Whipping up interest

United States Representative Steny Hoyer, D-Md., believes that too few citizens are involved in the politics of this country. Hoyer made a stop at the Phyllis P. Marshall Center on Thursday afternoon to share his views with USF students on the Bush administration and the national debt.

“This is a critical time in the history of your country,” Hoyer said. “It is in your personal interest to be involved – to making your country better than it is now.”

Hoyer is serving his second term as the House Democratic Whip, the second-ranked appointment among House Democrats. He is responsible for mobilizing the Democratic vote on important legislation, acting as a liaison and planning opposition to the majority.

Hoyer is a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee, serving on two subcommittees: the Subcommittee on Transportation, Treasury and Housing, and the Subcommittee on Labor. He served in the Maryland state Senate at age 27, and at age 35 he was the youngest person to serve as the state’s Senate president.

His report, “Pizza, Politics and Power,” discussed the atmosphere in Washington. The event was hosted by the College Democrats and is part of a national series that is organized by the College Democrats of America and national Democratic representatives in Congress. According to the College Democrats at USF, the purpose of these events is to couple those in power with the next generation of leaders and professionals and to hear their input on key issues affecting the country.

Hoyer devoted much of his session to the national budget and the direction of the country. He said the government is racking up debt like a consumer with a credit card without realizing they have to pay for the transaction in the future.Hoyer said the Bush administration, in particular, is swiping the card and saying “So what?” to future reimbursement.

“The ‘So what?’ is that you, young people, are going to pay for it, for ‘our debt’ – $8 trillion,” Hoyer said.

Hoyer’s financial concerns do not end with increases in the national debt. He is also concerned with past and future student loan cuts, which he described as the largest subsidization to student loans in history. Hoyer said that this is a contributing factor to the mounting public and private debt, which goes hand in hand with the national debt.

“You need to be – you should be – angry, energized, involved,” Hoyer said.

Health care, global warming and the importing of things crucial to the country, such as oil, are also issues that Hoyer wants the future of America to be educated about.

It was during these points that he told his audience that Tampa could be underwater, in what he described as a localized Hurricane Katrina, if more people do not start believing in the global warming phenomenon. He also said the United States should not rely on countries such as Saudi Arabia and Venezuela for oil because the countries cannot be trusted. According to Hoyer, this is not due to the nature of the countries, but rather the nature of humans in general, because everyone has specific needs and agendas.

The event was billed as a public student forum to hear student issues and concerns in addition to Hoyer’s report from Washington. Due to time constraints on Hoyer part, there was not much time available for questions, but a few students were able to ask him about things such as government wiretapping and for his recommendations on where to get reliable news coverage.

According to Hoyer, every Democrat in Washington wants to intercept terrorist phone calls made to the United States, but if the United States is to be a free country, then probable cause to access them is necessary. He also said that the United States is entering the situation that its forefathers were afraid of, that of a king or executive authority.

When it comes to news coverage, Hoyer advises the use of multiple sources.

“For example, you can hear me, and then hear people who think I’m full of it,” he said.

Not all were impressed with the brief question-and-answer segment. Junior Evette Mazzo, a biology major and Democrat, felt that he was not objective when answering questions.

“He added a lot of his own spin,” Mazzo said.

The question-and-answer segment aside, Aisha Rivera, a microbiology senior, was impressed with Hoyer’s presentation.

“Overall, it is great that there is discussion taking place, people coming and awareness being raised,” Rivera said. Rivera, as well as Mazzo, came for the pizza, but stayed for the politics.

Senior and political science major Joel Rostetter was happy that Hoyer called him out during the event for wearing a shirt supporting Florida Congressman Jim Davis, who is running for the governorship this year. Rostetter said that he attended the event primarily to get the word out about his candidate, but also came for the pizza and the speaker.

“I liked how he talked about U.S. and private fiscal responsibility, especially to our demographic,” he said. “College kids spend money like it’s going out of style.”