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Senator hears economic worries
Financial bailout, water agreement among concerns at town hall meeting
By Ty Beaver, Herald and News 1/24/08

   Bethanne House and her husband played by the rules.
   The construction business coowner told U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., her family is at risk of losing their home as the economy struggles and homebuyers default on homes her company built.
   She wonders what the federal government is going to do for families like hers as bank executives spend government bailout cash on renovations and spa treatments.
   “Why couldn’t taxpayers be trusted with this bailout money instead of a few corrupt companies?” she asked the senator.
   The economy took center stage during Wyden’s annual town hall meeting at Oregon Institute of Technology Saturday. Community members commented on their dissatisfaction with the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement, how federal policies and legislation were negatively impacting them, and the need for better health care.
   County resident Dave Potter said he wanted heavier taxes levied against companies receiving bailout funds that pay large bonuses to their executives. Resident Doug Matheson asked Wyden if he foresees the country ever stopping deficit spending
U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., right, operates the drill being used to dig a geothermal well at Oregon Institute of Technology as Louis Capuano Jr., CEO of ThermaSource, and driller Jason Sanders look on. Wyden later listened to local concerns at a town hall meeting on campus.
that obligates future generations.
   Wyden said he was appalled by the news reports coming out about the use of the bailout funds. He said he voted against providing the money, and opposed a request from President Barack Obama for the remaining $350 billion authorized by Congress to be released to him.
   The senator wants banks to be specific about how they will use the remaining bailout money and wants the new head of the U.S. Department of the Treasury to ensure the funds are used as intended.
   “There’s a little bit of change under way in Washington, D.C.,” Wyden said.
   Water agreement
   Steve Repalyea of the Klamath Basin Alliance and Klamath Falls City Council Member Bill Adams said they had issues with the restoration agreement. Repalyea said he gave petitions with 1,800 signatures against the agreement to Wyden’s staff, while Adams said the public needs more opportunity to weigh in on it.
   Wyden said more opportunity for the public to have its say is needed. He said he plans to work with the stakeholders to address issues with the document, especially how it will be funded.
   “The price tag is a pretty hefty one,” he said.
   Other issues
   Others brought up the need to reform health care, especially Medicare. Resident Camille Howard said that while her business of producing therapeutic projects for autistic children is going well, she may have to close because of new lead-testing requirements mandated by Congress in the wake of Chinese toy recalls.
   One commenter asked Wyden whether the senator would be willing to aid prosecution of former President George W. Bush and his administration for their actions while in Congress.
   Wyden said he was working to declassify documents connected to Bush’s programs and policies so the full extent of his actions could be understood.

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