Pearce holds town hall meeting in Los Lunas; talks about issues

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U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce (R- N.M.) held a town hall meeting in Los Lunas last weekend on a variety of issues affecting local residents.

U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce (R- N.M.) held a town hall meeting in Los Lunas last weekend on a variety of issues affecting local residents.

Deborah Fox-News-Bulletin photo: Local community members asked questions of U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce (R-N.M.) at a town hall meeting in Los Lunas last Saturday.

Valencia County community members and people from neighboring communities were able to voice their concerns and pose their questions to the congressman.

The questions most often asked revolved around immigration and border control, as well as flood insurance.

One man said no one has logically explained to him where high velocity flood waters are going to come from.

“They’ve spent millions of dollars up and down the Rio Grande Valley repairing dams and levees, waiting for this flood to happen, and it’s never going to happen,” he said. “We’re in the worst drought season of the century, and it’s not going to get better.”

The anger was contagious as people expressed their frustration with rising flood insurance premiums, and “subsidizing homeowners on the east coast.”

Pearce said it’s a case of large population centers having more clout than less populated areas of the country, and New Mexico flood insurance was a perfect example of that.

For decades, Pearce said, the flood insurance program was taking in about $1 billion in premiums every year and paying out about $1 billion in claims, but the recent increase in hurricanes that have flooded heavily populated areas have put flood insurance companies under water by about $3 billion.

“So, they then tried to come and say that people in New Mexico have to pay higher flood insurance premiums to pay for the people on the coasts, so we can rebuild those houses,” Pearce said. “They’ve rebuilt them dozens of times and it’s become a game.”

In Cloudcroft, Pearce said, they have a 500-year flood plain designation and people with homes at 6,500 to 7,000 feet are paying flood insurance, yet the people down on the river, 10 miles away, aren’t paying flood insurance.

“The agency is upside down, and people are furious that your government is that intrusive, that they tell you, you’ve got to pay for the people out there,” Pearce said. “I don’t think we should be paying for the people.

“They get the money from those big houses. They get the insurance when it washes them away, and we pay for the insurance inside this state.”

Pearce said intends to take the issue back to the Financial Services Committee that controls the flood insurance program, and fight it, he said.

The immigration issue was a hot topic, and people wanted to know what Congress is going to do about stemming the tide of illegal immigrants.

“We must secure the border before we do anything,” Pearce said.

“There is an 8 percent unemployment rate, and a limited number of jobs in the United States,” Pearce said. “And so we need to stem the tide of immigration or end up like India, with a population of more than a billion people, and only enough jobs for 300 million people, and the rest living in abject poverty.

“I’m not sure that’s the America we see in our future, but that’s the question,” he said.

The congressman said he didn’t know how sequestration will affect New Mexicans.

“In other words, the agencies have the right to make the cuts wherever they want to,” said Pearce.

On a graph he showed to the audience, the sequestration cuts seem to be very small.

“Two cents on every dollar tells us that it should not be dramatic, but if they decide to make all the cuts inside New Mexico, that could hurt us quite a bit,” he said. “So, I don’t know yet, but we’ll be there trying to represent our constituents so that we don’t get an unfair shake at the cut table.”

One of the charts showed U.S. spending at $3.6 trillion per year with only $2.4 trillion in revenue.

“The government is borrowing the $1.1 trillion difference from the Chinese, so the Chinese control our future,” Pearce said. “I’m sorry, but that’s not the country I want to be a part of.”

He stated the deficit is more than $16.4 trillion, because there is a $202 trillion fiscal gap with Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare.

A retired teacher from the Belen and Los Lunas school districts working in retirement was surprised that she had to pay taxes this year for the first time in her life, she said.

She asked the congressman if he agreed or disagreed that tax loopholes should be closed, and the wealthy 1 percent should help out and pay their fair share of taxes.

He said even if every penny the rich have over their annual earnings were taken, it would only take care of the country’s financial problems for one year.

“Then the next year, you don’t have any rich left,” he said pointing to the deficit and the overspending on the chart. “You cannot tax the rich enough to solve this problem and that problem.”


-- Email the author at dfox@news-bulletin.com.