Dan Lungren talks cyber security; protesters pack Folsom Town Hall

Politician blasted by critics during forum
By: Don Chaddock, Telegraph Managing Editor
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Rep. Dan Lungren’s visit to Folsom Thursday drew vocal critics and supporters, highlighting a contentious upcoming November election. Lungren, R-Gold River, is seeking re-election to the House of Representatives in November. He’ll squaring-off against Ami Bera, a Democrat from Elk Grove. Lungren started his Thursday morning by speaking to the Rotary Club of Historic Folsom at Lake Natoma Inn, where the mood was very different than that of his evening Town Hall meeting at the Folsom Community Center. That morning, he outlined his concern about a lack of civility in debates, the need for tighter cyber security, the deficit, his opposition to new or higher taxes and reiterated his support of Paul Ryan as Mitt Romney’s choice for a running mate. “I happen to think cyber security is the new domain of warfare,” Lungren told the gathering. “There has never been more theft of intellectual property than there is today.” Lungren said the U.S. has the most to lose in the intellectual property arena. He said China is also trying to “steal secrets (in) scientific achievement. That’s not classified, that’s well known.” Lungren said he’s concerned about the country’s vulnerability to a cyber attack. “Defense is behind offense right now,” he said. “It’s one of the most important things I do back in Washington, D.C. … We have worked closely with the president’s administration in bipartisan support on this. I can’t say that about everything.” On the deficit, he said the country is in trouble. “We’ve got a big problem with the budget,” he said. “Today, we will spend $4.1 billion more than we have. Yesterday, we spent more than $4.1 million more than we had (and so on) … It will amount to more than $1 trillion this year and it amounted to $1 trillion the year before that and the year before that. That’s not sustainable.” Lungren said he supports Ryan’s efforts, but said his plans aren’t entirely there yet. “We need to deal with entitlement programs,” Lungren said. “My friend Paul Ryan suggests we don’t touch Medicare and Social Security for those 55 and over. Why? Because people have relied on those (programs). For those under 54, we need to look at doing something.” He said the economy’s recovery has been disappointing. “We can’t cut our way to prosperity. … We have to do those things that allow the tremendous American spirit (to work),” Lungren said. “We look more like Europe than the U.S. when you look at the rebound.” He said in previous economic downturns, the U.S. recovered quickly, with a deep fall bringing a sharp climb in recovery. “It isn’t happening that way this time,” he said. He also urged people to vote. “If you don’t vote, you can’t blame it on someone else,” Lungren said. “Once we make the choice in November, we need to put our shoulder to the wheel and make this the best (country it can be).” Lungren said he’s looking forward to the November election. “I’m excited about the fact we can make a decision,” he said. “I’m pleased we’ll have a chance to debate this.” He urged civility during the election and afterward. “We’re all in this together,” he said. “We have a right to be heard but there needs to be mutual respect.” Gretchen Tobin, of Folsom, asked Lungren if Congress is as bitter as it appears to be to the general public. “I believe in civility,” he said. “I insist the rules of the House be followed. … Engage in debate in an intelligent way. You have to do it by example. (Speaker of the House) John Boehner has tried to enforce the rules. (If there is an ethics violation and) you have embarrassed the House of Representatives, you’re out of there.” He said a lot of the lack of civility has to do with the change in the atmosphere around the House. “When I was in Congress the first time around (in the 1980s), members brought their families to D.C.,” he said. “Now, I have members who say they don’t bring their families because they are afraid they will be told they are out of step. We used to get to know each other. That is gone. … There is always partisanship but there is civilized combat and uncivilized combat.” Phil Darke, of Folsom, expressed support for the idea. “I’m encouraged to hear all the talk about civility,” he said. Not everyone was happy about Lungren’s visit to Folsom. Organized protesters were out in force on the sidewalk in front of the Folsom Community Center during Lungren’s Town Hall Thursday evening. “Lungren has voted to defund Planned Parenthood and ban all abortions, among his other attacks on women,” said Alexis Duclos, a student from Elk Grove and member of the Women Against Lungren committee. “Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, I’m able to stay on my parents’ health insurance for a little longer, but without it, I’d likely have to turn to Planned Parenthood for important medical screenings. He does not respect me, or represent the interests of his women constituents, and that’s why I’m working to defeat him in November.” The Women Against Lungren group comprises local women who will be leading a neighbor-to-neighbor campaign to help spread their message. “(He) is a flag-bearer for the Republican Party’s War on Women,” said Zohreh Whitaker, a resident of Gold River and a member of the Women Against Lungren Committee. “He recently voted against the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, indicating his belief that women do not deserve the same pay for the same job as their male counterparts. My friends and I are disgusted that this man is our representative in Congress.” The protests are organized by CREDO SuperPAC’s “Take Down Dan Lungren” campaign, which has hired four full-time organizers, opened a field office in Carmichael and is partnering with local constituents in Lungren’s district to mobilize voters, according to a press release issued by the group. One Folsom resident said the Town Hall was very different. “The community center was filled with residents and protesters. There was a lot of anger and frustration directed at Lungren. I listened to people stand up and decry the congressman’s voting record on everything from The War on Women to the Ryan budget, his stance on Federal spending cuts and his … views of the LGBT community. There were several military veterans in attendance who were there to voice their concerns on future funding for defense,” said Suzanne Palmer. “Medicare was a hot topic, with many seniors opposed to Lungren’s vote on ‘ending Medicare as we know it.’ Social Security, Pell Grants and Planned Parenthood were vigorously defended by his constituents. Mr. Lungren only responded to a few of the questions ... before he abruptly cut the meeting off and left the building.”