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U.S. Representative fields questions on Patriot Act, Social Security and other issues

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

From an argument against the Pledge of Allegiance in schools to concerns about the ramifications of the U.S. Patriot Act, U.S. Rep. John Hostettler (Ind. -- 8) fielded approximately 15 questions from attendees at the Clay County Town Hall Meeting on Presidents Day.

Following the Congressman's speech, he opened the floor to questions and comments from the crowd of about 60 local residents at First Christian Church in Brazil. Staying 90 minutes longer than originally anticipated, Hostettler thanked the crowd profusely, encouraging prayers and comments.

"Your point of view is a very valid one, it's just not one that should be addressed on the federal level," Hostettler told a man concerned with both separation of church and state and the Pledge of Allegiance in schools. "That's an issue that belongs on a local level."

Meanwhile, a Clay City resident expressed his concern about American citizens being jailed without access to attorneys or being informed of the reasons behind their imprisonment as a result of the U.S. Patriot Act. "The Patriot Act scares me to death," he said. "Who decides who is a terrorist?"

Hostettler explained that prior to the act in question, "We were literally letting people go on the streets who were very bad people."

In addition to several Social Security-related questions, the Congressman also addressed questions regarding Medicare benefits and health insurance coverage, including efforts to make coverage less expensive and more accessible to small businesses and their employees.

Another resident ex-pressed his concern about the complexities of working while involved in the disability program. While several disabled persons are able to work part-time jobs, requirements hinder efforts made by those who fall between no hours and 40 hours.

"It's basically like a Berlin Wall. Once you get into the disability system, you can't get out," the resident said.

He also asked about the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and Hostettler noted reforms are taking place.

Other questions included those concerning military base closings, a bill protecting journalists from imprisonment for protecting their sources, elimination of building trades and other technical programs, the No Child Left Behind Act and when and how District 8 will benefit from federal funds.

Thanking attendees for coming to the meeting, Hostettler encouraged local residents' comments and prayers and added, "I don't need to remind you we are living in tense times."

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