Wednesday, Feb. 6, Noon ET
Maryland 4th District Congressional Race
Wednesday, February 6, 2008; 11:00 AM
U.S. Rep. Albert R. Wynn of Maryland's 4th Congressional District was online Wednesday, Feb. 6 at Noon ET to take your questions about his re-election campaign.
Rep. Wynn is currently in his eighth term serving Southern Maryland.
2008 Maryland Primary Election: Full coverage.
San Francisco: Hello, Congressman, and thanks for chatting today. Are you encouraged by the results for your colleague Rep. Dan Lipinski in Illinois, who thumped his grassroots challenger Mark Pera in yesterday's Democratic primary?
Rep. Albert Wynn: Yes, Lipinkski is good guy and although i dont always agree with him on votes, he has been there for us. I think this indicates that while people are looking for change at the top (president) they are willing to look favorably on the work of their local Congressman
Suitland, Md.: Do you still favor repeal of the Federal Estate Tax? If so, why?
Rep. Albert Wynn: No, for the following reasons:
1) Our priority at this point is fixing the Alternative Minimum Tax; this was not the original intent and to fix it cost rouhgly 60 million dollars.
2) My constituents have expressed significant opposition and I understand their concerns. I believe we should raise the approxiamately 36 billion from the estate tax on the front end (prior to death) and therefore avoid possible job loss. I believe we should tax the wealthy to a greater extent and we should not allow for any loss in revenue. I just believe the money could be raised before death. However, at the present time I have voted against the repeal of the estate tax.
Silver Spring, Md.: Not only did you vote for the Iraq war resolution, you positively supported the Iraq war, posting on your Web site at the time "entrepreneurial opportunities" in Iraq. You have voted in favor of the very richest American families in supporting the abolition of the estate tax. You have sided against working men and women by favoring credit card companies in making it more difficult to use bankruptcy as a tool against harsh economic times like the one we now face.
Given these position, why, as a Democrat and constituent, should I vote for you?
Rep. Albert Wynn: There are several erros in your statement;
First, in 2004, as reported by the Washington Post and the Chicago Tribune, I appreared before the Muslim Council of Montogmery County and indicated that in the absence of weapons of mass destruction, the war was a mistake and my vote was a mistake. On the other hand, Ms. Edwards' foundation invested in the war profiteering company Haliburton, while she denied responsibility for the investment. The issue is that she has not spoken out against this investment or against Haliburton. This year i have voted at least five times to end the war and bring the troops home. Including a vote against supplemental funding for the war
2) please refer to my answer to the previous question regarding the estate tax
3)On bankruptcy, your analysis is incorrect. All persons that make an income under $64,000 are exempt from the bankruptcy bill, as well as, persons with severe economic hardship and medical hardship. Persons with incomes above$64,000 may still file for bankruptcy and restructure their debts under chapter 13. The bankruptcy bill has nothing to do with the current foreclosure crisis and people may still file for bankuptcy in attempt ot save their homes. The fact that neither John Conyers nor the democratic leadership has called for the repeal of the bankruptcy bill (while we have repealed several other Republican bills) is evidence it has neitehr nor worstened nor caused the foreclosure crisis.
Lanham, Md.: I'm concerned about Prince George's Hospital Center. I'm worried that the hospital may close -- and I really haven't heard you speak about this. What are you doing to keep the hospital open?
Rep. Albert Wynn: The Washongton Post, in fact reported on my visit to the hospital. During which I toured the facilities and met with hospital personnel. I have written the Governor and spoken with him on two occasions about the need to convene with all the stakeholders and establish a strategy for keeping the hospital open. I have also worked with members of the county council to urge them to develop a viable funding strategy for the hospital. I met with the union to address the concerns of nurses and other personnel regarding pensions and employment issues should the hopsital be closed. it is my belief that the hospital shoud be saved, but a state/local longterm fiscal startegy is neccessary as a precondition to seeking other resources from the Federal or private sector. The current strategic disagreements, makes it difficult to pursue any additional assistance.
Silver Spring, Md.: The Intercounty Connector will cause a lot of damage to the quality of life in the Anacostia watershed. What are you doing to prevent it from being built?
Rep. Albert Wynn: Local officials (Executive and Council) determined that they wanted the ICC built. Last year, I wrote to Secretary of Transportation, Mineta, saying that environmental concerns had been raised and that we needed to expedite the environmental impact study to get a definitive resolution of these issues. The IS was performed and the court on two occasions considered the concerns and allowed the projects to proceed. As a Federal official, I take my lead on transportation projects from local requests and by law I am not allowed to interfere with court proceedings on such matters.
Silver Spring, Md.: Congressman Wynn. I was wondering how you have lost weight. You look great and physically refreshed for your next term. Do you believe that any person given the facts that you were about the Iraq war at that time would have voted the same way as you did on the war resolution? I personally don't see how anyone can take issue with your vote based upon the information given. Good luck next Tuesday.
Rep. Albert Wynn: Thank you very much for your thoughts regarding the war. As I indicated above, I have tried to look at this issue honestly and realistically. With respect to my weight, I have been swimming. I recommend it enthusiastically, but I know I still have a long way to go.
Capitol Heights, Md.: What will you do about the corruption that exists within the PG County government? Our county executive and council appear to be untouchable. We were promised investigations into their wrongdoings (misuse and abuse of county funds) by SA Ivey, but have yet to see the results. Further, what would you do about the home-grown terrorism (gangs, murders, violent crimes) occurring right along the D.C./Maryland border? It seems we have more people here at home terrorizing, than we have overseas, yet nothing is done about it. Seriously, my neighborhood sounds like Fallujah some nights! Thanks for your time.
Rep. Albert Wynn: With respect to the County Government, the States Attorney or the Attorney General would be the proper unit of government to investigate and prosecute any claims of corruption or abuse. Corruption is not a term that should be considered lightly and requires a full and fair investigation prior to indictment and prosecution.
I have brought 3.1 million dollars back to the District for bi-county anti-gang initiatives. This includes both intervention (counseling, recreation, etc..) and prosecution. In addition, I believe we need more funding for non-profit groups that intervene with young people and each year I have successfuly brought funds back to the District for this purpose (i.e. $400,000 for the Patrots technology Center for Youth).
Third, I have suggested to Dr. Deasy, Superintendent of Schools, that schools should remain open after hours to enable non-profit groups and volunteers to offer a variety of programs for youth in addition to sports. I have also supprted the cops program to add 50,000 police officer nationally in order to promote neighborhood policing for youth violence
Bethesda, Md.: What do you think of the way the campaign against you is being financed?
Rep. Albert Wynn: I think it is very unfortunate that groups outside the District are spending almost 2 million to gain control of this seat. I am particularly concerned that most of the media/mail advertisement is negative its negative, nasty, and mean spirited, content is filled with distortions and lies. For exmaple they claim that I gave myself five pay raises when in fact i voted five times for Federal employee cost of living allowances. My so called vacations paid for by lobbyists were in reality, overnighta nd two day trips to attend conferences where i gave keynote speeches or participated in panel discussions. These campaign tactics represent the worst asepcts of the political process and in no way advocate the qualifications/resume of my opponent.
Boyds, Md.: Do you think the taxpayers should bail out people who buy homes costing more than $400,00, with no money down, who then find they cannot afford the monthly payments and who are facing foreclosure?
Rep. Albert Wynn: My concern is not for people who over-extend themselves, but rather for the victims of predatory lenders. The foreclsoure crisis has revealed that a significant number of borrowers were steered to predatory sub-prime loans. These victims "do deserve our asistance". It should also be remembered that a foreclosure can bring down the property value of surrounding homewoners, resulting in a loss of equity for other innocent homeowners. Thus, a bail out not only helps the victims, but also the economic interest of the larger community.
washingtonpost.com: Thank you for taking questions today, Rep. Wynn.
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