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Entries in Frank Guinta (2)

Friday
Apr292011

Tea Party Lawmaker Frank Guinta Draws Ire Over Medicare Vote

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(EXETER, N.H.) -- Facing a feisty crowd of constituents who shouted, interrupted and shook their heads at him, freshman Rep. Frank Guinta, R-N.H., spent two hours Thursday night calmly defending his vote for a GOP-led plan to overhaul the country's Medicare system.

"Why Congressman Guinta, why in the world, did you ever vote for the Paul Ryan Medicare plan," asked, Gary Patton, who posed the first question at an often raucous town hall meeting the congressman hosted at a local high school here.

Patton, 73, told Guinta that he was concerned that the plan introduced by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., the chairman of the House Budget Committee, would "end Medicare as we know it."

"The proposal that was in the House last week, again, does not affect anyone who is 55 or older," Guinta assured. "I want to try to allay some fears about the proposal, I want to make sure that people have the proper information. If you don't like the plan, let me know that."

Guinta, who rode the Tea Party wave to Washington last year, is one of many new lawmakers who are now facing difficult questions from voters back at home as they wrestle with how to deal with the country's rising debt and whether to make sweeping changes to entitlement programs like Medicare.

The contentious gathering of more than 100 Seacoast residents did not appear to catch Guinta by surprise. He handled the combative crowd gingerly, emphasizing his desire to "find common ground" even with those who disagree with him.

He plowed through more than a dozen questions on issues ranging from ethanol subsidies ("we ought to do away with it, pure and simple," he said) to the national debt. He took an I-feel-your-pain approach to the issue of rising gas prices, telling his constituents that he recently filled up the tank of his Ford Edge.

"I filled up last night and it cost me $71.50," he said. "To have almost $4 a gallon gas, I think affects every single one of us in this room."

At several points Thursday night, however, Guinta could not deliver complete answers without interruptions from the crowd. "I would like to finish my statement," the House freshman said amid a mix of cheers and boos when one member of the audience declared that President Obama "doesn't give a damn about reducing spending."

"I understand that there is a lot of passion and a lot of emotion -- it's why this job is so important right now," Guinta said. "Let's put our energy on things we can agree to rather than divide the country farther."

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Thursday
Dec232010

Retiring Members Dish on the Congress They Leave Behind

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- In an exclusive ABC News interview, four retiring representatives sat down with senior political correspondent Jonathan Karl for a candid look at their time in the U.S. Congress.

Although the panel represented a wide range of political views and years on Capitol Hill, the two Democrats and two Republicans, all defeated in their bids for re-election last November, found common ground.

All were disappointed, for example, by the vitriolic partisanship, which created what one member called "the most dysfunctional Congress'' in his entire life. Rep. Zach Wamp, R-Tenn., who lost his gubernatorial primary bid, had some strong last words about the state of Congress as he sees it.

"Congress is more dysfunctional today than when I got here 16 years ago, and probably more dysfunctional than at any time in the 53 years I've been alive," Wamp told Karl. "We're not passing budgets. We're not moving appropriations bills. We're not blocking and tackling, because the division is so great."

Wamp said his greatest overall disappointment had been watching the erosion of the unity formed in the aftermath of 9/11.

Rep. Chet Edwards, D-Texas, who lost to Republican Bill Flores, echoed Wamp's worry over the increasing divide among Republicans and Democrats.

"I think that there's more partisanship today than I've seen in the 20 years I've been in Congress," Edwards said. "I think the partisanship might get uglier before the American people finally blame one party or the other, and express their views at the ballot box."

Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, D-N.H., who was defeated by Republican Frank Guinta, joked that even her social worker background couldn't prepare her for the challenges and personalities she faced during her time on the Hill.

"I thought, well, I have pretty good people skills," she said. "Well, it's run up against a wall, a wall of people refusing to even sit down and start to talk about an issue."

Another commonality that emerged among the retiring members centered on the influx of Tea Partiers in the 112th Congress. All retiring members expressed reservations about the new Congress members' ability to work together, fearing the surge of conservative, hard-line candidates would will further divide an already deeply partisan legislature.

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