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Cravaack’s Duluth town hall attracts 200

WASHINGTON — Republican 8th District Congressman Chip Cravaack held his much-anticipated town hall meeting in Duluth on Wednesday.
The meeting was preceeded by calls from Democratic activists who were upset Cravaack hadn’t held a town hall in the sol

On the debt (which will be a chief topic once Congress reconvenes): “Cravaack used a litany of slides and federal budget data projecting that Social Security, Medicare and interest on the national debt paid to foreign nations will bankrupt the country over the next three decades if government spending isn’t curbed. ‘This is what we’re handing our kids,’ Cravaack said, adding that he viewed the problem as not too little taxes but too much spending, leaving a debt legacy for the nation’s future.

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‘It’s going to be tough, there’s no question about that. But we can do it together,’ Cravaack said, at which point a woman in the audience blurted, ‘The wealthy, too?’

‘Every body, ma’am,’ Cravaack responded.”

On Taxes: “Cravaack noted about 53 percent of Americans pay federal income taxes, while 47 percent do not. But others were more interested in why wealthier Americans shouldn’t be asked to pay more taxes, expressing support for President Obama’s plan to raise taxes on incomes over $250,000.

‘I am this future you keep talking about,’ said Fiona O’Halloran-Johnson, a UMD student. ‘This is your future asking why you aren’t raising taxes on people who can afford it.’ ”

On a source of jobs: ‘ “One of the big things I want to do is bring jobs here,” Cravaack said. “Polymet is something I’ve been supporting since day one.”

Polymet is a controversial copper and nickel mine proposed on the Iron Range. Opponents fear the operation will bring the same environmental problems associated with similar mines. Polymet will bring at least 350 high paying jobs, and thousands more ancillary jobs, Cravaack said.

“I am convinced that we can do this project in the most environmental friendly possible in the world,” he said.

Some in the crowd responded “Never been done. Never been done.” ’

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Cravaack has held a series of meetings in the 8th District this month, including town hall meetings in Grand Portage and Deer River. Opponents had criticized Cravaack for not holding an open forum in Duluth, the population center of the district.

On Tuesday, he told a group of protesters about the town hall. Some criticized the timing of the event (at 4 p.m. on a workday) and the limited warning they’d been given about it.

Cravaack’s camp has said the meeting was scheduled when a previous commitment, a Coast Guard exercise he would be observing, was cut short.

“Chip stood up in Deer River and said he would be to Duluth for a town hall as quickly as his schedule would permit,” spokesman Michael Bars said. “The Coast Guard exercise he participated in yesterday was shortened, allowing Chip a window to host a public meeting in Duluth. Business as usual for the Congressman — his constituent outreach is unprecedented.”