It’s been over two months since U.S. Rep. Bob Turner became the first Republican Congressman from New York’s 9th District in nearly a century. With a little bit of Washington time under his belt, Turner took some time to answer some questions with Forest Hills Patch about those first few days in the nation’s capital, and what the future holds.
Turner’s tenure in Congress has matched up fairly closely with the birth of the Occupy Wall Street movement, though the similarities end there. The Congressman said he initially sympathized with some elements of the movement — namely the frustration people were feeling with their leaders — but that at some point, things took a turn.
“There’s a lot of discontent in the entire society. Initially the Wall Street protesters each had their own story, but it kind of morphed into a rather hard-left socialist agenda, and I think it’s put off a number of their demonstrators,” Turner said. “There’s something to be said for the right to protest, but they were at a point where they were interfering severely with the people that live and work there.”
Turner’s own experience with Occupy Wall Street has been limited on a first-hand basis. — the congressman said he didn’t really fully grasp what had happened until hours later.
As for the feeling in Washington, Turner said he’s had his share of ups and downs in the first couple of months. One of the most pessimistic moments, he said, was watching the House of Representatives fail yet again to pass a balanced budget amendment, a favorite Republican deficit-reduction ploy.
“This is a bill that was flexible and watered-down and was designed to be bipartisan,” Turner said. “This should not have been voted down. … I was a little angry to hear applause on the Democratic side [when the bill failed.]”
As for his plans for the district and into the future, Turner said he only now is starting to feel like he’s got his feet firmly planted in Washington’s soggy soil.
“I’ve made a little noise here and there, but I’m still in a learning capacity. I think you might hear a little more from me next year,” he said.
His most pressing issue, he said, is to help address the nation’s joblessness problems, with the unemployment rate hovering around nine percent.
“I hope to join in a practical for job growth, business deregulation, and a plan for how we’re going to tackle the deficit in a responsible way,” Turner said. “But there sure is enough to do for right now.”