In addition to sad stories some constituents who are suffering in a bad economy, some people are just angry at their government. One woman went on for a good ten minutes, criticizing pretty much everything and everybody, without bothering to ask a question. She repeatedly interrupted those who did. At times, things got pretty raucous. At one point, Dent had to ask the audience to settle down. For a few moments, I thought I was in a Council meeting.
I videotaped Dent's positions on a few issues, and thought I'd share them with you.
What's Wrong With Obamacare?
"There's no real cost control built into that law. Some will argue there is. I will respectfully say there is no real cost control." While acknowledging that providing more coverage for people in need is a "noble goal," Dent predicts the system will collapse. He points to Massachusetts, where the cost of care is going up and the ability of the taxpayer to meet that cost is limited. As a result, Massachusetts is "cutting back. They're delaying, denying. They don't have enough providers up there to care for everybody.
What Dent proposes is a "high risk pool" for those with pre-existing conditions, and suggests sudsidizing those without ability to pay. "The pool created in the law is inadequate," claims Dent.
"Half of the uninsured in this country are under the age of 35, many of whom are insurable, and they need to get into lower premium, higher deductible policies, married to a catastrophic coverage."
About Those Nukes ...
Although Dent supports tax credits for wind and solar energy, he said we have to be "realistic" about out short term energy needs. Coal supplies 60% of Pennsylvania's energy needs, and 50% nationally. Natrual gas and nuclear energy are the other two principle sources. Because of what has happened in Japan, nuclear may become "less of the mix." But he cautioned that using less nuclear means more natural gas and coal.
Q. Did you see the list of the highest risk plants in the U.S.? Nuclear plants. Three of them are in Pennsylvania because they were not designed for earthquakes and now they're finding there are fault lines.
Dent indicated there will be all sorts of reviews and studies in the aftermath of the Japanese tragedy.
We Don't Need No Steenkin' Frac Act
Blogger Noel Jones, concerned about safe drinking water, pressed Dent on adopting a National Frac Act. Dent flatly stated that this proposal, which went nowhere last year in a Democratic House, is proposed by a House member who actually is opposed to fracking.
Noel Jones: "We don't want to get cancer and then find out it's bad for us."
Dent: "I think you have to have some of these conversations with the state. I've had confidence in the state DEP to monitor the gas drilling operation and, also, clean water. They have that capacity. I think it's appropriate that they deal with this issue."
Passenger Rail Too Costly.
Referring to a LVEDC and County-sponsored study, Dent asked everyone not to "shoot the messenger," but pointed out that passengers would only be paying 22 cents for every dollar of operating costs. "That's a pretty big delta there." Northampton County Exec John Stoffa, sitting in the audience, confirmed that Dent had stated the facts accurately. Dent noted that the bus service into NJ and NYC is "pretty good."
Be a Maverick
LEPOCO's Sue Ravitz is certainly one of Dent's harshest critics. But she was downright nice to him on Friday.
"I think you're a sweet human being. I know you're a church-going person, even though you had me arrested in your office ... .
Dent: "I didn't have you arrested."
She insisted he did, "but I still respect you as a person who's basically a decent human being." And a Republican, damn it! "Here and there you veer away." She challenged Dent to be a "Maverick."