By Dan McDermott
Warren County Report
In an interview with Warren County Report’s Roger Bianchini, Rep. Frank R. Wolf said he was visiting Front Royal to meet with EPA officials at the former Avtex Superfund site to work toward releasing the property to be used by the town. Avtex was a rayon fiber manufacturing plant that produced materials for World War II and the US space shuttle and missile programs before being closed for it’s massive pollution of the Shenandoah River.
James Madison University has expressed an interest in opening a satellite campus on the property, a use currently prohibited by federal rules. The local EDA is also interested in leasing 40 acres at the site to be used to build a solar power plant and solar panel manufacturing facility.
Wolf said it’s time to “put fresh eyes” on the project and favors more local decision-making on the site’s use in the future. “The people of Front Royal, the people of Warren County ought to be the decision-makers. They were the one’s impacted [by the pollution.] They were the ones who had the job loss [when the plant was shut down.] They were the ones who lived through the cleanup,” he said.
Wolf said he doesn’t think the federal government should be telling the people of Front Royal and Warren County what they ought to be doing with the property once the cleanup has taken place.
The Health Care Reform Act
Wolf said he was disappointed that the recently enacted health care bill was handled in what he called a “partisan way.” He said he favored certain elements of the bill like banning companies from denying coverage for pre-existing conditions and likes the idea of allowing parents to keep dependent children on their insurance until the age of 26.
“We’re dealing with one-sixth of the economy and you have to deal with it in a bipartisan way,” Wolf said.
Wolf pointed to his authorship of the bill that created the bipartisan Iraq Study Commission, led by former Republican Secretary of State James Baker and former Democratic Rep. Lee Hamilton, that offered recommendations toward reaching a consensus on how to proceed with the implementation of the Iraq war.
“That consensus worked. Look at the elections we are having in Iraq today. The same thing should have been done with the health care bill. I think the partisan nature and the divisiveness and the fact that there was no bipartisan effort and no effort to reach out to Republicans was really a mistake,” he said.
Wolf said he voted against the bill because the costs, which he estimated at $2.5 trillion dollars, were “overwhelming.”
“We have $37 trillion dollars of unfunded obligations. We have 12 trillion dollars of debt. The nation’s broke,” he said.
Wolf pointed to a recent Moody’s report that said the United States could lose its AAA bond rating. Such an event would cause the US government to have to pay higher interest rates on money it borrows.
China as our ‘banker’
In addition to expressing concerns about how much money the US government owes, Wolf expressed strong feelings about where the United States goes to borrow money.
“We owe $12 trillion dollars of debt. We owe money to China. China that is spying against us is our banker. China that has Catholic bishops in jail is our banker. China that has protestant pastors in jail is our banker. China that has plundered Tibet–they’ve turned Lhasa [the capital of the Tibet Autonomous Region] into a dirty city–they are our banker. And so the nation is fundamentally broke,” he said.
As ranking member of the Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies, Wolf said he has worked closely with FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III and feels that China is the “number one spier” on the United States.
“Almost every day there is a cyber attack against an American corporation to steal technology [or] against a United States government agency. China is the number one user of cyber attacks against the country and they’re our banker,” he said.
Wall Street bailout
Wolf was asked why he opposed the health care plan while supporting a federal bailout of major Wall Street firms.
“The bailout, as undesirable as it was, and it was done in a bipartisan way…there were some that felt we were going to have an economic collapse. We were going to have another economic depression. People were going to lose their home. People were going to lose their jobs. There was a prediction of 25% unemployment, banks failing, people showing up at their local bank and there’s no money, you with your retirement wiped out, you with your house taken away,” he said.
Threats against members
Speaking only an hour before the release of a statement from his Virginia colleague Rep. Eric Cantor that a person had been arrested for threatening Cantor, Wolf decried the current ‘partisan atmosphere’ that has led to members of both the House and Senate receiving threats.
Wolf pointed to his efforts over the past few months to force the Justice Department to prosecute members of the Black Panthers. “[They were] standing outside voting booths intimidating people, hollering racist things. They have threatened to come down to Washington to get me. Well I didn’t make a big deal out of it. If they come to Washington, you know, they’ll get arrested,” Wolf said.
“There is no place in our political system for violence. I think the political process is rough and tumble but you ought to challenge ideas and not challenge people,” he said.
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Dan McDermott: firstname.lastname@example.org
Roger Bianchini: email@example.com