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Tsongas Tells Patch Readers Highest Priority is Jobs and the Economy

Patch readers from Andover to Marlborough got a chance to ask Congresswoman Niki Tsongas (D-Lowell) some questions on Friday morning, here’s some of the highlights.

In case you couldn’t join us for our live chat with Congresswoman Niki Tsongas on Friday morning here on Concord Patch,

Tewksbury Resident:

Are you concerned that the U.S. uniforms for the London Olympics are all made in China?

Niki Tsongas:

This is also a problem with athletic footwear for the U.S. military. New Balance, which is located in Lawrence in the Fifth District and is the only remaining athletic shoe manufacturer making shoes here from first stitch to final product.

And yet, the U.S. military allows service members to buy footwear made across the globe. I felt it was important that like all other aspects of military uniforms, that footwear also come from the U.S.  I made this case as a member of the Armed Services Committee.

Westford Resident:

Why can't Congress get together on addressing the ticking time bomb known as the National Debt?

Niki Tsongas:

Thank you for the question. No one was more passionate about the dangers of an exploding national debt than my late husband, Senator Paul Tsongas.

I recognize the seriousness of our budget crisis which is why I have voted for a number of measures to sharply reduce federal spending. It is also why I have never taken a pay raise, have cosponsored legislation to cut congressional pay, and have consistently returned money from my office budget to the Treasury.

But I also recognize that spending cuts alone will not put our budget on a sustainable path. For instance, loopholes and carve-outs in the tax code cost $1.1 trillion every year.

When some of our nation's most fortunate fail to pay their fair share but continue to benefit from the services provided by the federal government—such as national defense, food and drug safety, public infrastructure, or air traffic safety, among many others—everyone else must shoulder more of the burden.

That is why I support returning to the Clinton-era tax rates for the top wealthiest 2 percent of earners and eliminating tax subsidies for oil and gas companies earning record profits.

Goose:

Thank you for keeping interest rates from rising for college loans. What more we can do to keep college affordable?

Niki Tsongas:

Thank you for that question. I know the burden the high cost of college places on American families and I am glad we were able to prevent student loan rates from doubling at the end of June. Students shouldn't have to pay a higher interest rate than banks are currently paying!

Last year as part of Wall Street reform, we took steps to prevent predatory lending and bring down the high cost of student loans, and we need to keep investing in our students to make college affordable. It is the key to the future of our country.

Bill Montague, Concord:

Is there anything you can do to lessen the amount of "Pack Money" that has a very large control of our people we elect to serve us - the money is a very strong advocate for control of our elected officials as we all know by now?

Niki Tsongas:

Thanks Bill Montague. I am very proud of the fact that over 90 percent of the contributions to my campaign come from Massachusetts residents and I agree with you that we need to eliminate the influence of special interests on campaigns. (On Thursday) I signed a petition on the House Floor to bring a bill called the DISCLOSE Act up for a vote.

It would require that all contributions to Super PACs be identified by their source shining a bright light on political contributions.

 I thought the Citizens United decision by the Supreme Court was utterly misguided and made it easier for a small number of people to control the dynamics of the election process.

Main St. Andover:

I'd like to hear more about the Congresswoman's legislative priorities for the fall.

Niki Tsongas:

Thanks Main St. Andover.  My highest priority is creating jobs and growing our economy.

That’s why I’ve been so focused on advancing legislation to support small businesses and small growth companies.

I also believe we need to invest in education, create policies that advance domestic manufacturing, and take advantage of all of the clean energy opportunities. I am also focused on my work on the Armed Services Committee to protect service members whether through continuing to focus on lightening their load with better body armor, or my bipartisan work with Republican Congressman Mike Turner on the Military Sexual Assault Prevention Caucus.

We also have to work to resolve the impasse on addressing our national debt and deficit in a way that is fair, balanced and protects Medicare and Social Security.

Weaver Recap and Golnik on Tap

Also, don’t forget to check out the recap from our Congressional , and stay tuned for our next Congressional live chat on Thursday, July 19 at noon with Jon Golnik (R-Carlisle).

We’ve passed along questions that couldn’t be answered during the hour and will publish the answers as soon as possible. If you have any questions for any of the candidates, please e-mail us at lizt@patch.com and we’ll get you the answers as soon as we hear back!

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