U.S. Rep Frank Lucas was back in Oklahoma last week, conducting 32 town meetings in an effort to bring his constituents up to speed on the U.S. Congress, one of those stops was in Boise City. Lucas told the small gathering, (five people, three under 25), that this was his 14th year in office. He began by explaining that after the recess he expected a short session of perhaps two to three weeks, in an effort by Speaker Pelosi to avoid a vote on such things as off shore drilling. “The speaker won’t support the status quo,” Lucas said. He then said that at present, an up-down vote on offshore drilling would pass. “It’s the speaker’s goal not to have us there. If we were there for two months, we’d pass the energy bill.”
(Note, as of Aug. 12, the speaker has publicly indicated she might entertain a vote, with some policy changes).
Lucas continued that to ease energy problems several things needed to happen:
The tax breaks on wind farms needs to become permanent.
Nuclear and Coal plants need to be planned and built.
“We need the whole [energy] package,” Lucas said.
Lucas then talked about the new farm bill. He explained that he voted for the bill out of committee, but against it when it came to the floor. The latter decision was due to the taxes tacked on after the committee vote. He then voted for the bill when it came back from the senate with the taxes gone. However, he still has problems with the bill since it is 75 percent about food programs and 25 percent in support of agriculture. He expressed concerns that the bill is more about devouring food than producing it. “I truly believe the majority was misguided…they have shifted the focus to consumption.” “It was written for the corn and soy bean producers of Iowa and Illinois,” he added.
He then moved to the housing bill. “There are good things in the housing bill. There’ll be oversight on Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, reining them in. That’s a good thing. It will modernize FHA, that’s a good thing.” But Lucas had some fiscal concerns. “But…it potentially opens the treasury to liability.” “We don’t have a foreclosure problem in our area,” he began. “In high foreclosure areas, local governments can tap into money, buy property. I have concerns about D.C., Miami, and L.A. owning property. So I voted against it.
The congressman then moved to the wars, by praising the troop surge in Iraq. “I will tell you it’s been a success; we are beginning to shift troops to Afghanistan. We may have turned a corner.” On the upcoming elections, Lucas said, “I think it’s Obama’s to lose, but it may be a cliffhanger.” Lucas then said that dropping gasoline prices was much in part due to customer choices. “It is due to consumption patterns,” he said.
The discussion returned to energy and the economy. “I want a growing economy,” Lucas said. To grow the economy he pointed out that energy problems must be addressed. “I am a proponent of energy, and farmer’s respond to economics,” he said. “The USDA made the right choice to allow haying and grazing on CRP land,” he said. He said that with energy choices, the nation needed to be flexible. “We’ve got to live in the real world,” he said.
The Japanese are about 50 percent nuclear, and that most European nations have a variety of energy production with natural gas, coal, nuclear and wind.