WATCHUNG, NJ – In what was at times an impatient and hostile town hall meeting, Rep. Leonard Lance, R-Clinton Township, addressed a mixed group of about fifty constituents at the Watchung Municipal Building. Lance fielded questions ranging on topics from our presence in Libya, troop withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan, the status of the new health care law, dubbed ‘Obamacare,’ gas taxes, the status of Medicare and Social Security, oil company subsidies, eliminating ethanol, infrastructure projects and the one question that does not appear to die, the status of President Obama’s birth certificate.
However, what appeared to be the hottest question of the afternoon was what Congress plans to do about the ever-growing national debt, currently standing at $14 trillion. The majority of those questions dealt with fiscal responsibility and the upcoming vote on raising the debt ceiling. Lance seeks to form a panel of experts to determine a method for restraining national spending and dealing with the deficit.
The mixed crowd of Independents, Republicans and even a few members of the Tea Party stated they were disappointed in his performance in Washington. Tim Bal of Montgomery Township stated, “I feel he’s done a lousy job. I will support Ed Potosnak this time around.” Bal stated also that he feels, “The status of Medicare should remain a program for everyone.”
Sim Hitzel of Westfield said he felt Lance was “short of specifics, was just a lot of talk and Lance was not serious on anything. He showed, to me at least, a lack of honesty. He talked about long-term plans for debt reduction but long-term plans won’t work. A lot of people are upset about our out of control spending. As for the health care law, Hitzel favors “repealing it, Congress should act on that.”
The meeting became testy and a little out of control at one point to where members of the Watchung Police Department present and even Mayor Gerald Mobus requested the audience to control themselves and be respectful. What raised the temper in the room were the multiple questions over Obamas’ status as a naturally born citizen. Several audience members argued over the legality of his right to serve as President, which erupted in to a shouting match between constituents.
Some on one side are tired of the rhetoric and those of the other persuasion strongly believe that there is still a constitutional question on the table and demanded an answer from Lance about what he would do about it. William Baer of Harding Township wanted to know, “if you had clear and convincing evidence that Obama is not a citizen, what would you do about it?” Other members wanted an answer from Lance to satisfy their demand for the truth about this issue that the White House rectified back in April. One audience member erupted with the comment that 'his birth certificate is as phony as a $3 bill.' Lance responded with, “I think it should be investigated.” The Congressman left it open for people to ascertain what that comment actually meant, which left many of the ‘birthers’ in the crowd terribly dissatisfied and angry. Don Popa of Annandale, responded that, “Lance was evasive and left me disappointed.”
Rep. Lance faces Ed Potosnak, a Democrat from Scotch Plains, in the 2012 election.