Skip to content Skip to left sidebar Skip to right sidebar Skip to footer

A look to the future

From healthcare to tax brackets and from Libya to Afghanistan, U.S. Rep. Phil Roe addressed junior and senior classes at Unicoi County High School last week about the issues that most affect their future.
The congressman informed students that the national healthcare plan would greatly affect their financial future, saying the plan is too costly, too lengthy and unconstitutional, adding that students will foot the bill as adults.
“It’s a 2,500 page document,” Roe explained. “I don’t recommend (reading it) unless you want to go to sleep. The problem is that (the healthcare plan) is that it mandated every citizen must buy health insurance. This has never been done in history. If the Federal government can force its citizens to buy a good or service you do not want, then they can force you to buy anything.”
Roe also tackled the issue of U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan and Libya. Roe, a retired OB/GYN, has visited Afghanistan and witnessed first-hand both the importance of that mission, as well as the sacrifices made.
“Afghanistan is the fourth-poorest country in the world,” he said. “The average life expectancy there is only 44 years of age.”
He added that many children in that country will die of diseases, like measles and mumps, that American children will never contract. Roe also noted that roads in Afghanistan are not paved and many people still live in tents rather than homes.
“It’s like driving back 2,000 years ago,” he said.
Roe also described meeting a 23-year-old Marine who had lost his limbs in the War on Terror. As a Vietnam veteran, Roe said he understands the sacrifice this young man made for his country.
“It’s a high price to pay,” he said. “My job is to make sure this Marine gets everything he needs. I don’t know how long America can sacrifice its treasures, its young people.”
He added that while he believes military action is necessary in Afghanistan, he worries that such involvement in Libya will spread military personnel “too thin.”
“This military now is second to none,” he said of U.S. soldiers. “These soldiers do an amazing job, and they are incredibly well-trained. But we are spread too thin, and we need to think about that when it comes to Libya.”
While Roe did not voice opposition to involvement in Libya, he said any military action should be well-planned and strategized with a clear end point.
“If you have a heart in your body, you don’t want to see women and children bombed and killed,” Roe said, “but how many places can America go? How thin can we be stretched? I’m going back to Afghanistan to get my boots on the soil, so if I vote to keep (soldiers) there, and they die, I want to make sure it was worth it. Why go to Libya? To take Gadaffi out? When do you exit? This is very personal to me. I don’t know all the answers, but I think you have to be very careful in involving the U.S. in any more countries.”
The congressman also addressed the issue of the national deficit.
“Even if we decided we didn’t want to have a military and everything in it, that’s $622 billion,” Roe said. “Even if there was no Department of Labor … no funding for education … we would still have a deficit of 42 cents on every dollar borrowed. We are putting the cost on your backs.”
Roe said officials are left with few options when it comes to tackling the growing national debt, saying officials can print more money, increase taxes and expand the economy to produce more jobs. He added that programs like Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid are also large-scale problems, saying changes to those programs will have to be made.
Roe also said that he believes the economy could be bolstered by reducing regulations, lowering taxes and lowering the corporate tax rate.
The congressman opened the floor for questions to a panel of students and faculty from UCHS. The panel included Gary Howard, history department chair; Allen Williams, senior class president; Brett Adkins, junior class president; and Austin Finch, student council president.