dog and pony show. We don't need a town meeting to look up what little Harris and the rest of the freshmen Republicans have done in office the past two years.
Other Tim May 24, 2012 at 04:15 PM
What Congressman Harris said was "minor preventative care is less costly when it is not covered by an insurance company." Where does it stop? We cannot expect the government to pay all costs associated with health care. Sometimes we must go into our own pockets. I happen to have a great health care plan, but I must pay the first $2,500 and then pay co-pays for any doctor care or prescription.
Tim May 24, 2012 at 06:29 PM
My main issues with the current insurance systems are two: 1) There are no real, effective controls on pricing of services. Of course, this is not solely an insurance company issue. In my view, this is what our Government should be focusing on more (rather then running it all itself). 2) Due to the fact insurance companies are ultimately profit driven, there comes with that inherent biases against people who already have on-going or incurable ailments. It's pretty risky leaving the health needs of its people in the hands of private industry who has exactly zero compassion for you. There are people out there who have ailments through literally no fault of their own. Insurance companies don't care. I conceptually agree that EVERYONE should have health insurance. I just want to see a way for it to be reasonably implemented without our government doing it all itself.
Amy Leahy May 28, 2012 at 02:27 PM
The chart was prepared by the Congressional Budget Office.
John Doe May 30, 2012 at 01:37 PM
Baseball, hot dogs, apple pie, and Andy's chart.
John Doe June 05, 2012 at 05:39 PM
Another Andy classic - "gerrymandering in a smokefilled room with "all their buddies" - Is he stuck in 1950? This guy has a cliche for everything, but no answers. Andy's fall resume prior to election: Years 2, Accomplishents 0.
Ron Pagano August 22, 2012 at 05:56 PM
Sadly...the last 2 years has been a no-win situation for the people in the 1st District! Andy may be a "nice guy" (although I've heard him get nasty at these so-called "Town Hall" meetings he schedules during work hours) but he has done nothing to help grow jobs on the Eastern Shore! In fact, he has chased jobs away (USPS, prime contractors) and supported out-of-state big oil, at the risk of making our air unbreathable and our water undrinkable...THAT is his legacy to our children and grandchildren! He has also voted against relief for our farmers and supports the Ryan Budget, which destroys Medicare and Social Security. His ideology is consistent with the Tea Party: I have mine...screw you! We need to send Andy back to the operating room, where he was good at putting people to sleep!!!

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