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Congressman speaks to Rotarians; Gives Washington update at meeting

By Staff | Oct 16, 2008

U.S. Rep. Connie Mack, R-Fort Myers, took the microphone as guest speaker at the Rotary Club of Cape Coral’s meeting Tuesday morning and immediately laid into the $700 billion bailout bill.

Just days before the bill was signed, Mack said he gathered about 10 of his fellow Republican congressmen and tried to think of alternatives to the controversial bill, including changing capital gains taxes and something he called a “free market approach.”

Mack said Congress passed the bill by using fear to push it through, and now the American people are looking down an uncertain, if not disappointing, path to financial recovery.

“We find ourselves in some interesting and troubling times,” he told the collected Rotarians.

In Mack’s estimation, the bill is merely a quick fix for a system that has been slowly crumbling for many years.

He said “over 200 economists” advised Congress that passing the bill would not stop a recession.

“(They) were looking for immediate satisfaction for the market, when it’s the long term we need to look out for,” he said.

Mack was instructed by Rotary member Paul Sanborn not to “talk politics” because of the congressman’s pending bid for re-election in November, but he did address foreign politics, calling for an outreach program in Latin America to counter the reach of leaders like Venenzuela’s Hugo Chavez.

Another political topic that Mack breached was the prospect of offshore drilling in Florida, which he supports with the caveat that the state gets a share of the profits and has a say in the process.

He also spoke to the some of the accomplishments he has championed throughout Southwest Florida, including the expansion of Interstate 75 and a new $131 million VA clinic in the Cape.

Rotarians questioned the congressman after enjoying their buffet-style breakfast, offering their own takes on the bailout.

Cape resident Bob Miller, who is a Mack supporter, thought the bill brought the nation one step closer to becoming a socialist country.

“Congress doesn’t fix problems, they makes problems,” Miller told Mack. “They need to stop the infighting amongst congressmen and do something good for the American people.”

Mack has taken some hits lately from state Sen. Burt Saunders, R-Naples, who is challenging Mack in November’s general election. Saunders has said Mack rarely, if ever, spends time among his constituents in Southwest Florida.

Mack’s chief of staff, Jeff Cohen, said meetings like the one at the Rotary Club is just business as usual for the congressman.

“He’s been doing meetings like this for five years. It’s clear he’s part of the community,” Cohen said. “It’s an opportunity for a two-way discussion of what’s happening in Washington, the give and take of the political process.”