Sunday, July 16, 2000

Voters give Portman an earful of concerns

Social Security, Medicare, taxes worry seniors

By Reid Forgrave
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Rep. Rob Portman held two town meetings Saturday in Cincinnati where he listened to residents voice concerns ranging from Medicare prescription drug coverage to Social Security to immigration.

(Luis Sanchez photo)
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        The Terrace Park Republican, up for re-election in November, met with two groups of primarily senior citizens in Evendale and Hyde Park.

        He explained to a crowd of about 30 at the Oakley Community and Senior Center that when Medicare began in 1965, prescription drug coverage was not a big deal. Now, he said, with the number of senior citizens steadily increasing and the need for prescription drugs in creasing as well, coverage is more important.

        Attendees completed surveys on the issues most important to them. The tax code, IRS reform and reducing government spending ranked highest.

        When Mr. Portman opened the floor to questions, he got an earful.

        “We've got some wonderful people in this world, and some wonderful countries,” said Bruce Conway, 60, of Oakley. “The problem is that people want to leave their countries and come here.”

        Mr. Portman said immigration is one of the aspects that has made the United States as great as it is.

        People also voiced concern about the high gas prices. One Mt. Lookout woman said older houses heated by natural gas in Mt. Lookout and other parts of Greater Cincinnati will have to pay much more for heating come wintertime.

        Another woman, Thelma Gratsch, 78 and also of Mt. Lookout, spoke about the automotive companies' lack of concern for studying alternative fuels.


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