Tom Marino and Lou Barletta forum at King's College

Republican congressmen Lou Bareletta [who recently voted to defund Planned Parenthood, shame on him] and Tom Marino from Pennsylvania visited King's College for an event called "Congress on Campus." I learned about this event on the same day it happened and simply had to attend! I have had various qualms with Barletta and have displayed concerns about him in previous blog posts here and here and in December of 2009, he made a comment about the nativity scene that I filed a complaint against and had taken down because it was unconstitutional:

I don’t believe we are singling out any one religion. There is the menorah. There is the Nativity scene for the Christians and for the non-believers there is also nothing there. I don’t think the city is singling out one faith. I think they are all represented on the lawn,” he said.

Obviously, I'm no Barletta fan and no fan of republicans in general.

I brought my notepad and pencil to the event hoping to write some memorable quotes and was quite successful. My original intention and main objective was to ask Lou Barletta to clarify his statement made concerning the nativity scene, but unfortunately, the question was not selected out of the pool of index cards.

The event brought out people of all ages and intentions including King's College students who showed up for extra credit, elderly members of the community, King's College staff, local media, and others. The event was televised and presumably will be or is online somewhere. I'll link the discussion soon to verify my claims and criticisms of both candidates (It may be here).

Lou and Tom told their "American Dream" stories going from "rags to riches" and Tom mentioned that he was here through the good grace of the Lord. Great. Whatever. It's what you'll expect from these congressmen. The problem I see, though, is that republicans can tell their stories, but little that they do benefits the middle class. Republicans generally love tax cuts and exemptions for the rich while the middle class suffers.

Lou and Tom constantly noted that we have a huge deficit and that "there is nowhere to get the money from," but they somehow overlook taxation of the rich and corporations... I caught the first major spin from Barletta when he spoke of all the spending of previous presidents and noted that Obama spent more in 18 months than they did in all of their terms (but somehow forgot about Bush Jr.) Also, what about the other months in the Obama presidency and the fact that he inherited a flawed system from other presidents and has to "undo" Bush.

Marino mentioned that there was NO discussion with republicans regarding the healthcare bill that he so lovingly called "Obamacare," but this isn't the case because democrats have modified provisions in the healthcare bill due to republicans' input. Unfortunately, the discussions were not as transparent as Obama claimed in his campaigning [live on C-SPAN open to everyone], but republicans' complaints obviously swayed the bill because Obama wanted republicans to hop on board with the bill. Obama also directly invited republicans to have a conversation.

If I recall correctly, Marino mentioned China about two or three times throughout the discussion and made them look like an enemy nation that wants to destroy us. He said that China's military is growing and this is a domestic concern. Wow. I don't follow this... Our relations with China seem to be quite positive after Obama met with the president of China. He also said that China steals our ideas and patents.

Marino discussed the price of gas and oil and stressed that we need to end our dependency on foreign oil because, he claimed, we get most of our oil from hostile foreign countries. I knew that Marino was wrong about this one because it's a common ploy from republicans that I have noticed quite often in the past. Most of our oil comes from Canada! Also, if we end our dependancy on forgeign oil from hostile countries (Canada is our friend, last I checked), we won't be rescued by some night in shining armor. The Washington Post does a great job with this myth.

Marino furthered his discussion on hostile foreign countries by invoking the crisis in Egypt. He approved of Obama's handling of the Egypt situation and mentioned that "Mumbarak should not be thrown under the bus." Then, in quite a turn, he made a Glenn-Beckessque link of nonsense with no chalk or board with some wild assertions.

The Muslim Brotherhood is a branch of Al-Queda. (false)
We can't even afford to let them in the door and let them have power.
They want to get into Parliament.
Once they get into Parliament, they take over Egypt.
Once they get in power, we have an "Iran situation."

This doesn't work at all. First, the Brotherhood has been banned from running as a group and just because some individuals get in (if they are voted for) does not mean that they will take over. The president and many other officials will certainly have a say...

Barletta has to answer various questions about his stance of illegal immigration as I expected. He told some anecdotal stories about how an illegal immigrant in his town murdered someone and how a 14-year-old illegal immigrant shot a gun at a playground. Because of this and Barletta's desire to keep illegal immigrants out [he says that crimes from illegals drains the budget, illegal workers harm the economy, and illegals hurt legals the most, etc.], he felt that "enough was enough" and he was soon in the national spotlight. Lou was careful to mention that it's not fair to group all illegals together and portray them as problems and that we should never confuse illegals with legals (I'm not sure what that means), but it's not very clear that Barletta follows his own advice. There may be much more (and there probably is) to Lou's fervor for making illegal immigration a key issue, but to be fair, the time he had to speak was very limited.

Marino discussed social security and claimed that the government owes 2.4 trillion dollars to this fund. This is very false unless, somehow, I'm grossly mistaken. Social Security has quite a surplus.

On the Tea Party, one of the best and worst quotes from the night was made by Marino, "The Tea Party is the quintessential example of democracy." This almost provokes barfing. The "leaders(?)" of the Tea Party greatly distort history, don't believe in the separation of church and state, think that the founding fathers were against a centralized federal government, and despite their claims of small government, want big government concerned with the uteruses of women.

Finally, the wildest claim of the night award goes to Tom Marino when he said that Iraq and Kuwait should pay reparations to the United States for us helping them. Wow. I'm still waiting to hear about the happy troves of people in streets coming out to embrace the soldiers and go on live TV to do so. Apparently, the media is quite busy with other matters? We did much more harm to the Middle East and our reputation by going in than we helped.

Tom Marino makes Lou Baretta look like a liberal.

I thank King's College and the various sponsors who hosted this event. It was quite the educational experience and I was happy to attend and learn something about my local representatives.

In addition to my reporting, local newspapers also cover the event: