First District U.S. House Rep. Tim Walz sits down with area residents Tuesday at Riverland Community College to discuss the federal deficit. -- Brandi Hagen/Albert Lea Tribune

Archived Story

Walz calls for balanced approach to deficit

Published 2:51pm Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Congress must take a balanced approach to reducing the federal deficit, said 1st District U.S. House Rep. Tim Walz in Albert Lea on Tuesday.

Walz, DFL-Mankato, said this would include reducing the deficit through cuts, proposals to make sure the government operates more efficiently and tax reform that closes loopholes.

“Right now the not making decisions is causing great angst amongst investors,” Walz said. “It’s causing angst among the public.”

Walz’s remarks came during a town hall meeting at Riverland Community College set up to solicit feedback about the deficit from area residents.

First District U.S. House Rep. Tim Walz makes his way around a room at Riverland Community College Tuesday speaking with groups of residents about the federal deficit.

Divided into small groups, attendees got the chance to discuss which areas of the budget they would cut or add spending. The workshop was facilitated through The Concord Coalition, a nonpartisan, grassroots organization set up to advocate responsible fiscal policy.

Each group was given 10 ways they could change the budget. After talking out each option, the members in the group had to vote whether they would enact the change.

Some of the options included freezing discretionary spending at 2008 levels, reducing specified domestic spending, reducing specified defense spending, repealing the health care reform law passed in 2010 or reducing Social Security spending.

It proved to be a challenge for many groups to reach a consensus on all 10 areas.

Sara Imhof, the midwest regional director for the Concord Coalition, speaks to a crowd of about 40 at Riverland Community College Tuesday in Albert Lea.

“It’s very, very difficult,” said Bonnie Swenson, who works with veteran employment services through the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development. “It’s six of us sitting at a table, and we couldn’t agree. They have to have 218 in the House.”

Most groups opposed reducing Social Security spending, while they were split on other issues.

Walz said the differences in opinions during the room were similar to what takes place in Congress, but he noted that it is these differences that lead to good policy.

He said having input from both sides of the aisle are what leads to long-lasting change.

“These are not Republican or Democrat problems,” said Sara Imhof, Midwest regional director and policy analysts for The Concord Coalition.

Imhof said the solution to resolving the deficit will be a bipartisan approach.