U.S. Representative Charlie Bass and journalism students clashed at a press conference held on Monday, Sept. 26. Students and professors were able to get up close and personal with the representative, questioning his opinions and history with a variety of topics.
Students took their assignment of the press conference seriously, starting off questioning the representative on his recent listing on the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington’s list of the ten most corrupt politicians. Bass said that the accusations came from a liberal leaning group. “That is essentially a liberally funded advocacy group… I produced irrefutable evidence that I had no conflict of interest as a member of Congress in respect to my ownership in New England Wood Pellet.“ When questioned further about the actions that resulted in the accusation, he said “Partisan. Partisan. Partisan.”
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Education topics were brought up by several students curious about his thoughts on college affordability. “No one is more sensitive to that issue, “ he said, referring to his college-age children. “We will never close the gap between support and affordability. College costs are going up rapidly, faster than the rate of support for low-income students.” To combat increasing college costs, he mentioned the for-profit college model as something to reduce costs, praising the new education model. “There are whole new models for education, like the University of Phoenix. As an education model, they eliminated the costly infrastructure associated with higher education.”
Participants asked Bass his thoughts on legislation in the works in many states, trying to curb the ability of college-age students to vote where they attend college. N.H.’s state government attempted to pass similar legislation earlier this year, but it was struck down in the state legislature. “The federal government should not be involved in such an issue, it should be resolved at the state level…I don’t involve myself in debates that are occurring at the state level. ” He encouraged student voters to vote if they actually lived in the area, but not necessarily if they were living in dorms. “Every citizen that can prove age, domicile, and citizenship should have the right to vote. If you really live in Keene, and it’s your real home, where you pay utilities, then you should vote there.”
Bass was also asked about Congress’s approval rating. According to most recent polls, Congress’s approval rating is somewhere between 10 and 15 percent. Bass said that the public’s problems with Congress could be broken down into two parts. “Congress has, for a long time, been a place where you could go get goodies for your cities and that’s stopped. Members of Congress don’t return and say, ‘Look what I got.’” The more serious issue with Congress, Bass said, is, “Liberals are unhappy with one facet of government and conservatives are unhappy with another…There’s nobody that’s perfectly happy about what’s happening. You can always think of something that’s going on that you don’t like.”
Speaking about campaign financing and the remaining election campaign money being spent on promoting green energy production, Bass said, “If I had no interest in ever running for political office again maybe, but the purpose of a campaign war chest is to finance campaigns.” Bass continued to defend his position on his campaign financing, “I know that next year will be a tumultuous year in the political world, I don’t raise as much money as most of my colleagues and what I do raise I have to save.”
Bass also laid out his goals for the next year and potentially his other terms as a representative. He broke his goals down into two parts, major and minor goals for himself and the country. His bigger goals included fixing the economy, “The number one goal is to get the nation on the track to economic recovery. We can get into that debate at some other point.” His second goal was to control the growth of government, and he cited the size of the government as $1.6 trillion when he entered Congress in 1995, and now the deficit is more than the entirety of the government at that point.
Bass ended by talking about the connections between the federal government and citizens. Bass said that the federal government was so pervasive in our daily lives, that elected officials have become an important part of citizens’ lives.
“It has become critical that someone whose elected by the people act as a link between citizens and the federal government…At some point during the day you are going to have an interaction with the government.”
Chelsea Mellin can be contacted at email@example.com.