Gutknecht reassures local seniors, investors

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 30, 2002

Rep. Gil Gutknecht visited Albert Lea Thursday, visiting St. John’s Lutheran home to discuss rising prescription drug costs and the Minnesota Utilities Investors to discuss energy issues and corporate accountability.

The congressman focused on the &uot;need to open markets&uot; for prescription drug sales.

&uot;We need to make prescription drugs more affordable,&uot; he said, addressing a group of senior citizens at St. John’s Lutheran home. &uot;Americans are paying an awful lot more than Europeans for drugs. All we really need to do to fix this is open up the markets.&uot;

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Gutknecht said that he is pursuing legislation to do just that. In response to worries about the dangers of importing drugs, the congressman said, &uot;More people have gotten sick off of imported strawberries than they have on imported drugs.&uot; He said that the safety of a &uot;Fed-Exed&uot; package is just as safe as the way the drugs are imported by drug companies presently.

Gutknecht also discussed Social Security. &uot;You have nothing to worry about in terms of Social-Security benefits,&uot; he said to his audience. &uot;But for the future generations I think it is important to give people the opportunity to create personalized Social Security accounts.&uot;

The congressman said the current return for the younger generations is less than 1 percent for Social Security. He said if they have &uot;personalized,&uot; or private, accounts for Social Security, people will have much better returns, and in turn &uot;a better retirement.&uot;

Gutknecht also spoke to the Minnesota Utilities Investors at a conference at the Budget Host Inn in Albert Lea. He said it was important for America to look for energy within the country. Drilling for oil in Alaska, and researching biodiesel, biomass fuel and wind power were all energy sources he pointed to for decreasing dependence on oil from the Middle East.

Gutknecht also told the investors that holding corporate leaders responsible for their actions is important to him. &uot;What America needs more than anything right now is to see these lawbreakers being taken away in handcuffs and orange jumpsuits facing the consequences of their actions,&uot; he said. &uot;There is something wrong with the ethics here and that needs to be addressed.&uot;

Finally, Gutknecht assured the investors of the strength of U.S. markets.

&uot;America is not going out of business,&uot; he said. &uot;The United States is still the number-one place in the world to invest in.&uot;