Congressman gives candid commentary on health care, war in Afghanistan

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Rep. Eric Massa, D-N.Y., discussed his opposition to sending new troops to Afghanistan, his vote against Obama’s health care reform plan, and his commitment to honesty in an event hosted by the College Democrats Wednesday night.

Massa broke frequently with his own party during his blunt speech to the CDs in the Marvin Center but the group of about 30 students was receptive.

“I say what I mean and I mean what I say because I think people are sick and tired of hearing what people think they want to hear,” Massa said.

Massa, who served in the U.S. Navy for 24 years, said he ran for office in response to government official’s hypocrisy and failure to uphold constitutional values when legislating.

“It is supposed to be a government for and by the people, yet the people that stand up and say that fail to look in the mirror,” he said. He said of the Patriot Act, “we passed a law in this country, while everyone was asleep, that fundamentally goes against the constitution.”

Massa spoke at length about health care reform and argued Obama’s plan would have catastrophic results. He was one of 29 Democrats in the House to vote against the health care reform plan.

“While I believe we have a national crisis that must be solved, I’m not willing to cause permanent damage,” he said.

Massa argued that the bill places unfair economic burden on employers and does not offer enough public insurance options.

“In this bill, we’ve taken the two problems with current health insurance and put them in granite,” he said.

Massa said Congress is currently prioritizing health care but that it must also focus on foreign policy and the economy.

“We have to think about other things; a cascading economy and our many foreign policy issues,” he said. “We are now facing many problems simultaneously. The Congress is having a really hard time.”

Massa also disagreed with Obama’s proposal to send additional troops to Afghanistan, saying American troops should be withdrawn from the country.

“I think we are not only on the brink of a catastrophic mistake like the one we made in Iraq but we are doing it with our eyes wide open,” he said, “.military persons are not going to establish a country where, frankly, there’s never been one.”

Massa said government officials have not considered what Afghanis want.

“Not everyone sees the world through the eyes of the Americans,” he said.

Aaron Gallant, an undergraduate who worked answering calls from Massa’s constituents, said most people from the district seem to be pleased with what Massa’s done so far and accepting of his even his bluntest rhetoric.

While Massa admits his approach has made him one of the most controversial members of the House, he vows to stay true to his beliefs and his constituents.

“How many of you think politicians are full of BS?” Massa asked the group of intimidated undergraduates. “Win, lose, or draw, you’re always going to know where I’m coming from.”

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