Congressman chats with constituents


GONZALES — Voters missed out on a chance of submitting their voice to the political process Wednesday afternoon.

Tea Party patriots could have thanked their man in Washington for keeping the heat on the president and liberal leaning progressives could have chided him for being off base with the rest of America. But neither was the case as just four people showed up to listen to Rep. Blake Farenthold, not counting the two other politicians in attendance.

Regardless, Farenthold sat and visited with those in attendance on various matters near to the congressman’s heart.

Running a little late because of a longer than expected meeting in Yoakum, Farenthold launched right into his thoughts and offered those in attendance to come along.

He started by saying what was bothering him at the moment, the wanton shooting of police officers that he said is becoming an epidemic. Echoing what Sen. Ted Cruz said in front of a Houston business crowd Tuesday, that police are “under assault right now at an unprecedented level,” he followed Cruz by laying blame at the feet of President Obama.

“We’ve got a president that won’t go on television condemning shooting cops,” Farenthold said.

Immigration is still a topic in which still chides him, and that was next on his list. Farenthold continues to express exasperation that it is impossible to secure the border if the current laws aren’t being followed. He said that illegal immigrants are taking advantage of this country’s generous safety net.

“Basically we have created a sanctuary country,” he said.

That resonated with an older man in attendance who complained that veterans aren’t getting the care they need because, as he sees it, certain women are having more babies in order to gain heaftier welfare checks.

Farenthold’s best line of the day was when he asked if anyone thought that the Iran nuke deal was a good idea. The question was met with derisive laughter and launched the congressman into another hot-button topic.

“The whole thing as it was set up is disgusting,” Farenthold said. In his view, Iran would be able to game the system by earning enough money to build a bomb after the international sanctions are relaxed, which in turn would be the doomsday scenario that neo-cons fear the most.

It is the same deal, he said, that convinced him to vote against the popular Trans-Pacific Partnership Free Trade Agreement that President Obama had proposed. It is because of this, Farenthold said, that he wouldn’t trust the president with purchasing a Whataburger.

On abortion-related topics, Farenthold was much against Planned Parenthood and questioned the reasoning in continuing to fund the organization. He said that community clinics could very well handle the influx of women should Planned Parenthood be shuttered, which would deny women non-abortion related care such as cancer checkups and well-women exams that many rely upon.

“I thought we had Obamacare so that everyone could go to the doctor for their health,” he said.

Straying from the norm, a teacher from Gonzales High School addressed the congressman with a list of questions cultivated from her students. Several of them had asked how they would be able to pay for college with such sky-high interest rates on student loans.

Farenthold said that he believes that every kid that wants to go to college should be able to. Community colleges are a bright spot on education, he said, where students can get valuable, high-paying skill sets for a fraction of what public universities cost. He used a comparison of his own daughter who just graduated with a Master’s Degree, making $55,000 in her first job while some community college grads earn upwards of $60,000 right out of school with zero debt.

The congressman thought that the one-size-fits-all model of college education has failed students. While Democrats have proposed a system of free college education—which he is not in favor of— he proposes some type of loan forgiveness program or even something comparable to what the government gets on its interest rates—1-2 percent.

Another student had wondered how to get involved in politics. Farenthold replied that it is easy to do, for candidates are always looking for volunteers and interns. He also encourages students to focus on their technical writing skills, for increasingly he is finding it difficult to come across people that know how to string words together properly.

He did have kinds words for the educator and expressed interest in coming to her classroom as part of his “Congress in the Classroom” program.

“Thank you for choosing a career in teaching,” he said. “It is a thankless job.”

After a few more sound bites on Benghazi, Hillary Clinton emails and cyber crime, the representative bid those assembled farewell until next time, but acknowledged the lack of attendance.

“This is a small turnout. I hope it’s because no one is ticked off with me,” he said.