McDermott draws a crowd at Edmonds Coffee

Monday, June 24, 2013

Jim McDermott listens to a question during Saturday’s coffee gathering.
Photo courtesy My Edmonds News

As reported by our News Partner My Edmonds News

“This is probably the most exciting Congress I’ve ever been in,” U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott said, drawing a laugh from the crowd packed into Red Petal Cakes in downtown Edmonds for a coffee hour with constitutents Saturday morning. Those gathered assumed he was talking in jest, given the increasingly divisive political tone in the other Washington, but the 12-term Congressman assured them he was serious.

“What’s exciting is, in less than 100 days, we are going to start the biggest social experiment in this country’s history,” said McDermott, citing the 30 million people who will be enrolled in the Affordable Care Act.

“I went back and read the history of the starting of Medicare, and there was so much talk about it being socialized medicine and it was going to be the end of medicine in this country and it was just going to be awful,” said McDermott, whose 7th District now represents Edmonds (and Shoreline and Lake Forest Park) following redistricting in 2012. In fact, it was difficult to sign people up for Medicare, he said, noting that during door-door enrollment efforts, “people would slam the door and say, ‘I’m not going to have any of that communism in my house.’ Well now, if you tried to take Medicare away from the old people you’d soon be doing something else besides being in Congress.”

While there is likely to be some resistance and “bumps in the road” when the new health care law is rolled out and people being receiving benefits next January, McDermott, a long-time supporter of universal health care, said he believes that Americans will benefit, especially given that health care emergencies are a leading cause of bankruptcy in the U.S.

McDermott answered many questions from the audience including:

-  Immigration and the continued use of H-1B Visas, which allow U.S. employers to temporarily employ foreign workers in specialty occupations. “We have now put the cost of education on our own students and they are deeply in debt. So what we’ve done as a cure-all for that is to skim the brains of the world … because we have not educated our own people to take these jobs,” he said. “Part of the problem here is getting us back to believing that we have to invest in our own people in our own country. I think there’s going to be a real debate over just how many people we’re going to take into this country.”

The Congressman did speak in favor pending legislation in Congressman aimed at reforming immigration laws, noting that “the power of this country is in part because the people who immigrate are those who have the guts to get up and leave someplace and say “I’m going to something better.”

- Concerns about President Barack Obama’s decision to provide arms to rebel forces in Syria. “I went to Iraq in 2002 and said the President (Bush) would lie to get us into war and got the name Baghdad Jim for my efforts,” he said. “The war drums for us going into Syria are very very strong right now.

“You’re looking at a place we have to be very careful about going into or moving in to,” McDermott continued, adding that the U.S. is not going to be effective by handing out rifles, he said. “If we’re going to make an impact we’re going to give them tanks and anti-personnel weapons that shoot down helicopters. I do not think that the United States is going to … make it any better by handing out weapons to a bunch of people that we don’t know.”

- Regarding recent revelations regarding the National Security Administration and Department of Defense practice of spying on Americans, McDermott said, “We have given away our personal private security.” He added that he supports a bill introduced by California Congressman Adam Schiff that would repeal the Authorization for Use of Military Force, which Congress passed after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

He related an experience several years ago, when a teen-age girl followed him after he left a town meeting, stating she wanted to tell him a story. The girl said that she and her family lived in Seattle and that one day at 3 pm., a man in a blue suit and red tie knocked on the door, asking why the family made so many calls to Iran. The father had been in the Iranian Air Force and came to the U.S. after that Shah of Iran was deposed, but the family members were all U.S. citizens, McDermott said. “Their phone was being monitored and this was in 2003.” Turns about that the family was calling Tehran because they had an aunt who was hospitalized, and they were calling about her well-being.

“I don’t believe anything they (U.S. security officials) say about what they are doing with the information or how they are sifting it,” he said. “They are not telling the truth. I’m convinced of that.”

After the 2001 terrorist attacks, “we were willing to give away all of our American rights in the name of security. Now you are no more secure with the copying of all your emails or all your phone calls … that doesn’t make us secure.”

- To a question regarding how to change the current attitude about government and the stalled political process in Washington, D.C., McDermott said that there is likely to be a hot-button issue — perhaps around the growing amount of debt facing college students — that will inspire people to make changes.

“The average kid coming out of the University of Washington Medical School is $175,000 in debt, so all they are thinking about is, how to make money and get rid of this debt I am dragging. And that has changed the whole of society in terms of what we care about,” McDermott said.


Anonymous,  June 25, 2013 at 7:27 AM  

I knew it then and I know it now...Jim was right about Bush lying us into war. All of those who ridiculed him need to man up and apologize.

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