Yoho offers varied views during town hall meeting

Rep. Ted Yoho (R-Fla.) talks with members of the community at a town hall meeting held at JJ Finley Elementary in Gainesville on Monday.

Brad McClenny/Staff photographer
Published: Monday, September 16, 2013 at 9:08 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, September 16, 2013 at 9:08 p.m.

U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Gainesville, has settled into his role on Capitol Hill since he was sworn into office in January. On Monday evening, however, he was back in Gainesville for a town hall meeting at J.J. Finley Elementary School.

When asked during the meeting what he sees as the country’s top issue, Yoho’s quick answer was met with a few hoots of support and a smattering of applause: “Lack of leadership,” he said.

The country needs leaders who can provide a clear, concise vision behind which the public can rally, Yoho said.

Right now, he added, this is a divided nation.

Yoho said he has concerns about House Speaker John Boehner’s leadership and told a Sun reporter, “I just hope people that are willing to be leaders — stand up and be leaders.”

While he was candid about his disapproval of the nation’s present leadership in Washington, Yoho didn’t hold the same contempt for the lobbyists on Capitol Hill.

Responding to an audience question about their influence, he said that lobbyists are actually a good source of information regarding upcoming legislation and they sometimes suggest that he consider bills that turn out to be worth supporting.

During the hour-and-a-half-long forum, the Syrian conflict and the Affordable Care Act were issues Yoho touched upon repeatedly. He told the crowd he came out early on against intervening in Syria. While he called the use of chemical weapons in Syria “horrific,” he said the killing of thousands through conventional weaponry is “atrocious” as well.

This is a time for diplomacy he said, adding that almost all of the people who have contacted him about the Syrian conflict have said America should stay out of it.

“This is a Muslim-to-Muslim conflict,” he said.

Besides, the U.S. has its own problems to tackle, Yoho said. He mentioned the nation’s multi-trillion-dollar debt as a key concern, the blame for which he said doesn’t rest solely on President Barack Obama’s shoulders but on those of the past few presidential administrations.

“Our debt is going to consume this country,” he said.

Yoho told the audience that he does not support raising the debt ceiling, however, since that hasn’t fixed the problem in the past.

Of the Affordable Care Act, the freshman Congressman said it is “legislative malpractice” and “the worst thing I’ve seen happen to this country.”

Yoho’s comments on the act received much applause from the people in the school auditorium, but one man challenged his opposition to it. He told Yoho that the alternatives suggested by Republicans have been watered-down, less effective proposals.

Yoho explained why he disagrees that health care is a right government is meant to provide for its citizens. At one point, he had to suggest that people calm the discussion down after a couple members of the audience shouted out their own views on the issue in what was meant to be a question-and-answer session.

Yoho said he would love for everyone to have health care, but that this country was built upon a tradition of self-reliance among its citizens, and that spirit can’t be lost.

“This country is founded on hard work,” he said. “It’s about equal opportunity, not equal outcome.”

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